As mentioned in an earlier post, keeping up with technology is both good and right practice. Technology, when employed properly and fully, allows for more efficiency, can help lower the likelihood of mistakes, and can free you up to spend more time on other important tasks, like marketing and client service, and time for yourself.
Despite its importance, institution of new technology isn’t always simple. But following these steps can help.
1. Start by understanding your needs and then pick products that address those needs.
Successful institution of technology requires more than just buying and installing the latest or shiniest new toy. The change should be driven by your practice needs, not the other way around. You want a tool that makes your good methods work better and shores up weak spots you encounter.
So, start by asking: what is working well and what regularly causes you headaches? Maybe there is room to automate some repetitive processes, like client intake information or the creation of billing cover letters. Maybe there is a way to eliminate duplicate tasks.
Then, armed with that information, do thorough analysis of the various products out there.
If possible and practicable, hire an independent consultant who understands legal practice and technology. At a minimum, take advantage of guidance offered by your local bar association or the ABA. Participate in vendor presentations and free trials.
Have your most tech-savvy person participate in this process, whether a lawyer or not, and consider having your least tech-savvy person be part of the vetting process too—if they can understand it, the rest of you should be able to.
2. Get trained by someone who understands what you do and what the technology does.
Believing the pitch that a technological tool is so “user friendly” that you can just open it up and use it without any additional training is a trap that too often leads to abandoned change efforts. Unless you are a technologically-sophisticated person who is thoroughly knowledgeable about the product, get outside training from someone about how to use it, or, at least, have someone in your office first take the time to fully explore all of the facets of the new product and then have them train everyone else.
3. Train in small segments
Too much information at once, coupled with the fatigue that change often brings, can lead to less than optimal use of whatever technology you are dealing with. Learn one part of the process, practice that, and then move on to the next.
4. Demonstrate good leadership
When the leader of the firm supports the change process, others will follow. Assign a good project leader to guide the institution of the new product and process, and make sure that their work in that area is appropriately credited and compensated. And support and applaud everyone’s efforts to adapt and change, recognizing that different people will move at different paces.
Change is good. But it also can be difficult. Patience, with yourself and others, may ultimately be the best “technology” of all.