As a practice owner or managing partner, it’s so easy to get into a routine for how you handle your business processes. Routines and SOP’s help make the world go round and having them is important for your firm! The challenge you face as a manager is preventing that routine from becoming a rut.
The legal field is competitive. Taking the time to make sure your technology is keeping up with your potential clients’ expectations and your team’s needs can make a true difference in whether or not that prospect retains you or your neighbor. Think about it, how many times have you researched a contractor or other professional to hire? You send inquiries to three or four different potential candidates but only two of them get back to you in a timely fashion or maybe one has a shorter timeline for the completion of your needed project than the others. How are you evaluating their value as a contractor? The resources they have available impact how you view them. The same is true of your clients.
Most firms today, use a Client Relationship Management and Billing system, like Clio, to help streamline your workflow. You’ve made tech updates before. You understand what it takes to implement a new system and, to be frank, the solicitations you see in your LinkedIn Messages or inbox just don’t seem worth the time and effort. While we encourage you to be skeptical of any vendor that reaches out to you cold, let them serve as a reminder to continually be evaluating your firm’s processes.
So now the big question: How can you tell which tech is worth the effort?
Start with identifying your firm’s biggest problems in terms of your process. As a savvy business owner, you probably have an idea of where your team could improve but when in doubt, refer to your bottom line.
Evaluating your cash flow should include an analysis of where your resources are going. Your biggest resource: time. We all know the saying “time is money” and when there are billable hours involved, there are no truer words. Look at your numbers and talk to your team. Where do they see time being spent unnecessarily? Is it in your drafting software? How about scheduling initial consultations? Or running endless reports attempting to make sense of your books and metrics?
Once you’ve identified your problems, put out some feelers and see how your peers are solving similar solutions. Do some research to see what resources are available to you. Start by checking your existing systems to see if you’re making the most of all their features first! There’s no need to vet someone new if you’ve got the solution at your fingertips.
But what if you need a new vendor? Don’t just go to the first one at the top of your LinkedIn messages and call it a day. Your clients take time to interview you, take time to interview your potential software/hardware vendors.
We know the money question is likely the number one on your list and you should always be conscious of your cash flow! That being said, there are some other important questions you should be asking. In vetting your potential vendors, also make sure to:
- Ask about the implementation timeline. Keep in mind “implementation” does not just mean that software or hardware has been installed. Implementation means the tech-based solution is fully up and running with training complete, all necessary files migrated, and any resources that might need to accompany the use of the tech has been created or made available to clients.
- Determine your benefits and return-on-investment (ROI). Potential vendors should be able to provide metrics that prove the effectiveness of their products and give you a rough projection of a timeline for you to achieve your desired results.
- Get detailed about the training and onboarding expectations. Having your team feel comfortable with the new software is crucial to your firm’s adoption rate. Training is a huge part of helping your team feel prepared to help you make the most of your newest tools. There will be no benefit from your investment if your team won’t use it.
- Keep focused on your original goal: solving your identified problem(s). Many of the resources available now have a lot of different features. Don’t be swayed by something intriguing about a vendor that doesn’t help solve your original concerns.
- Ask about updates and long-term support. Legal technology, like any other form of technology, will require maintenance or some other form of support down the line. Will you have a designated vendor-team member assigned to your account or a general customer service line? Make sure you understand the extent to which the vendor will help support your team if an update crashes the system. Take this opportunity to see what the potential relationship is for long-term support. If they don’t have a plan in place, pick someone else.
It can be daunting to take on a new system but letting your business process stagnate sets your firm up to operate at a disadvantage in your market. Empower your team to find solutions in the new resources available and take your firm to the next level in terms of profitability.