Change management and preparation for new technologies
Improving your law firm in an increasingly competitive environment often relies on technological upgrades to increase capacity. This could be an attempt to increase efficiency, reduce costs, or reduce repetitive administrative tasks.
But the introduction and implementation of new technologies and the associated operational changes is not an easy task. If your team is pressed for time or worried about learning a new platform, getting everyone on board can be difficult.
For example, 53% of 700 lawyers surveyed said the biggest obstacle to change for law firms is the difficulty of change management and the resistance of executives to change, according to the 2020 Future Ready Lawyers Survey.
This resistance can have consequences that cause organizations to miss out on the benefits of new technology.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to effectively manage change and prepare for new technology in your business.
Paint a clear picture of the “before” and “after”
Implementing new technology can be a tough task at times. So it is good to find out the “why” behind the change. In this way, your team retains the motivation to find, evaluate and integrate the new platform.
To make the reasons for the change understandable to your team, draw a clear “before” and “after” picture. Before you search for the right provider, host a meeting and make sure everyone is on the same page:
- The problems you want to solve: Do people spend too much time on repetitive legal texts? Do people want more time to talk to customers?
- The scope of the change: What aspects of your jobs will change? What will certain processes look like after adoption?
- The implementation period: When does it happen? When are documents migrated? Will there be a training / entry phase? And if so, how long does it take to start up?
- Advantages / ROI: When do you see an ROI? In a month or a year? And how can you act better as a lawyer after this move?
The unknown causes fear and worry. But once everyone can imagine how the change will affect their life, it won’t seem so scary anymore, especially if the afterimage is one where they can spend more time doing the essentials. That could mean more family time or less headache at work.
As your team aligns with a vision of the future, they are more willing and able to work together to make the vision a reality.
Dealing with internal objections is part of the process
There will always be concerns about the introduction of new technologies. People will ask, “How will it change the way I work with X?” Or say, “We don’t have enough time to learn a new system.”
It is at this time that you begin to mentally move from an idea to a concrete change. And it is during this critical thought process that objections come to mind.
So if the objections come from your team, don’t ignore them. Instead, accept them as part of the process. Then, discuss each objection so you can manage your team members’ worries and concerns before the onboarding process begins.
You want to do this early in the process. This prevents dissatisfied employees from potentially affecting the success of a new tool.
Run the debates early, work them through, and come out as a stronger group at the end.
Put together an implementation team
The introduction of new technologies is not a one-person task. You need a dedicated team to manage every part of the change, from assessment to training.
In general, the more people that use the software, the larger the implementation team, because you want proponents of the new solution to help connect with the rest of the organization.
Here is an effective composition of an implementation team:
- Project owner: Usually the person who leads the change. This can be a partner, the CEO, or another seasoned member of the team. This person assigns other roles.
- Project manager: Responsible for organizing the implementation process, including budgeting, defining technology requirements and creating a list of potential vendors.
- System administrator: Works together (often with IT) to oversee the establishment of the system. This should be a tech-savvy person as some software setups can get complicated.
- Superstar end users: The contact person (or people) who act as the liaison between end users and the implementation team. During the implementation, Superstars are available to assist end users with troubleshooting.
Also, remember that the success of your project depends on the enthusiasm and motivation of the people who lead the change. So add the most dedicated members of your company to this team.
High quality training drives user adoption
Nobody wants to use something they don’t fully understand. If your team is not properly taught how to do something, it will revert to old, less efficient systems.
Companies rely on new technologies. Everyone is excited. But after those first onboarding meetings nobody uses it and the ROI remains invisible. This is why it is so important to create an effective, personalized training program that ensures that the relevant team members are comfortable with the new platform.
So how do you do that? Here are a few tips for training your team on the new system.
- Leverage influential users: Along with your superstar, those who succeed faster can help those who are struggling.
- Document the processes in one central location: Sometimes lawyers just want to find out for themselves. You can do this easily if the processes and technical information can be easily referenced.
- Organize individual sessions: Some people may not raise concerns or challenges in a group session.
- Focus on the most important functions: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the bells and whistles of new software. To avoid flashbang, stick to the most important functions for now. Then when people are comfortable, you can move on to others.
Make sure to ask your provider about training opportunities. Many technology companies offer online “learn at your pace” courses, white papers, and other training materials.
Build a culture of efficiency
When you have a process that works, you can quickly equip your lawyers with the latest and greatest technology as it hits the market. This gives you more time for the essentials – for your clients.
This can be part of your law firm’s culture as you prioritize efficiency and reduce waste. As efficiency becomes part of your company’s DNA, you’ll get better at implementing new technology.