“Legal Innovation” is not always about technology; it’s about a change in practice that improves the delivery of legal services through better value to your clients. That “change” can involve technology, but it doesn’t always have to.
If technology is part of the Innovation or Process Improvement that you are undertaking, your firm’s users must adopt the technology fully for any profound “change” to occur. If you are considering the implementation of any new technology, try to include the following steps. They will help you realize your new technology’s full value – and avoid finding yourself in a web of software sprawl.
- Align technology with strategic change
Before you even start looking at any new shiny technology, ask yourself: What are you trying to do better, or what new thing are you trying to do? If the process in your firm is broken, chances are technology will not make it better. You will just be automating a broken process. If the thing you are trying to do better can be improved, will any new technology accomplish all of this or only parts of it?
If you break down the process to its various “moving” parts, you may have an easier time finding the right technology for each part, rather than finding the perfect technology that “does it all.”
Lastly, consider what other processes will be impacted by any technology. If you are automating one part of a process, will the other non-automated parts adapt to the new workflow easily, or will the new technology create a new bottleneck in your process?
- Compatibility of systems
Chances are, there will be more than one new piece of software that will fill your needs. When making choices on which to try or buy, consider which technology does this best versus which technology does this well-enough AND integrates well with your other current systems. If your new piece of shiny new tech does not play well with systems your team already uses, it will be hard to get widespread adoption; worse, it might create further inefficiencies in your processes
- Communicate early and often for buy-in and engagement
Identify all users who will be using the new tools and get them involved in the search, trials and purchase decisions. If you get users involved in screening new technology, they will be more invested in the outcome. Top-down requests (demands?) to adopt new systems don’t generally work.
A piece of shiny new technology might impress a group of lawyers, but if their clerks and assistants don’t like it, it’s not worth the investment. However, beware of internal blockers – those who cling to the old way of doing things. “I don’t trust [the new thing] to do it correctly,” or “I can do it faster myself!” Nobody likes change, especially if someone has been doing the same thing for years. If they know why and how the improvement will occur and have input along the way, they are less likely to resist.
- Training is Key
I remember reading the printed owner’s manual that comes with most appliances or electronics. They would start with “Congratulations on the purchase of ……” and then outlined what and how the new thing worked. With most new legal technology and software, you rarely get any manual or user guide. After you sign up, you are lucky to get a set of video “tours” of the systems and a link to the support page.
This self-help approach might work for some users and firms but spending the time — and money where needed — to get all your users trained adequately on the software is the quickest way to achieve the full value from your new shiny technology. Just as necessary as onboarding and training is getting follow up training after 30-60 days to ensure that everyone on your team is maximizing the use of the new tech. You can use these follow-up sessions for diving deep into how your users need or want to use the technology or get answers to nagging issues. Any provider that is unwilling to spend the time with you to solve your problems and maximize the value of their product shouldn’t get your business.
As the VP of Customer Support at Matter365, it is my role to ensure that every new customer gets up and running on our platform as quickly and as painlessly as possible and to get the value of a fully integrated Legal Practice Management system. To ensure that, we provide initial onboarding and training. We also follow up with customers at regular intervals with offers of ongoing training and support to ensure that all firm members have the skills and knowledge required to effect the “change” promised by the adoption of a new piece of shiny technology.
Rohit Parekh is a Registered Trade-mark Agent and practices intellectual property law. In addition to the practice of law, as the VP of Customer Success at Matter365, Mr. Parekh develops and implements processes and workflow solutions for legal services to maximize efficiency and value.
Schedule a consultation to learn how Matter365 can help your firm adopt change, not just technology.