The purpose of having practice management software or a document management system in a government agency or law firm is to streamline the workflow, reduce expenses, and lower risk. Yet when problems arise within the agency or the firm, workers are often quick to blame the technology — “That’s not how we used to do it,” “I can’t figure this thing out,” “Can’t we go back to the old way” — and management starts thinking about switching software. But switching software doesn’t solve problems — so what does?
Software Needs vs. Expectations
When management talks about adopting technology for the office, they typically focus on expectations.
It’s expected that technology running in the cloud, for example, will eliminate the need to purchase and maintain servers in the office; it’s expected that technology will make documents easier to locate and keep matters better organized, for example.
Those are expectations, and they are based on a comparison of the way workers currently perform their tasks with the way management believes they could. If you were to take this list of expectations to the marketplace and speak with manufacturers who offer practice management software or document management systems for the legal industry, you would end-up purchasing and installing a product that workers would quickly grow to dislike.
Switching Software Doesn’t Help
Software manufacturers do one thing, and one thing only: they sell the product that they manufacture.
Because their sales teams get compensated only when they sell, there is a disincentive to walk away from an opportunity. If you bring your list of expectations to a software manufacturer, therefore, they will do everything they can to help you see how their software will meet your expectations. Your discussions with the manufacturer will center on how their product fits your expectations, not on how it fails to meet all your needs.
So, what about those needs? Your needs are largely unknown to you (despite how that sounds), simply because you don’t know what you don’t know. And, assessing your needs isn’t something you do often.
Here is where an experienced, unbiased consultant can make all the difference in the success of your software investment: because consultants earn their fee by aligning your needs with your expectations. That means first conducting a comprehensive needs assessment in your firm, followed by an audit of the systems you already have in place, and then, finally, a discussion about the products that can help you — and that’s the opposite of the way manufacturers engage you.
So, if switching software doesn’t solve problems, what does?
The answer is: an experienced, unbiased, product-agnostic consultant who will show you the areas in your practice that can benefit from technology, and introduce you to the products best-suited for your needs. Get a Technology Audit and Needs Assessment for your firm today.
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