In today’s bottom-line oriented evironment, every company is concerned with O&M costs. Staff functions that support revenue producing activities are sometimes referred to as “cost centers”. Running a “cost center” without providing more is a one-way ticket to marginalization.
This is the subject of a recent article by George Tillmann in Strategy + Business, In Search of Overhead Heroes. He captures the situation thusly:
The overhead business concerns coping with bureaucracy and being responsible for a necessary expense thatâ€™s rarely viewed as a source of competitive advantage. Whether its function is accounting, human resources, information technology, or marketing, running a unit thatâ€™s considered overhead is among the most frustrating corporate jobs there is.
Mr. Tillmann goes on to offer his view of managing “overhead”, through his experience as the CIO of Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He goes beyond the canard of “running your group like a business” and offers a view of “market driven management”, which seeks to act on the following questions:
What is our purpose?
Who are our customers?
What do different customers want and need to be more effective in their jobs?
What services and products should we, and can we, provide?
Are we satisfying our customers?
The answers to the last question involve measuring quantifiable factors, a key point in demonstrating value to the enterprise.
While the article is written from the IT perspective, its analysis is directly relevant to the management of a corporate legal department.
Take “IT”, and replace with “Legal”.