After a law firm has made the decision to incorporate a certain form of technology into its practice, it’s critical to implement a robust onboarding and training process. Doing so helps ensure widespread buy-in, adoption, and use by attorneys and staff members alike.
The following are some general approaches to help your firm make the most out of its investment.
Make sure everyone is on the same page
The first step is to make sure everyone at your firm knows why you decided to invest in a particular technology. Are you investing in litigation analytics to get better insight and build a stronger case strategy? Are you investing in the latest legal research technology in order to more confidently and efficiently review work product? Make it abundantly clear what you expect to improve, make easier, or take less time thanks to this new tool. It’s hard for people to embrace a new idea when they don’t understand its genesis and benefits. It’s far easier when you can grasp the good it’s going to do.
“There’s a bit of expectation setting on the front end,” says Cherri Peterson, a marketing manager with Thomson Reuters who works with small law firms on onboarding and retaining new legal technology. “I don’t think that there’s anybody out there who’s going to believe you can implement some new system firm-wide and not run into a bump or two in the road.”
Don’t go into it alone
Second, don’t be shy about using the training and implementation tools your vendor created. Whether it’s a one-page FAQ document or a free series of training classes, your vendor developed these aids for a reason. The only cost to using these materials is time –which is really an investment that increases the chances of smooth sailing in the future.
“Make sure you partner with a company that has a long history and trusted reputation because you want to make sure that if you have problems in the future, the company is still there,” says Colleen Scimeca, a senior product strategist with Thomson Reuters who has spent more than 15 years as a consultant helping law firms through technology adoptions.
Practice, practice, practice
The technology you’ve invested in is going to require some training, so consider incorporating a practice session. It can be as simple as taking the final 10 minutes of an hour-long training course to have attendees work through a hypothetical situation. This is an important exercise because it’s one thing to think you know what you’re doing, and quite another to put that belief into practice. Hypotheticals and test cases are useful because there isn’t a deadline or chance of impairing a business process. People are also less likely to be timid when they know an expert (like your vendor’s training or customer success personnel) is on hand to resolve small issues or provide one-on-one coaching.
Provide avenues for feedback
Employees feel validated when they have the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions. To ensure everyone at your firm is on the right path with regard to technology, incorporate some sort of open channel of communication. Make sure you provide structure, however, as a free-for-all won’t be productive.
Possible options to consider are a one-hour listening session, a dedicated email address for questions, or a suggestion box (whether physical or digital). Giving your colleagues a chance to provide input can go a long way toward helping them feel like they are part of the process and not just along for the ride.
Report early successes
When the value of your technology starts to show, communicate this message throughout your law firm. Everyone likes a win, and knowing that the technology is taking off can boost engagement. A word of advice: make the means of communication proportional to the success. For example, when the first matter in which you used a project management or an electronic document service closes, it might be worth an office-wide email. Save the champagne toast for a much bigger occasion, like hitting a technology-bolstered business milestone, or reaching a certain revenue target.
To learn more about change management when it comes to technology, read the white paper Stop grinding the gears: How to make legal technology adoptions work at your firm.