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LSP Focuses on Minimal Disruption to Lawyer Account Payments

Posted on: Tuesday, June 3 /08

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Contingency Planning - Relocation
For a chart detailing the LSP Contingency Planning for relocation please follow this link.

You can also download a PDF version of the chart via this link
Last updated: March 7/08


Many LAO staff tend to focus on de-cluttering file drawers or what to pack when they think of the upcoming move to the Atrium on Bay.

But what about the day-to-day activities departments handle, and the clients and service providers they assist? How do you address the disruption created by the office relocation if things don't go as smoothly as anticipated?

These are the types of questions managers and supervisors in Lawyer Services and Payments department (LSP) asked themselves when creating their Contingency Plan.

The paramount objective was ensuring minimal disruption to lawyer account payments by making the relocation as seamless as possible.

Discussions, brainstorming and identification of possible risks and challenges focused on LSP's three primary department groups; Lawyer Payments, the Lawyer Service Centre and Post-Payment Examination.

Realizing that there may be one or two days of slowdown during the move, Lawyer Payments decided to ramp-up and reduce their accounts inventory prior to the move, giving themselves a deadline of July 1.

Mobilizing adjusters to increase productivity by prioritizing lawyer payment functions and getting authorization for overtime, they succeeded well ahead of their deadline. Their goal was to drive their account inventory from over five thousand down to the four thousand range in case their ability to process accounts was temporarily compromised. Although it is only the end of May, Lawyer Payments has achieved its goal.

In addition to reducing their accounts inventory, the Lawyer Payments group has been experimenting with adjusters and disbursement coordinators working from home. In case of a bumpy transition, this would mean that staff could work from home and ensure that productivity is maintained and lawyers get paid. Vacation scheduling has been planned well in advance to minimize service disruption. As well, LSP has asked the Relocation Project Team to make their department move a high priority to minimize the consequences of disruption.

LSP's most recent Better Billing Bulletin reminded lawyers to attach account details online. It's much easier to find an e-account than to track down a paper account. This will be even more true during the days surrounding the move and the creation of LAO's paperless Records Department, when paper accounts are moved off-site for scanning.

Personnel at the Lawyer Service Centre (LSC) spend their workdays on the telephone providing billing support to lawyers and their staff. Disruption of phone access will compromise LSC's ability to serve them. LSC is working with IT, exploring whether Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) could be made available to enable staff to work from home and answer calls during the move. At the very least, a temporary voicemail system will be set up during the move and messages addressed by staff in a timely way.

In Post-Payment Examinations, much of the same approach towards contingency planning has been used - prioritizing LSP's move with the Relocation Project Team, the careful planning of summer vacations to ensure appropriate coverage, experimenting with working from home, and increasing productivity before and after the move.

A unique opportunity for LSP tied in very well with their contingency plan and efforts at a seamless transition. Facilities invited the department to showcase the cubicles to be deployed at our new location, the Atrium on Bay. Six working cubicles were set-up for LSP staff. Some of the "move anxiety" has been reduced (most staff like the new cubicles) and staff are better prepared to hit the ground running in the new environment.

LSP has found that creating a contingency plan has been an incredibly helpful process. Planning for the future and reducing service risk is helping LSP better manage the challenges of the move. Staff feel more in control of their workload and confident that they can continue to deliver excellent service to the lawyers who represent low-income Ontarians. No matter how challenging the move may be, LSP hopes those it serves will not notice.


Lawyer Services & Payments
Contingency Planning - Relocation

Last updated: March 7, 2008

Department Group Challenge Possible Solutions Timing Corporate Support - Dependencies
A. Lawyer Payments

1. Reduce accounts inventory to 4,000 range prior to move

  • Mobilize adjusters to increase productivity
  • Prioritize lawyer payment functions
  • Consider Overtime

July 1, 2008

VP Corporate

 

2. Maintain adjuster and disbursement co-ordinator productivity during move

  • Experiment with adjusters, coordinators working from home
  • Obtain permission from VP Corporate to allow files off site

April 7-11, 2008
May 5-9, 2008
June 9-13, 2008

IT, VP Corporate

 

3. Reduce down time due to relocation

  • Consult with Facilities and LAO move co-ordinator re. priority needs of department and consequences of service disruption

March 3-7, 2008

Facilities, VP Corporate

 

4. Determine vacation schedules to ensure limited service disruptions based on absences

  • Plan summer vacations in advance

April 7, 2008

Management

 

5. Determine how to address reduced access to previous detailed accounts due to Records Scanning Project

  • Request lawyers always attach accounts
  • Eliminate requirement to examine some previous accounts
  • Advise Bar of move and indicate need to request copy of previous accounts where no prior account details electronically held by LAO
  • Develop standard request form for account details and allow e-mailing

April 7, 2008

Management


B. Lawyer Service Centre

1. Continue to answer calls during the transition to new location

  • Consult with IT to determine if Call Centre can maintain flow during transition (set up phones in advance)

- April, 2008

- IT

 

 

  • Investigate work from home. The new VOIP tel. system will allow us to manage calls with the queue remotely

June, 2008

IT, LSP Director

 

 

  • Alternate measure (depending on how long phones are not available): let calls go into voice mail and address later

June, 2008

IT

 

2. Continue to manage vendor records/banking/new solicitor requests

  • Make sure all vendor record updates, tier level letters and new solicitors are set up and dealt with as much as possible before down time

Just before move date

LSC Representatives

 

3. Confirm vacation schedules to minimize disruption to Call Centre

  • Schedule vacations for staff in advance

April 1, 2008

Management


C. Post-Payment Examination *

1. Reduce down time due to cubicle construction

  • Consult Facilities and LAO move co-ordinator re. priority needs of department and consequences of service disruption

March 3-7, 2008

Facilities, VP Corporate

 

2. Determine vacation schedules to ensure limited service disruptions based on absences

  • Plan summer vacations in advance

April 7, 2008

Management

 

3. Maintain productivity during move

  • Experiment with working from home
  • Obtain permission from VP Corporate to allow files off site

April 7-11, 2008
May 5-9, 2008
June 9-13, 2008

IT, VP Corporate

 

4. Increase Productivity before and after the move

  • Utilize summer student's assistance to prep files
  • Work overtime (time in lieu) to achieve the time lost during the move

Early June (pre-move) to mid-July (post-move)

Management

* This unit will experience little impact on the operations shutdown of 2-3 days. It is easy to assume additional caseload prior to or after the move. As the number of accounts to be examined are known at the beginning of the month, it is less complicated to adjust the workload and spread it out over the entire month.