If spending is any indication, the legal sector is amidst a tech renaissance. Funding for legal tech startups increased from a modest $100 million in 2018 to $1.1 billion in 2019. New tech solutions promise to revolutionize the practice of law. So why has the impact been unimpressive thus far?

That’s because the people selecting legal tech solutions aren’t the same people using them. If they were, those decision-makers would quickly realize that the “game-changing” solution they discovered has the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of making users more productive and efficient, it slows them down, complicates their efforts, and causes stress. Users see the flaws in the software they use every day while their bosses remain blissfully ignorant.

Solving End Users’ Problems

Implementing legal tech that doesn’t serve the needs of end-users results in several adverse effects: wasted money, alienated employees, decreased efficiency, and lost productivity. And when law firms pick the wrong legal technology, they miss out on what the right technology could do for their practice. That’s why selecting the right legal tech solutions via the correct process is extremely important.

The decision-makers with buying power and influencers who dictate the firm’s tech strategy have essential input, but the most perceptive software evaluator is always the end-user. Incorporating the end-user into the selection process helps firms identify what pain points they need to solve and determine which software can genuinely help. End users can also point out roadblocks to implementation or buy-in so that firms can address them early.

This is also true for the IT professionals tasked with rolling out legal tech products and the auxiliary users at the ends of workflows. These stakeholders can speak to different products’ potential strengths, weaknesses, and practical viability. Unfortunately, these key stakeholders are often excluded from the selection process, leading to an underwhelming legal tech rollout and lackluster results.

Bringing More Perspectives Into the Software Selection Process

Legal firms need to bring lawyers, IT professionals, paralegals, and other key stakeholders into the software selection process without letting it become time-consuming and convoluted. Why? According to a Wolters Kluwer report, 57% of legal departments say they’ll invest in technology over the next three years, but 60% cite “difficulty of change management and leadership resistance to change” as barriers to successful transformation.

The key to rolling out solutions is bringing stakeholders and end-users into the legal tech innovation process. It might seem counterintuitive to involve more people and slow down the rollout, but that’s not the case. Rather, pulling in these individuals early can help firms avoid future roadblocks altogether. Here’s how legal firms can choose a solution that works for everyone:

Law firms shouldn’t commit to a software solution without having end users try it out first. Instead, discover whether it solves their most significant pain points and fits intuitively into their workflows. Their feedback might be harsh and may lead to a change in plans, but that’s better than selecting something that users resent or reject altogether.

Firms should ask open-ended questions about what end-users like and dislike to prompt useful feedback. The goal is to figure out precisely what they need in order to pick out the most applicable software. If it’s hard to find one solution that fulfills all their requests, law firms should compare all options and be transparent about their findings. This will increase buy-in and let employees know that their firms care about their input.

Law firms should also ensure that their leadership teams are entirely on board. After all, leaders are crucial to facilitating business initiatives and fostering employee buy-in. The best way to achieve this is by looking at the big picture.

  • Align technology with strategic goals.

It may be more difficult to convince leaders why a software solution is necessary. After all, they’re focused on large-scale corporate objectives. But by preparing information on the business value, firms can achieve their goals more quickly and secure executive support.

As an early step, legal firms should develop a plan that can be presented to stakeholders. It should demonstrate why the software solution is necessary and how it will benefit the business. An essential part of creating the case is pinning down which key performance indicators to track to determine success. Hard data will clarify to executives and other stakeholders that the solution is worth the investment.

The legal technology market has a product to fix seemingly every problem. However, instead of implementing tech as broadly as possible, firms should apply it to the practice areas that are the least efficient or the most valuable to long-term strategic goals. This will ensure leader buy-in and lay the groundwork for a successful rollout.

Before implementing new solutions, firms should test software products in small practice groups. Firms can uncover insights that help smooth out the tech rollout by exploring what works and what doesn’t. The participants in the pilot program can also become advocates to help encourage others to buy-in.

The reason most tech solutions fail is that end users aren’t sure how to use them. Since the beginning, individuals who have been a part of the process may be very familiar with the proposed software come rollout. Still, uninvolved employees are interacting with it for the first time. Launching pilot programs helps firms figure out what training people will need to take full advantage of software solutions or, more ideally, identify those solutions that are intuitive to use with less training.

Legal firms should remember that there will still be obstacles and questions along the way. In addition, it takes time for people to adapt to new technology. But the more proactive firms can be about onboarding and support, the better the results they’ll see.

There’s a fine line between transformative legal tech solutions and software that gets in the way. The more critical stakeholders involved in the selection process, the greater the chances of success.

Image Credit: Provided by the author; thank you!

Tim Scott

Head of Experience Design at Frogslayer

Tim Scott is head of experience design at Frogslayer, a custom software development and digital innovation firm that rapidly builds, launches, and scales digital products and platforms for clients.

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