3 Key Factors for
Successful Technology Implementation

Whether it’s at a law practice or anywhere else, innovation doesn’t just happen. Implementing new technology requires three essential components that must successfully interact: motivation, capability, and integration. Let’s look at how that how those interactions typically play out at a trusts and estates practice that wants to take advantage of all that new technologies have to offer.

1.  Motivation

This is the most obvious component. It’s the why for making a change. It encompasses all the ways that your practice might be falling short, including:

•   Missed deadlines that damage your reputation and could lead to financial penalties
•   Persistent inaccuracies that undermine productivity and team harmony
•   Attorneys not realizing their full potential
•   No single truth view of practice-wide activity
•   No easy way to manage handover issues when a team member leaves
•   Difficulty tracking vault content

2.  Capability

If motivation is the why, capability is the how. This is where implementing new technology gets harder. You need to identify the resources that will enable you to quickly and efficiently solve the issues raised in the motivation phase. Those resources range from simple Post-it Notes to spreadsheets to dedicated practice management software.

3.  Integration

OK, so you have identified your problems and have found an application that seems like it should solve them. You’re all set, right?

Wrong. You still need the final piece of the puzzle: integration. It’s the process that aligns your capability with your motivation. It is all about operations management with a little bit of leadership sprinkled in. And you should start by making it clear to your team that technology is not a panacea. Making it work takes work. With that in mind, let’s look at the four steps required for a successful integration.

i. Set Expectations for Specific Activities

Spell out who you expect to do what. And to ensure accountability, leadership and individual teams must review the status of key tasks and associated deadlines across all cases with an appropriate frequency.

Each team needs an organized process with defined roles and clear boundaries. Putting this process in place requires the right touch. Your goal is to define limits, not eliminate initiative. Specifically, the process should address:
•   Which tasks should be allocated to attorneys versus paralegals versus assistants
•   Whether team members should work individually or together
•   When attorneys should become involved
•   How to avoid fumbles while managing handoffs

ii. Monitor Input Activity

As we’ve all learned the hard way at some point, just because we think something is being done doesn’t mean it is. Once you have defined the way that you want your team to function, how do you make sure they are actually functioning that way? It’s vital, particularly in the early stages of integration, to verify that everyone understands the system and is following best practices so those practices become ingrained. In particular, pay close attention to whether:
•   Team members are actually logging into and using the system
•   Leadership is actively communicating about the system to employees
•   Training is delivered as scheduled
•   Those who need additional support are seeking it — and getting it

iii. Gather Feedback

As team members become more familiar with the new system, they will probably suggest changes. It is important to view this input as constructive feedback and create a channel for it to be heard. Whether the suggestions involve adjusting your expectations or modifying the configuration of your new technology, it’s important to have a clear, regularly scheduled process for evaluating feedback and incorporating any improvements that result. For example:
•   Once team members are confident in the system’s ability to track deadlines and flag overdue tasks, they may decide to streamline the way they specify individual workflows
•   Team members may also be able to configure workflows in ways that would have been too cumbersome before, such as treating client couples as separate clients or breaking out a specific process for trust administration

iv. Monitor Output Results

Ultimately, a successful integration depends on whether your new capability is addressing the motivations that prompted the technology implementation in the first place. You need honest answers to some basic questions:
•   Are you staying on top of deadlines? Can you measure and track them? Have you missed any? How much stress is associated with the process?
•   Can you track productivity in a way that addresses your objectives? Can you do it easily? Is productivity improving in target areas?
•   In short, is the technical solution meeting expectations? If not, why? Is it missing a key feature or application? Or is it just not user-friendly?

Find a Solution That Will Grow With You

It’s important to recognize that your implementation triangle won’t necessarily be equilateral. We have focused mostly on the integration side here, but the dimensions can shift as you scale your practice. If the driving motivation is to quickly and reliably produce state probate forms, the capability and integration components will be much more limited than if your motivation was to emulate the productivity of a large, multi-office organization.

If you’re thinking of implementing a technology solution to improve the efficiency of your trust and estates oranization but don’t know where or how to begin, please contact us. Helping practices figure it out is what we do.

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