Posted by Callie Sierra
Technological innovation is a key driver of success for today’s legal sector. Law firms and legal departments of all sizes are engaging with new technologies to increase productivity, boost efficiency and more effectively collaborate with clients. Though technology itself can help solve some of these business challenges, implementing a successful solution can present its own nuanced set of complexities.
If you’re planning to introduce new technology within your firm, there are several key steps you need to consider - from carefully planning your project to gathering honest feedback. However, with the right approach, you can ensure your new technology is seamlessly integrated into the firm and adopted by lawyers and staff. Here, we share our eight-step guide to successfully implementing your latest legal technology solution.
1) Define your project plan
First, and foremost, you need a plan. Technology implementations should be treated just like any other large-scale project, and as such, require a project plan. Take the time to develop a formalised document that outlines the project’s objectives, identifies key stakeholders, delineates roles and responsibilities and provides a general outline for approaching the project. Essentially, the project plan will serve as the blueprint for how you plan to implement your technology programme.
When drafting your project plan, be sure to consider:
- Why are you implementing this new technology?
- What do you hope to achieve with the implementation?
- Who are the main stakeholders?
- What are some of the identified risks?
- What core benefits will the new technology offer end users?
- What is your timeframe for implementation?
- How will you evaluate the success of the technology implementation?
2) Identify key practice areas
Technology can advance law practices in many ways. Consider the current needs and processes of each practice to determine which practice areas are best suited to your new technology programme. For example, if you’re rolling out a new document automation solution, you may establish Mergers & Acquisitions as a practice area that will most likely benefit from the programme.
3) Select a practice pilot
To ensure adoption, it’s important to include lawyers and staff early on in the process and get them excited about the new tools available to them. Once you’ve identified practice areas that will benefit from your technology programme, narrow it down to a single practice group with which to pilot your programme.
By piloting the technology with a single practice group, you’ll gain valuable feedback and input into ensuring the programme meets the needs of the firm’s lawyers. Your pilot group can also serve as internal champions, which will be advantageous in promoting the project internally and driving firm-wide adoption.
4) Employ iterative development
Your selected pilot group should serve as the starting point for your project. Work with the pilot group to identify potential use cases for the technology and identify key areas of concern. As you develop the technology programme, be sure to include lawyers and staff in the process to gain valuable input and feedback. By gathering this information and testing early on, you can proactively address concerns before you roll out the programme to a broader audience. An iterative development approach also can help you achieve quick wins and build momentum for the programme.
5) Market your technology programme internally
To help drive adoption of your programme, it’s important to build buzz and excitement leading up to the official launch. Consider creating an internal marketing and communications plan to build awareness, interest and engagement amongst lawyers and staff. Some effective marketing activities and tactics might include developing a brand for your project, sharing early success stories from the pilot group or hosting town-hall style meetings to preview the new technology tools.
6) Coordinate internal launch
Now that you’ve successfully developed, tested, and marketed your technology programme, it’s time for launch. Preparation and coordination are key to a successful internal launch. As you approach the launch date, stay focused on the execution and be ready to address any last-minute issues. Appropriate communication and training will be crucial to determining the long-term success of the project.
7) Establish ongoing engagement
Keep up momentum after the launch by fostering ongoing training, education and communication with lawyers and staff. As lawyers and staff learn more about your programme, they’ll discover new features and tools that can help them be more productive and efficient. It’s also good practice to provide channels and opportunities for lawyers and staff to provide feedback and input.
8) Evaluate programme performance
Lastly, it’s important to evaluate the outcome of the project. Consider holding a project de-brief meeting 1-2 months following the firm-wide launch to assess the success of the project and identify any risks. Refer back to the key performance indicators in your original project plan to measure the overall impact of the programme.
Once you’re up and running on your new technology programme, you can start planning for the future. Think about how other practice areas or departments might benefit from your technology programme. Share your successes with other practice and department heads and consider other ways you can leverage your technology programme to differentiate your firm.
If you’re planning to introduce new technology within your firm, there are several key steps you need to consider - from carefully planning your project to gathering honest feedback.