Sticky-notes, Excel sheets and email threads a mile long are not the ideal basis for organized productivity but rather for time consuming chaos. A solution? Introduce a project management software. Sounds straightforward, though, often project management advocates have a hard time convincing upper management as well as co-workers of the benefits of introducing Project Management (PM) software. When trying to win them over, the well-established habits practiced day-in and day-out in your law firm are the real enemy. Not because they’ve necessarily worked so well, but because our human nature makes us averse to change.
Here are three arguments you can use to get everyone on board and make the transition from pen and paper to a PM software:
Project management software is a real time saver
Let’s get this tricky line of argument sorted first. If you argue for the introduction of a PM software based on its time saving capabilities, be prepared to face the following objections:
- But will it not take a lot of time to set up?
- But will it not need a lot more maintenance than our spreadsheets?
- But will it not take a lot of time to enter all our data?
Now, resist the urge to reply “Yes, but…” because then you’ll have lost the argument before even discussing the real time saving benefits of a PM software.
Instead, do your homework before pitching for a PM solution:
- Make sure the selected software integrates into your existing work environment and has an API to connect it, say, to your accounting software. That way set up will be smooth and quick.
- Make sure that you choose a software-as-a-service solution if you have neither an IT admin, nor your own server structure and lack the funding to acquire one. Your software of choice should include hosting, maintenance, and support services.
That should sort out the first two objections.
The third one is a mean one, because, yes of course you’ll need to invest time into entering your existing data. If, however, you make sure that the PM software integrates into the systems already in place, usually data like contacts and documents can be transferred automatically. Once client data and documents are available, starting to manage tasks, plan projects, make time entries and expanse estimates with your PM software instead of spreadsheets, whiteboards or pen and paper is easy.
Now, for the real time saving benefits. Fully integrated and full-featured PM software functions as a one-platform solution for all project and day-to-day work. In short, this means that all your client data, documents, templates, to-do-lists, notes, time entries, expense estimates etc. are in one place. And it gets better: the data you work on is updated in real time and everyone who is involved in the project is also updated in real time. No more double work or duplicated documents and no more missed notes or emails. Also, the development of standardized processes, workflows, and templates will increase efficiency, and save time, thus reducing costs. And finally, you will have a tool that helps you understand how things get done and where there is room for improvement.
Project management software enables access to your cases everywhere, anytime in a mobile and globalized legal landscape
Having access to your project data and cases wherever, and whenever is one of the biggest benefits of implementing a PM software. Let’s say, your law firm has several offices in different states, countries and, therefore, different time zones. PM software enables team members to have access to all relevant data on one platform and allows them to react more quickly to changes in cases through notifications that inform everyone wherever they are. Having a software to plan your cases gives you the additional bonus of your scheduled deadlines or milestones being automatically converted for each individual time zone.
Even if you work in a smaller office or team, being able to quickly check progress, updating a document or looking up who is responsible for a certain task is a real benefit. So, choose a software that fits your mobile needs – are you working while commuting to work? Then make sure the software also works offline and updates automatically once it has internet access again. Mobile access usually means by smartphone or tablet, so having a software that either provides you with a mobile app or a browser app is really handy.
Bottom line: a PM software will not only be useful while in the office, but will aid you throughout the day between client meetings, the courtroom and on your commute to and from work. You and your team are always up to date and can provide your clients with the latest updates even on short notice, benefiting your client relationship as well as team work. Which leads us to the third benefit of PM software.
Project management software fosters communication, collaboration, and knowledge-exchange
Being able to share documents, work on tasks together, get updated on changes and have a visualization of project progress on a timeline facilitates team collaboration. Why? Because it makes communication transparent and people can be held accountable. Sounds threatening? On the contrary, it will lead to a more structured and thought-out chain of communication and team work.
Collaboration means working together to solve a problem. For problem solving, accessing the right kind of information to find the best solution in the shortest amount of time possible is key. For this, most PM software solutions let you add notes to tasks, documents, or whole projects. Detailed descriptions of problems or difficult questions and how they were resolved (and by whom) are valuable resources to fall back on when something similar arises. Thus, a PM software functions as a sort of digital knowledge base.
These three pillars of problem solving, communication, collaboration, and knowledge-exchange are vital if you want to keep your cases from getting out of scope and being able to manage deadlines and accompanying risks.
Are you feeling confident to approach your management now? Do your research first and select a couple of project management solutions that fit your requirements, arm yourself with a sticky-note with the three arguments above on it, and chances are good you’ll walk out of your boss’s office with a mandate to get a PM solution implemented as soon as possible.