Choosing Technology: Not for the Faint of Heart, Part I

Much has been written about the benefits of technology for lawyers but not as much about how to actually make purchase decisions or implement new solutions. I firmly believe that to successfully implement any technology, you must start with the end in mind. I recently had the opportunity to speak with some legal technologists, all of whom are participating in LegalShield’s third annual Elevate conference. Below is a compilation of their advice on how to approach a technology choice. We will discuss implementation tips in Part II.

Choosing Technology

Technology projects require an open mind and an enthusiasm for innovation. In my thirty-plus year career, I have never seen a technology choice and implementation that did not require change. The key is to ensure that you research and plan properly to avoid purchasing software that is not used. The cost of this “shelfware” is more than the price tag for the technology. At risk is also you and your teams’ valuable time, plus the lost opportunity to leverage the technology to benefit clients and your firm.

What is your problem?

Amy Boley of Thomson Reuters identified the core issue of any business change: “Clarify what problem(s) the technology is designed to solve.” Allen Rodriguez, Founder of ONE400 adds, “First list out your requirements and desired business outcomes, next design the workflow you’d like to implement to accomplish those outcomes, and then share those requirements with potential vendors and have them demonstrate to you how the technology meets those needs.”

Go to the cloud

Lisa Pansini, Creative Manager at Rocket Matter: “Use a cloud-based solution. This will ensure that you and your staff are able to access the technology no matter where you are or what hardware you are using. You’ll have real-time access to vital information and be able to perform work while on-the-go.”

Do your homework

Lori Gonzalez, President, RayNa Corporation: “Do research on at least two to three options for the same problem. I almost never choose a program right out of the box unless I have first tested several others.”

Keep it simple

Stephen Zetzer, CEO, eWranglers, LLC: “Keeping it simple is easier said than done. In reality, and if you are diligent, you will likely use 20% of the features of any software that you buy. Be mindful that you don’t over complicate your technology.”

Check where it works

Jason Velez, CEO, 1Law:  “Does it work well on a smartphone? Do all the features that are available on the desktop appear on the smartphone app? Is it device and platform agnostic, or in other words, does it work on Apple and Android devices as well as laptops and chrome books?

Consider short and long term costs

Alexander Verno, Friedman, Framme & Thrush, P.A.: “How hard would it be to move to another system if you ever decide to make a change? Is the system easily scalable? Are there costly yearly renewal/maintenance fees? Price should not be the primary factor but it is important to know exactly what you are getting into.”

Try before you buy

Stephen Kane, CEO, FairClaims: “Perhaps beware of companies that don’t let you try before you buy, depending on the software solution.”

Alexander Verno also shared a famous Bill Gates’ quote, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” In other words, don’t just jump to technology without first analyzing your problems or pain points and then review the workflow to ensure that technology is actually the solution.

Next time, we will shift to some tips around technology implementation. If you are interested in learning more about legal technology for your practice, along with earning up to 13 hours of CLE, please join us in Denver June 20-22, 2019 for Elevate by LegalShield. If you have a technology implementation story, whether good, bad, or ugly, please reach on Twitter @maryjuetten. #onwards.

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