As a technology firm ourselves, we can’t deny the impact the tech revolution has had on our daily lives (and livelihood). For all of us, technology has revolutionized everything about the way we work – and in many ways, it has made our lives easier. Just think how simple it is to find answers with the swipe of a finger or brush of a keystroke.
If not used correctly, however, technology can become a serious hindrance to your law firm. So much so that it can slow your firm’s growth – or stop it altogether.
Too much reliance on technology – without first thinking through how it can best serve you – can be dangerous. If you’ve ever heard someone wistfully say, “I just want it all to work…,” (cue magic finger wiggles), it’s time to raise a red flag.
In this article, we dive into four important ways you can use technology to help your firm grow, rather than have it hinder your growth. We’ll also offer suggestions for improving workplace efficiency by automating workflows and processes on your Mac.
Specifically, we’ll discuss the importance of:
- Technology as no magic bullet
- Why you must define problems first (before searching for solutions)
- How to gain internal support for the change
- Why you must stay on top of ongoing technology maintenance once you have implemented a solution
By approaching your law firm’s technology needs with the right mindset, you can set your business up for a strong growth trajectory. If you have questions about how to better implement tech solutions at your law firm, please get in touch with our team at Honeycrisp to schedule a free consultation.
Technology is No Magic Bullet
While it’s tempting to think some new technology, automation or slick software will solve all your problems, the truth is: technology is a tool. A tool that needs to be used correctly if you want it to help your firm grow.
As with any tool, you need the right one for the job. Sledgehammers are mighty powerful, but if you use it to pound a nail in your wall, you’ll just end up with a huge hole in your sheetrock.
At Honeycrisp, we’ve seen a large number of clients come to us seeking solutions without first having a clear definition of their problem. They want solutions – and fast.
We want you to grow too, but we want you to be smart about it so it’s sustainable, profitable, and doesn’t leave you with a gaping hole in your wall.
That is why the first step when considering any new technology solution is to define your problem first, then look for solutions.
Step 1: Define Your Problem
To find the right solution for your business needs, the best place to start is by defining your problems. Otherwise, the slow and clunky old processes that drag you down will continue to be slow and clunky new processes – just on a different platform and with a shiny interface.
Without getting to the heart of the real issue, you can’t find an effective solution, but so many firms are all too quick to purchase a solution without evaluating how it will help. They spend lots of money and waste lots of time on a technology that only holds them back.
Before even considering the specific kind of new technology you need, take time to gather information from your team.
- Where are they running into roadblocks? How is their time being spent (or wasted, depending on your perspective)? Efficiency is so important when you’re in the business of billing by the hour. The good news is that automation should be able to address many of these issues if implemented correctly (for more on processes you can easily automate on Macs, be sure to read this.
The crux of the problem with roadblocks, however, is that sometimes we don’t even know the roadblock exists. We make assumptions that something simply is not possible, so we disregard it as a potential roadblock (and in turn, fail to pursue a solution for it). When you dig a little deeper and perhaps even play devil’s advocate, it becomes clear that there are roadblocks – and roadblocks that can be remedied.
For example, many clients consider automation to be primarily document automation, like Mail Merge, but there are numerous repetitive tasks legal professionals do outside of a document every day that can also be automated. Tasks like moving a file from one folder to another for review, creating calendar events, or sending emails – these are all tasks that can be automated.
- What does the data say? How are time and money being used, and in what ways is that affecting your attorneys’ utilization rates? If you don’t have any data to go by, start with a gut estimate, but in today’s world, it’s really important to track your data so you can make informed decisions about your business.
- What workflows are you using, and how can they be improved? If the answer is none, be sure to read this.
Once armed with this information, you can move forward finding a solution that will effectively resolve your problems, but there’s another technology truth that must also be addressed: If you want your technology to work, it needs to be endorsed by the very people who will be using it.
Minimize Tech Problems by Getting Employee Buy-In Early
One of the biggest reasons we see tech problems hindering law firm growth is because their attorneys and staff are resistant to using it or are using it incorrectly.
Change is hard. Changing a process you’ve been following for years? Even harder. Add a splash of pushback or sheer stubbornness to the mix, and you could be in for a real battle.
But change is worth it, especially when it results in increased productivity and more billable hours for your attorneys.
When you’re turning to technology to streamline your operations and improve your productivity, it’s essential that you get your team involved right away. That means even as you’re brainstorming and collaborating on building the new processes.
Many attorneys, especially those in smaller firms, have become highly adept and efficient at managing their own workflow. While individualized processes may work surprisingly well for this one person, it may not be what’s best for the firm.
This reason alone, however, is not a good enough justification for changing processes. Your “why” needs to be specific, upfront and repetitive.
For example, if the new process is slower but means that attorneys can now take vacations because the data is in the system, that’s a message worth shouting from rooftops. Whatever change you implement will come with numerous benefits, but to make the change stick, you need to tout those selling points loudly, clearly and frequently to motivate attorneys to change.
Celebrate Your Success (But Don’t Forget the Oft-Forgotten)
You’ve implemented a new technology or automated a manual process. Great. But don’t get too comfy resting on your laurels.
There are a couple common issues we see law firms running into even after they’ve successfully implemented a new tech process. These are two that often rise to the top:
- Failing to upgrade technology – As technology ages, things slow down. If you’ve ever waited what seems like forever while your computer boots up, you know what we’re talking about.
Upgrading your technology will help your Mac run better and faster, which means less wasted time and increased productivity for you. It’s important to know that slow tech is a frustration you don’t have to deal with if you stay on top of software and tech upgrades.
Moreover, it’s worth putting in perspective just how cheap computers are. A $1,300 computer that’s used 45 hours per week for five years costs 11 cents per hour. You read that right – 11 cents per hour! You owe it to yourself – and to your assistant – to buy the biggest, fastest, sleekest Mac on the market.
- Foregoing standard maintenance – IT maintenance refers to the preventive measures you can take to not only extend the life of your existing technology but also to ensure that it continues to perform optimally while you have it. This includes things like:
- Running diagnostics,
- Replacing faulty components,
- Updating hardware and software as needed,
- Keeping a running list of your most common issues,
- Restricting access to files and cases, and
- Reading the product update releases (this is especially important for cloud services)
Technology serves its users most effectively when it also is given the attention it needs to perform at its best. Setting it and forgetting it might work for a while, but eventually, you will be right back where you started (or even further behind).
Keep your law firm at its most productive (i.e., churning out more billable hours) by engaging someone like us at Honeycrisp to manage your IT services for you. We’ll keep your Apple technology operating optimally and help you with all of your law firm technology needs. Get in touch to schedule a free consultation.