Often, one of the biggest hurdles preventing a firm from moving into the modern age of legal practice management technology (case, document and financial management software) is the concern that their staff will not adopt the system and that the investment will end up being under utilised.
This fear is typically a result of experience or plain old speculation. It’s widely understood that a practice management system is only as good as the data that is entered. Therefore, the issue of user adoption in case management technology is an extremely important factor when considering investment in such a system.
Many attorneys, administrators and other decision makers within law firms will constantly decide to hold off on investing in case management technology, even though they acknowledge the need to operate more efficiently. Today, more than half of legal organizations still do not utilize a case management software. This is quite surprising considering how far along we are in the world with technology.
Doing away with old paper files and moving towards a real-time paperless office environment seems like a natural progression that any law office would have taken by now. But in the end, what good is the new technology if it’s not being used? Therein lies the rub.So, how do you find the right Document and case management technology system that you are sure your staff will utilise? Well, three basic questions need to be asked:
1) Does the system integrate into applications that my staff already uses on a daily basis?
2) Is the user interface easy to understand?
3) Does the vendor of the system have processes in place to implement and train my staff thoroughly?
An even more important factor in the decision-making process is making sure the proposed system integrates well with applications, most importantly the Microsoft Office suite of products. This will allow your staff to continue to work in an environment that they use day in and day out while becoming familiar with a new system. There are some software solutions in the marketplace that can handle items such as documents and emails, but there are only a selected few that embed their technology into these programs.
Every individual is going to have their own opinion on what makes a good user interface. Most professionals utilise Outlook for emails, calendar events and contacts, and spend the majority of their day in this program, so their comfort level in this environment is very high. If a Case management technology integrates with Outlook and Word also has the same look and feel, it’s a win-win for the firm.
Another important factor is the ability to quickly and easily find data in the system. Certain data that is relevant to one group might be pointless to another, so the system needs to allow for a large amount of flexibility and customisation. Probably the most important principle when evaluating systems is to make sure that the organisation providing the software has experience along with a defined process that focuses on implementation and training.
It can be challenging enough to convince your staff to start utilising a new system, but it becomes even harder when that system is either deployed remotely or without any training whatsoever. Regardless of how far technology has come, a person is not going to fully focus on learning to utilise a new software system if they are not receiving proper face-to-face training.
It is also very important to make sure the solution vendor has implementation consultants onsite after your firm is live with the software. Onsite training classes are very effective, but the most vital questions arise once staff members are using the new software with real-time data. An experienced onsite trainer is invaluable in these situations.