In their new series “Ready, Set, Scale: How to Set Up the Systems You Need to Grow,” Karen and David Skinner help you prepare your practice for the growth you want. Use their three-step process to identify the best technology for your law firm and use it to your advantage.
Getting the Latest Technology Doesn’t Guarantee Efficiency
It’s hard to go a day without hearing about the latest in AI technology. Changes happen faster than you can say, “the rule against perpetuities.” It can feel like you’re falling behind if your firm isn’t on board with the latest trends or using that “groundbreaking software.”
It’s tempting to want to run out and buy every shiny new tech platform, but that won’t guarantee a boost in efficiency.
If you read our last post in the “Ready, Set, Scale” series, you’ll know that adding more people to a growing law firm isn’t always the solution. (Read “Add More SOPs Before You Add More People.”)
The same goes for technology: Resist the shiny butterflies.
Making the Best Use of Technology
Adding more tech to an inefficient process doesn’t create efficiency. You’ll just end up doing the wrong thing faster.
So before buying anything new, take a long, hard look at how you work and whether you’re making the best use of the resources and technology you already have.
Here are three steps that will help you identify the best technology for your law firm and make the best use of it in your practice.
1. Understand How Your Law Firm Works
Take the time to understand exactly how you and your team work:
- What tasks do you do most often?
- Can those tasks be automated?
- What are your specific needs?
- Where are you experiencing the greatest difficulty?
- What feels like it’s taking too long or seems too complicated?
Doing the work upfront means you won’t waste time or money on resources that won’t suit your practice or address your specific needs. In fact, implementing the wrong system could make your work harder …and that lack of efficiency and productivity is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.
2. Redesign Your Processes
If your underlying processes aren’t optimized, not even the best technology will magically solve your problems. You need to start by making your process visible and understanding how you work now and where the inefficiencies are.
Most often, eliminating those inefficiencies will require you to standardize the process you follow, create templates, and allocate the right people — and you’ll want to do that before you add in the technology. Why? Because if your processes aren’t standardized, you’ll spend far more time (and money) trying to tailor software systems to all your variations and permutations, and you may not get consistent results.
Make it a priority to create a library of standard operating procedures for your practice before you look for a technology solution.
3. Identify the Right Technology
Once you’ve got a standard process to follow, it will be much easier for you to see exactly where technology could help, and that will help you identify the right software solutions.
As David always says, technology doesn’t solve your problems, but smart people using the right technology properly can. Look for opportunities to inject technology that will make your work more accurate, faster and cheaper.
Remember to start with the technology you already have.
Most firms vastly underutilize the functions of their existing systems. For example, if you’ve got Microsoft 365, which has Planner and Bookings built right in, do you need a separate system for creating visual task management or scheduling meetings? Maybe … but start with what you’ve got and only add new tech if it delivers a must-have that your existing systems don’t.
Develop a Plan to Implement the New Technology.
People often ask us, “What’s the BEST technology for …?” Our answer is always the same. The best technology is the technology you’ll actually use. You could have the latest, greatest, most popular software available to your team, but if nobody uses it, it’s a waste.
Once you’ve decided you need something new, what’s the next step? Developing a solid plan for implementation and adoption. That includes a training program that sticks!
Work with the technology provider to plan your roll-out. Use their resources to train your team on the most important functions first, and ensure you prioritize that training. Your team needs to know that training is important, so give them time to do it, without having to choose between training and other billable work.
As implementation progresses, talk to your team. Troubleshoot adoption issues and identify the features where additional training is needed or where your process may need tweaking. And then use your new system.
Resist the Shiny Butterflies When Choosing the Best Technology for Your Law Firm
It’s hard to resist the shiny butterflies with their promises of magical solutions to your inefficiency issues. But resist you must.
Focus instead on finding technology you’ll use, in a streamlined process that works for your team. It may even be something you’ve already got. Once you’ve experienced the boost in productivity and efficiency you’ll get from implementing the right technology the right way, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.
For more from David and Karen, read:
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