Smokeball’s Josh Taylor and Becky Bloom presented a continuing legal education course on best practices for implementing new legal technology to the Chicago Bar Association on February 19, 2019. Josh and Becky’s target audience was any small law firm owner with plans to update their firm technology.
In their presentation, Josh and Becky pointed out that many firms are so overwhelmed by the prospect of change, that they let this fear stop them from making any change at all. But, with the right technology solution implemented the right way, firms will be more productive in the long-run. The decision to not update and make a change may very well be a decision to continue inefficient processes.
Josh pointed out the comment to the ABA Model Rule 1.1, which was amended in 2012 to add a “Duty of Technology Competence,” and that a firm’s goal in implementing new technology is not to throw the firm off balance — it’s to better serve the firm’s clients.
So, how does a firm set themselves up for success when implementing a new technology solution? The best solution for “software analysis paralysis” is a three-step approach: preparing for change, executing the plan, and supporting the new processes.
Step 1: Preparation
Preparing for the change involves evaluating current systems, selecting what data is most important to keep and maintain, and divvying up responsibility amongst firm staff members. It’s important to ask oneself and firm members about pain-points and gripes with current processes. One of the most important steps in planning is to write down at least three firm goals — in a year’s time, a firm owner can check back in to see if their new technology solution has allowed them to meet these goals.
Step 2: Execution
The second step, execution, is just that: install new software, start using new hardware, and learn how to use these new solutions. The most important practical tip for the execution phase is to be sure to schedule time accordingly, and not to book over any important dates (like, say, a trial) that you know realistically cannot be skipped. It’s also important to confirm a “point person” both at the firm and possibly with your software solution provider, if one is available. For Smokeball provides an onboarding specialist to each and every firm to help with the data migration and onboarding process.
Step 3: Support
The third step is support — what practices can my firm implement to maintain the new software solution? Be sure to check in with your software provider and stay up-to-date on all changes. Some software companies will reach out proactively to let you know about these changes. For example, Smokeball’s award-winning Account Management team will schedule Smokeball Business Reviews in order to check in and make sure clients are getting the best use out of the software. Firm owners may also want to mandate ongoing training for all employees — even managing partners. If managing partners attend software trainings, the rest of the office staff are more likely to follow suit because they’ve seen the managing partners set good examples.