Gaining access to world renowned knowledge, technology and skills

Gaining access to world renowned knowledge, technology and skills

Glyn Morris is Finance Director of Higgs & Sons and discusses the opportunity he was given to work with Aston University through a KTP.

Due to unprecedented changes in the legal services sector triggered by recent deregulation, firms such as Higgs & Sons are facing increased competition. We are one of the largest law firms in the West Midlands and positioned well within the top 200 firms nationally, but we are always looking for opportunities to better understand client needs and expectations.

We quickly realised that to develop a sustainable competitive advantage and offer enhanced value-adding services to clients, we needed to continue to develop our business processes, resourcing models and client communication.

An opportunity came along to work with Aston University through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), which really appealed to us because it provided both resource and the expertise we needed to be able to adapt and evolve quickly. Dr Ben Clegg, Reader in Operations Management at Aston Business School, had tried and tested his operational tools in other industries, but was keen to work with us and apply them to the legal services sector.

"An opportunity came along to work with Aston University through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), which really appealed to us because it provided both resource and the expertise we needed to be able to adapt and evolve quickly."

The project was based on a technique called Process Oriented Holonic (PrOH) modelling, which aims to redesign the services process by bringing people onto a common platform and encouraging them to be creative. We looked into five different internal services where we believed we could remove any ‘wasteful activity’ out of their processes and generate more value. KTP Associate Krishna Balthu came to work within Higgs for two years, transferring this knowledge within the company.

The outcomes have been bigger than we ever would have imagined. In 2012, our firm wide revenues grew by 13% and again by 10% in 2013 and there has been positive impact on profitability too. Our new methodologies have led to innovative ways of working to service clients better, along with better internal communications. One of our lawyers described the tools as the most helpful things he’s ever seen created in-house. We’ve also just found out that the Technology Strategy Board have rated our project as outstanding, which is a great achievement for not only us, but the academics from Aston too.

Not only this, but we are now recognised as innovators by the wider industry, setting the precedent for how to carry out much needed transformation within law firms. One of our proudest achievements was being shortlisted for the prestigious The Lawyer Management Awards for the KTP project, reaching the final in the category of ‘excellence and/or innovation in law firm financial management’. We were up against global players Eversheds, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills, so this KTP has really put us on the map, outside of our community of clients and associates. We have delivered several talks on the project too, at The Novak Druce Professional Service Firms Group annual conference at the Saiid Business School of Oxford University and to almost 100 business leaders from the region at a West Midlands Economic Forum event.

To any organisation considering a KTP, I could not recommend them higher. Building a relationship with a university gives you access to world renowned knowledge, technology and skills and can help you gain the funding that you need to use them.

My suggestion to ensure a successful project would be to get to know your academic supervisor well and spend time settling your Associate into the company because they are key to driving the project. We’ve now offered Krishna a full time position as our manager responsible for organisational change and project management and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds for us.

Are you involved in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership? How has your experience been? Join in with our KTP month and share your stories with us online, tweet us @NCUBtweets using the hashtag #KTPMonth.

KTP Summary Reports:
Expand for more