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The information economy has led to an increase in the rate of change for organizations. As the volume and speed of information flow have increased, so has the need to address and adapt to change. Law departments are no longer immune to organizationwide changes or the information explosion. Therefore, law departments need to continuously update existing systems or implement new technology in order to improve efficiency, productivity and quality.

The best technology in the world, however, does not help much if it is not adopted fully and used every day by all lawyers, support staff and outside counsel. Maximizing adoption and use is critical to ensure change will be lasting and provide a return on investment in terms of saved time, reduced costs, accessibility of institutional knowledge, reduced risk and so on.

Since change is very personal, driving acceptance to it must also be very personal. The following article discusses changes in management before, during and after implementation of technology to maximize user adoption and return on investment.

Leadership and Tone at the Top

The tone leadership sets at the outset of the project determines how successful it will be. Absolute clarity of the mission demonstrates conviction and helps align the law department around a common cause.

To make it a journey worth undertaking, leadership should plan and celebrate achievements along the way, frequently celebrating “wins” that users can rally around. Leadership and key stakeholders should agree on carefully defined milestones and metrics to achieve transparent accountability. Appreciating success in bite-sized chunks with the completion of each phase strengthens the team’s resolve for achieving the next win.

User Involvement: The More the Better

Building a solution with upfront input from users costs less in the long run than having to fix problems later. User involvement yields proportional credibility, acceptance and ownership of change. Regardless of the change being instituted, stakeholder involvement is paramount.

Building user acceptance is a crucial first step. The law department user may not be in control of the impetus for change (it could be a top-down mandate or a business need), but through involvement each user can impact the outcome. While implementing systems, there is opportunity to involve attorneys and staff during requirements gathering, process definition, application design, testing, training and support. These opportunities allow them to communicate their needs, wants and concerns while giving the implementation team room to react to those. The effort and involvement may vary throughout this process.

The ultimate form of acceptance is ownership. Ensuring that users feel responsible for the care and feeding of the system keeps it current and guarantees it is used the way it was intended. Leadership can foster ownership by delegating accountability to stakeholders with clear roles. The project team can support this during implementation and operations by increasing user familiarity. Activities such as governance committees, system demonstrations and trainings all help the cause.

Messaging and Marketing: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Change and communication go hand in hand, and selling change to stakeholders is a continuous process. A typical technology transformation initiative may include stakeholders from multiple areas such as legal staff, business users, law firms (billing, collaboration) and finance staff. Marketing to these constituencies plays as crucial a role as delivering the technology solution.

A good starting point is identifying “project champions” from a cross-section of stakeholders who support the project and understand its value. The messaging should take into account a user’s motivations, fears and resistance and address pain points. It should educate everyone on the possibilities and clarify the value proposition. Tailoring the message to stakeholder groups and highlighting how their day-to-day work experience will be improved is important. This may mean different communications for leadership, attorneys (domestic and foreign), staff and outside counsel.

It is often best to overcommunicate, consistently and frequently. Everyone takes in communication differently, so using varying methods helps. Email, video, portals, newsletters, social media and more should all be leveraged to gain attention, as well as in-person meetings and workshops.

Real and Perceived Value to the User

Any good marketer or salesperson will tell you that value lies in the eye of the beholder. It is important to address “what’s in it for me?” from a user’s perspective. This requires translating the broader value proposition of the change to a personal level. Typical challenges that legal staff perceive include too many steps, extra work created, how it helps the legal activity and so on.

The focus should be on delivering value. This value-based approach can be demonstrated to users by leveraging best practices and/or getting expert help during implementation. Reducing the number of mundane issues to solve by thoroughly applying available knowledge will earn the goodwill of users. Importantly, it helps them focus on their daily work because they can validate a proposed item as opposed to spending time in creating a solution for it.

Users react positively to technology that reduces steps, has readily available support and causes minimal disruption to their day-to-day lives.

Training

People who do not know how to use a tool will not use it—or worse, use it incorrectly. Sticky training routines require processes to be the star of the show; if the tool is designed well, the “clicks” will be easy to remember.

An effective training plan incorporates frequent role-based and function-specific trainings and multiple delivery methods ranging from live events led by a trainer to self-service videos to online demos and tests.

Many implementations are better served with a “train the trainer” approach, where the trainer can be a practice area system champion, a regional user or a functional owner. This approach allows training to take place in small, digestible pieces, incorporating regular Q&A with “power users” on-site to help the others.

Focusing on value and user needs yields best results. Some additional items to include in the training arsenal include self-service materials, a dedicated support email address where users can send questions and requests, meeting global users and their time zone needs—and don’t forget the pizza.

Post-Implementation Messaging and Marketing

The work will not be over when the project goes live. Success rides on the willingness and ability of all stakeholders to use—and continue to use—the new process and tools. Building and maintaining a support system, including the business and technical team, local champions and power users, outreach from leadership and, in many cases, an ongoing governance committee will remain critical. Often overlooked is the support, which includes future technology updates, refresher training, ongoing outreach with tips and tricks, as well as a feedback loop so that the technology team can keep abreast of what’s working and what’s not.

As always, what gets measured gets managed. Measuring usage metrics allows for the identification of pain points. Providing users and management with usage metrics on a regular basis helps generate dialogue and action on adoption gaps.

Successful adoption of technology yields a maximum return on investment in terms of saved time and costs, improved/faster decision-making and institutional knowledge capture. Change is an ongoing process that starts before a technology implementation begins and continues after it is completed. Continuous change requires continuous change management. Most importantly, a user-centric approach will result in a purpose-built tool that is embraced by the law department and, ultimately, utilized daily to improve the department’s effectiveness and efficiency.

The information economy has led to an increase in the rate of change for organizations. As the volume and speed of information flow have increased, so has the need to address and adapt to change. Law departments are no longer immune to organizationwide changes or the information explosion. Therefore, law departments need to continuously update existing systems or implement new technology in order to improve efficiency, productivity and quality.

The best technology in the world, however, does not help much if it is not adopted fully and used every day by all lawyers, support staff and outside counsel. Maximizing adoption and use is critical to ensure change will be lasting and provide a return on investment in terms of saved time, reduced costs, accessibility of institutional knowledge, reduced risk and so on.

Since change is very personal, driving acceptance to it must also be very personal. The following article discusses changes in management before, during and after implementation of technology to maximize user adoption and return on investment.

Leadership and Tone at the Top

The tone leadership sets at the outset of the project determines how successful it will be. Absolute clarity of the mission demonstrates conviction and helps align the law department around a common cause.

To make it a journey worth undertaking, leadership should plan and celebrate achievements along the way, frequently celebrating “wins” that users can rally around. Leadership and key stakeholders should agree on carefully defined milestones and metrics to achieve transparent accountability. Appreciating success in bite-sized chunks with the completion of each phase strengthens the team’s resolve for achieving the next win.

User Involvement: The More the Better

Building a solution with upfront input from users costs less in the long run than having to fix problems later. User involvement yields proportional credibility, acceptance and ownership of change. Regardless of the change being instituted, stakeholder involvement is paramount.

Building user acceptance is a crucial first step. The law department user may not be in control of the impetus for change (it could be a top-down mandate or a business need), but through involvement each user can impact the outcome. While implementing systems, there is opportunity to involve attorneys and staff during requirements gathering, process definition, application design, testing, training and support. These opportunities allow them to communicate their needs, wants and concerns while giving the implementation team room to react to those. The effort and involvement may vary throughout this process.

The ultimate form of acceptance is ownership. Ensuring that users feel responsible for the care and feeding of the system keeps it current and guarantees it is used the way it was intended. Leadership can foster ownership by delegating accountability to stakeholders with clear roles. The project team can support this during implementation and operations by increasing user familiarity. Activities such as governance committees, system demonstrations and trainings all help the cause.

Messaging and Marketing: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Change and communication go hand in hand, and selling change to stakeholders is a continuous process. A typical technology transformation initiative may include stakeholders from multiple areas such as legal staff, business users, law firms (billing, collaboration) and finance staff. Marketing to these constituencies plays as crucial a role as delivering the technology solution.

A good starting point is identifying “project champions” from a cross-section of stakeholders who support the project and understand its value. The messaging should take into account a user’s motivations, fears and resistance and address pain points. It should educate everyone on the possibilities and clarify the value proposition. Tailoring the message to stakeholder groups and highlighting how their day-to-day work experience will be improved is important. This may mean different communications for leadership, attorneys (domestic and foreign), staff and outside counsel.

It is often best to overcommunicate, consistently and frequently. Everyone takes in communication differently, so using varying methods helps. Email, video, portals, newsletters, social media and more should all be leveraged to gain attention, as well as in-person meetings and workshops.

Real and Perceived Value to the User

Any good marketer or salesperson will tell you that value lies in the eye of the beholder. It is important to address “what’s in it for me?” from a user’s perspective. This requires translating the broader value proposition of the change to a personal level. Typical challenges that legal staff perceive include too many steps, extra work created, how it helps the legal activity and so on.

The focus should be on delivering value. This value-based approach can be demonstrated to users by leveraging best practices and/or getting expert help during implementation. Reducing the number of mundane issues to solve by thoroughly applying available knowledge will earn the goodwill of users. Importantly, it helps them focus on their daily work because they can validate a proposed item as opposed to spending time in creating a solution for it.

Users react positively to technology that reduces steps, has readily available support and causes minimal disruption to their day-to-day lives.

Training

People who do not know how to use a tool will not use it—or worse, use it incorrectly. Sticky training routines require processes to be the star of the show; if the tool is designed well, the “clicks” will be easy to remember.

An effective training plan incorporates frequent role-based and function-specific trainings and multiple delivery methods ranging from live events led by a trainer to self-service videos to online demos and tests.

Many implementations are better served with a “train the trainer” approach, where the trainer can be a practice area system champion, a regional user or a functional owner. This approach allows training to take place in small, digestible pieces, incorporating regular Q&A with “power users” on-site to help the others.

Focusing on value and user needs yields best results. Some additional items to include in the training arsenal include self-service materials, a dedicated support email address where users can send questions and requests, meeting global users and their time zone needs—and don’t forget the pizza.

Post-Implementation Messaging and Marketing

The work will not be over when the project goes live. Success rides on the willingness and ability of all stakeholders to use—and continue to use—the new process and tools. Building and maintaining a support system, including the business and technical team, local champions and power users, outreach from leadership and, in many cases, an ongoing governance committee will remain critical. Often overlooked is the support, which includes future technology updates, refresher training, ongoing outreach with tips and tricks, as well as a feedback loop so that the technology team can keep abreast of what’s working and what’s not.

As always, what gets measured gets managed. Measuring usage metrics allows for the identification of pain points. Providing users and management with usage metrics on a regular basis helps generate dialogue and action on adoption gaps.

Successful adoption of technology yields a maximum return on investment in terms of saved time and costs, improved/faster decision-making and institutional knowledge capture. Change is an ongoing process that starts before a technology implementation begins and continues after it is completed. Continuous change requires continuous change management. Most importantly, a user-centric approach will result in a purpose-built tool that is embraced by the law department and, ultimately, utilized daily to improve the department’s effectiveness and efficiency.