Global Legal recently spoke to Tony Wright, Cameron McKenna’s Director of Operations, about its decision to outsource its middle office services to Integreon. In the second of this two-part post, Tony talks about the risks and benefits of the deal, the decision to choose Integreon over larger BPO vendors, and the budding interest of other large law firms in this type of arrangement.
If you missed part 1, you can find it at CMS Cameron McKenna’s Tony Wright Outlines Middle Office Outsourcing Efforts (Part 1).
GLOBAL LEGAL: What do you see as the biggest benefits for the firm coming from this deal?
TONY WRIGHT: The biggest benefits relate to the service improvement from which we anticipate our clients will benefit (internal partners and fee-earners as well as external corporate clients). We anticipate this arrangement with Integreon will enable our business services functions to co-create a shared service operation that will be built on an innovative IT platform, featuring best-of-breed financial, CRM and HR solutions for the legal sector, supporting best-in-class support processes. Not only will the shared service solution fast-track the delivery (and ongoing upgrade) of best-in-class IT systems for the firm’s staff and clients, it will open up best-in-class project management, knowledge management and other added value capabilities to our clients.
GLOBAL LEGAL: What are the biggest risks?
TONY WRIGHT: The biggest risks include the scale of change, the initial period of uncertainty for staff affected as well as the potential for services to suffer. We have been managing actively a full risk register since our Board agreed to move forward with the initiative. We have a stream of work dedicated to mitigating any and all risks as part of the transformation programme.
GLOBAL LEGAL: The press release states that you will be working for Integreon for a three month due diligence period. What are the goals for this period? (Developing an outsourcing governance structure? A communication plan?) What metrics will be used to evaluate service levels – now, over time? Will you eventually return to Cameron to manage the Integreon relationship?
TONY WRIGHT: The focus of my secondment for the next few months is to assist with the design of the ultimate shared service solution. While we anticipate this being a full service solution, there are elements of the business services operation that might be retained by CMcK (any roles that emerge as uniquely strategic to CMS Cameron McKenna). My role on secondment is to help both CMcK and Integreon design the right model and phasing of the transfer of operations to realise the project’s objectives, as set out above.
Service level metrics will, absolutely, be a feature of that design, together with the governance structure. A communication plan has been in place since we announced the arrangement on 14 May, and that is being effected throughout the summer. The communications stream is one of 15 streams of work within this transformation programme.
I anticipate transferring across to Integreon given the anticipation that the majority of the firm’s business services operations will transfer.
GLOBAL LEGAL: What are the plans for the 200 or so employees involved in these processes today – will some of them be re-badged by Integreon? Will they also support other firms/companies or is the staff dedicated to CMS Cameron McKenna?
TONY WRIGHT: Again, that is very much the nature of the next three months’ activity: to identify which processes and roles will be retained by CMcK; which roles will be ‘dedicated’ to CMcK and which roles will be shared in nature.
GLOBAL LEGAL: The press release states that the firm decided to focus on outsourcing non-legal processes. The agreement covers accounting, HR, research, etc. Does it also include e-Discovery, contract reviews, or other legal processes? What are CMS Cameron McKenna’s plans for legal outsourcing?
TONY WRIGHT: The focus of this initiative has been the firm’s Business Services operations – not legal outsourcing.
GLOBAL LEGAL: Did you receive resistance to outsourcing from the firm’s leadership?
TONY WRIGHT: I can honestly say I’ve had fair engagement and support from partners across the firm. We will continue to engage and consult with partners and staff about the transformation during the next three months.
GLOBAL LEGAL: Do you think this deal is in the forefront of a new trend? Will we see more large law firms outsourcing middle office or legal processes?
TONY WRIGHT: The experience of the past 18 months has demonstrated to me that CMcK is by no means the only major firm to be considering this type of arrangement. Our announcement demonstrates that we are innovators in the legal sector, but I know other peers of mine are having conversations with potential service providers. Ours is a sector for which commentators have been predicting significant change for many years. Clients are demanding their law firms innovate their business models, and we have responded early to these calls. We have already had calls from other large law firms asking to keep them apprised of the service model we establish.
GLOBAL LEGAL: Why did you choose Integreon instead of a company like Infosys or Accenture that has much more experience?
TONY WRIGHT: Initial conversations with many of the big BPO players demonstrated that, while their experience is considerable in support service processes, their experience with professional service firm processes is limited, and with law firm processes even less so. It was important for CMcK to enter into a partnership rather than any simple outsourcing arrangement. Integreon has a track record in servicing law firm clients and has demonstrated a propensity to partner with us in the design of the best solution for our firm which, we believe, will set the future standard for business service provision in the legal sector.
GLOBAL LEGAL: There is a lot of discussion in the outsourcing industry about outsourcing for labor arbitrage versus outsourcing to get best practices and vendor (process & technology) efficiencies. Can you tell us whether you considered this, and, if so, your plans for efficiency improvements?
TONY WRIGHT: Our strategic partnership with Integreon has been formed on the overriding premise of establishing best practice and enhancing the service quality to our internal partners, fee-earners and the firm’s external clients. Clearly, the business model of law firms locating the full suite of their support operations in major City real estate is outdated. We are building a model in which processes will be sourced from multiple locations, which offers both cost-efficiency but, critically, the most effective model for enhanced client service.