Originally posted on January 24, 2011 at http://jlellis.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/time-for-a-technology-checkup/
cnet has an interesting article on how mid-sized companies are utilizing technology to grow leaner and more successful while larger and smaller companies are not. This leads me to wonder whether law firms are taking advantage of technology in a proper way or are missing the opportunity to use technology to make their businesses run efficiently; something that is especially important in these difficult times.
I have always been a big advocate for using technology wisely, as opposed to purchasing technology just because it is the next big thing. I recommend firms and business take some time every year to look at whether their technology is working for them. So is it time for you to ask yourself if your firm is using technology in a way that makes sense? Perhaps it is time for a technology checkup.
A blog post that looks at every aspect of use of technology in a law firm would end up being a several hundred page book; so today I’d just like to share with you a couple of thoughts I have about purchase and implementation of technology in law firms and other types of businesses.
Redundancy of Labor
Let’s start with an important reason to purchase technology; redundancy of labor. It is incredibly common for employees to enter data two or more times into a data system; assuming the business has a data system at all. If this is your firm, this is one of the first places you can start to improve your efficiency. Another thing to ask yourself is whether you have employees repeating each others’ work. This is also a common phenomena, arising from the days when a lot of duplication was necessary due to lack of appropriate technology.
The goal of any business should be to enter data only one time, having a system that everyone can access and a database that enables use of data in every way necessary. Sometimes it can be hard to find a system that enables a business to do this, but if you can find one that works for you, or at least minimizes the amount of repetition, you will immediately find your business running more efficiently. The saying time is money is correct. Efficiency saves time, which saves money, which results in higher profitability.
Let’s say you have found the right combination of hardware and software to help reduce instances of redundancy of labor, now you are ready to go, right? Nope.
Train Your Staff
A major error a lot of businesses make is purchasing technology without proper implementation, especially as relates to training. If the staff cannot use the technology the efficiency you hoped to achieve won’t occur and everyone will simply become frustrated.
To be very frank a business might as well not even make the purchase if the staff doesn’t know how to properly use the technology. If you are going to spend the money on technology spend the money and time to train your staff. You won’t regret it.
Insist on Use – Obtain Buy In
In any company there are always individuals who refuse to change the way in which they do things. This attitude is a problem and interferes with the improvement in efficiency and can often wreak havoc throughout the staff. People will ask, why do I have to use it if X isn’t using it? Half the staff will use the new technology, half won’t and efficiency will be lost.
It is crucial that when technology is implemented everyone understands the necessity of using it. The way to get everyone to use new technology is to obtain buy in. Whomever is implementing the technology must help the people who don’t want to use it appreciate that the new technology will make work easier, not harder. This returns us to training and why it is so important. If staff cannot appreciate why the application will help because they cannot use it, they won’t want to, buy in won’t be achieved and the purchase will be pointless.
No one should be above using the new technology. In some cases that might mean having the person work with a staff member who will help him or her use the new item(s), if that is necessary so be it.
It is important to understand the point of purchasing technology, how new software will improve the efficiency of the business or firm, help the staff to appreciate the impact on the bottom line, and make sure the staff is comfortable using the new item(s).
If you are able to achieve these goals you will no doubt find your office running in a more efficient and productive fashion.