At any company or firm, there’s a balance to find when selecting and implementing technology. It’s important to fulfill critical needs without burdening your team with too many tools, while also implementing each piece of software at a pace that allows sufficient training.
As you make important decisions about technology that will affect your entire firm, here are some must-have steps to include in your process:
Where are the breakdowns, the bottlenecks, and the time-suckers? At which points in your team’s workflows are mistakes most likely? The more you can pinpoint the biggest challenges in your firm, the better you can identify the gaps and work toward filling them.
This can be one of the hardest elements, as you might not even be aware of a tech-based solution if you’re accustomed to fulfilling a task the manual or analog way. Start at one end of the case workflow and make your way through to spot opportunities for improvement.
Whether your team members are accustomed to supplementing existing tools with their own favorite tools or there is a strict selection and implementation process, find out what sorts of software and tools are already on your team’s radar.
Maybe it’s the time tracker that one paralegal swears by or the integration that another has been trying to get the firm to use for months. Opening the floor to recommendations from your team will also encourage engagement and eventual participation when the time comes.
Do your research
As you begin to assemble lists of potential areas in which to invest in technology at your firm, take the time to search, browse, and research what options are out there. Talk to other firm administrators to see what their experience has been. Compare and contrast multiple approaches before getting attached to anyone and make lists of your pros and cons as well as your priorities. Also, know before you buy what the process of training will look like, including the timeline, materials, and other cost-related information.
Look for upgrades or add-ons to existing tools
Is vendor management an issue for your firm? Consider the ways that you could combine or consolidate your existing tools to make each relationship more valuable with fewer moving pieces to keep track of.
As more and more legal technology providers realize the value of allowing firms to do more with less, opportunities have increased to move different processes into fewer programs. Find out what your favorite vendors may have added to their offerings in recent months.
Confirm the budget
When the topic of money comes up, it’s rarely a question of all or nothing. Even if the process you are currently using is technically free, it’s possible that the time requirements on the people side are costing way more money than you realize.
Still, when proposing new purchases, or when supplementing existing processes with newer, better tools, budget will nevertheless be a factor. Include high-level estimates of the cost of the status quo in tandem with proposing new budget allocations to portray an accurate picture of the options.
Calculate the risks
Ideally, each new technology solution would mitigate more risk than it would create. But assessing the risks that exist without a particular tool is an important step in making final decisions. Circle back to those gaps you identified earlier on and consider the consequences for any one or more of those to persist. Then you can make an informed decision about which combination makes the most sense and invites the least risk.
Ensure rigorous training and maximum adoption
All the planning and research and consideration and decision-making in the world won’t matter if your team can’t or won’t use the tools as intended. Be sure to include plenty of time for transition and training to give your members the best chance at success possible.
This year, California became the 39th state to adopt a duty of technology competence. And while this applies specifically to attorneys, the introduction should signal to the entire firm the importance of being tech-savvy. To optimize your working processes while also protecting yourself and your firm.
Technology in your firm is less a question about if and more a question of when and how and to what extent. As you ask the questions and find the answers that will help your firm make informed decisions, look at your firm with a critical, bird’s eye view aimed at furthering the success of your work from start to finish.