One way you can improve efficiency at your practice is by adopting clever software tools to manage and automate tasks. One of the most common tools law firms use is a CRM which manages your interactions with your clients.

But no matter what tools you’re using, there always comes the dreaded day when you need to update your software. And that thought is enough to make even the most patient and tech-savvy managers sweat. Because as great as it is using more competent and powerful software, deciding on and instating it takes time.

It’s such a big task that some software developers and platforms, like Litify (as discussed by Terry Dohrman on the Rankings Podcast) will even help your firm migrate from your old platform to your new one. However, most of the time you’ll be on your own, which is why we’ve created this guide to switching software.

Deciding On New Software

If you want to adopt a new piece of software, you first need to ensure that it’s the right move. Migrating to a new platform can be costly and time-consuming, so ask yourself some important questions first.

Where is my current platform failing?

Work out what the vital gaps in functionality are that you feel are missing. Also, Speak to your staff and find out whether they feel the same way too. If it turns out that the functions you’re missing aren’t that important for you or others, you don’t want to go through the expensive task of rolling out a new system.

Could your existing platform address your issues with an update?

Almost all of the big management tools release updates, patches, and new versions of their software. So it’s worth finding out what functionality you’re missing and seeing whether your current platform can address it. The answer to your problems might be as simple as licensing an add-on for some extra functions or even upgrading to a new version. Either option would be much easier on your team than switching platforms completely.

Would the new software address these issues?

Basically, do you really need this new software? It can be very tempting to get the newest and shiniest toys, but if a new system doesn’t solve your problems then you’ll end up wasting valuable resources. Compare your existing platform to the one you’re considering and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of both.

And when you’ve considered all these points, go and get your team’s opinions too. After all, it’ll very likely affect everyone in your practice, not just you. And there’s a good chance that they’ll bring up points about the software that you won’t have considered.

Shop Around

Once you’ve decided that you do indeed need a new system or platform, start browsing! There is a seemingly endless supply of CRMs and case management tools out there, so this might take some time. But don’t just read about products on the website – check out YouTube reviews, watch and read tutorials, speak to other firms, and arrange demos with salespeople. Of course, they’re going to give you the sales pitch, but it’ll give you ample opportunity to ask important questions.

Some of which might include:

  • How long will it take to roll the platform out at your firm?
  • How does it handle the things that my current platform does or doesn’t handle?
  • What is ongoing support like?
  • How long will it take to migrate the existing data from my old system to the new one?
  • Will this platform communicate easily with my other systems?

So go in prepared with questions and even get your team to contribute theirs too. You could even establish a decision team to help you make the choice.

Educate Your Team

You now need to start bringing your staff up to speed. But you can’t just throw them in a training session and be done with it. There are a few steps you need to consider to prepare them.

Explain The Need For Change

Before you start handing out the quick start guides you need to give out some more info. Start by explaining to your staff that you’ll be adopting a new system and then explain why. People are usually reluctant to change, so explain why the new tool is an improvement over the old one. Get them to understand your motivation so they can get on-board with the training they’ll have to undertake.

Set Some Targets

Once you’ve explained how the system will make their lives much easier, set out some milestones over the coming weeks. Inform them of the key dates such as training days and handover dates from old systems to new ones. Make sure that they know when changes are happening and set out your expectations so they can start to prepare.

Train Your Leaders

Now that everyone knows when the changes are coming, you’ll need to assemble your training team to help get everyone else up to speed. Any software you roll out will come with training guides, but some will also offer training in person or online. Make sure you take advantage of these.

And don’t put the burden all on yourself, do some effective delegation and assemble a small team to manage the training. You could divide responsibilities by getting representatives from different departments to learn the areas of the new platform that have direct relevance to their function in the firm. This means you’ll put less strain on them to learn everything and instead develop experts in key areas of the new software.

Training And Support

Now your head trainers can actually start teaching people the ropes. But as with any training, try to make it interesting. Learning the ins and outs of a program isn’t always the most exciting process. So incentivize learning where you can and possibly use some gamification to make it more interesting. And try to make the training practical. A lot of people learn by doing so try to do lots of walkthroughs on the new system with everyone following along on their own computer.

Once your training sessions have concluded, don’t just assume that everyone is now a savant and knows the system inside out. Make sure you give them the resources they need to troubleshoot issues, but also make sure that your trainers can set aside time to help people that might need a little extra support.

Roll Out The New Software

Now that everyone knows how to use the new software, it’s time to start using it and reap those efficiency rewards! But the hard work isn’t quite over yet. You need to make sure that the transition to this new platform sticks. So continue to lead by example and ensure that you and your managers use the new platform. Because if your staff see any of their leaders going back to the familiarity of the old system, they will too.

The transition to the new software might also be gradual, migrating tasks over one at a time. But be sure to give everyone fair warning as to when the old systems will be phased out completely. The last thing you want is thousands of case files being deleted all because you didn’t specify when you were pulling the plug on your old platform. This also means setting reasonable deadlines for the event too. Give everyone extra time to move over whatever data they have to, and then add a little extra time as they’ll still be new to the process.

Finally, track your efficiencies! The whole reason you adopted this new platform was to improve your functionality as a law firm. So monitor all your valuable KPIs like intake and conversions and assess the effectiveness of the move. And, hopefully, celebrate some efficiency wins.