Fast-growing national practice DWF has become the first law firm to join the British Quality Foundation (BQF), a not-for-profit organisation set up by government and industry.
Among the members of the BQF, which describes itself as Europe’s largest corporate membership organisation dedicated to performance improvement, are Marks & Spencer, Virgin Media and O2.
Tracey Johnson, DWF’s head of business excellence, said the firm joined the BQF both to improve performance and “rub shoulders” with large companies, including some clients.
She said the firm had undergone a “huge amount of change” in the last five years, growing from a north-west practice with half a dozen offices to an international firm with 16 offices and over 2,300 staff.
“When you’re merging with other organisations, you’re bringing on board not only the people, but different systems and ways of working,” Ms Johnson said. “It’s important for us to maintain a consistently high level of service, whether it’s in Birmingham or Dubai.”
Ms Johnson said that, given the pace of change, the firm needed tools to improve consistency and performance, such as the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) excellence model used by BQF.
“It’s a really useful took that helps organisations improve and build strong foundations.”
She said the model was centred on five ‘enablers’ – leadership, strategy, people, resources and products – and comparing them with ‘results’ in terms of people, customers, society and business.
Ms Johnson said this model sat above other the quality awards that DWF had obtained, such as ISO 9001 and the Commitment Marque of Excellence, a North of England quality award. Membership of the BQF also provided a networking opportunity.
“Being part of an external organisation like the BQF enables us to rub shoulders with other sectors. Our clients are from a wide range of industries and we need to service them in the way that they want.
“We want to make sure we’re learning from them, as well as delivering to them. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.”
Ms Johnson added that very few law firms had a head of business excellence or an internal audit function to improve performance. “It’s not just a differentiator for us. It makes sure we provide the best level of service to our clients.”
Russell Longmuir, chief executive and director general of BQF, commented: “Now, more than ever, we are seeing UK businesses assess and evaluate the efficiency and sustainability of their business models…
“For industry, there is an opportunity – and a need – to ensure that performance is optimised, long-term shareholder value is protected and opportunities for people are safeguarded. We are better equipped to face these challenges in a collaborative, coordinated fashion, and the cross-sector discussion that we are building will enable us to address them head on collectively.”