It has been quite a year for embracing new ways of remote working and growing technical capabilities in the world of work. Covid-19 has hastened the need for digital services across the professional services sector and according to a recent article in the Financial Times “This has caused a ‘psychological shift that has made sceptics of the value of legal technology more open to the benefits of innovation”.’
However, in the article, Neville Eisenberg, Chief executive of BCLP Cubed, argues the notion that the pandemic has fundamentally transformed the industry’s willingness to engage with advanced legal technologies may be premature. “Individuals like me working from home have become more familiar with the type of tech we use to communicate,” he says. “Does it mean people have adopted a lot of legal tech? I’m not so sure.”’
Historically, many law firms pursued a focus on the technical implementation of new technologies, with a nod to training before go live, but without any plan of how to embed or deepen team adoption over time – which ultimately leads to a lack of realised benefits. In light of this, we wanted to provide our thoughts on how to ensure you have reached true adoption when embedding technical capability in legal.
What do we mean by true adoption? This is all about ensuring your teams:
- understand a new product or service
- know how to use it and
- decide to keep using it because it helps them achieve something.
If any of these elements are missing it is much harder to create and sustain fundamental behavioural change.
The first step to user adoption is persuading your teams of the benefits they can receive from changing your ways of working. It is important to position this from the viewpoint of the specific stakeholder group you are talking to. For example:
- Efficiency savings: “This new system will save you time, and you can access it from anywhere: the office, home or court.” What a great message for all of your busy fee earners who are short on time and working from various locations
- Improved client experience: “New technology can help to enhance our client experience, ensuring we are always responsive, night and day.” Explaining it makes perfect sense to start using live chat features, email marketing technology and AI.
- Increased accuracy through automation: “There is new technology that can help us to reduce the amount of repeatable manual tasks we ask you to complete, meaning you can spend more times on things that add real value.” Thank goodness the arduous task of timesheet entry can be made more effective.
These are only a few of the benefits you can gain from implementing new technology; however, all too often these benefits are articulated from an IT perspective, rather than how it can benefit an individual. Therefore, the communications stop at this first step and do not carry on to communicate how things will change, what individuals will be required to do differently and what support will be made available.
Business readiness activities, comms and engagement throughout your project and the first (and sometimes only) round of training will get you so far, but there will still be work to do to reach true adoption. So, what are the key elements to keep engagement high and embed new behaviours following a system implementation? Here are just a few techniques you can use:
- Benefits reviews: Get the right tools in place to keep you accountable after the system has been implemented. A benefits plan with quarterly reviews should identify key milestones to reaching the benefits you have set out to achieve. This way you can monitor, track and manage each of the benefits over a 6 -12 month period. Remember behavioural change is hard to achieve. It will take time and continued focus.
- Continued training and support channels: Creating an environment where employees can revisit and refresh their knowledge of systems is key. This needs to be available on demand and refreshed regularly to ensure it is current and relevant for teams with different needs. This does not have to be costly and can be in the form of e-learning, recorded videos from previous training sessions and FAQ’s amongst others. It can be useful to setup a small team of user experts as a user community, who are the go-tos and also monitor adoption and issues at a local level.
- Gather data: Make sure you have built in data points to capture adoption statistics. This could include log in numbers, helpdesk tickets, or more manual data capture if this is required. This will help you get an accurate picture of which areas of functionality are being used and then you can do some qualitative analysis to find out why!
- Continued communications with success stories: After your system has gone live, do not let your communications fall by the wayside. Schedule time to feedback your success stories about the implementation. Call out teams who are thriving and real-life examples of worthwhile achievements. A useful tip here is to continue to use the branding you used throughout the project communications, so it creates positive re-enforcement in your teams.
- Schedule time for lessons learned: Feedback sessions six months post implementation to follow up on what your teams felt went well and not so well are an invaluable tool to gauge true adoption. Your teams are more likely to feel like the implementation was worthwhile and not just another tick box exercise if you solicit their feedback and make improvements next time. You can also assess whether there is need for any further training or have intel on areas of the business who struggle particularly to embrace new ways or working.
These are just some of the techniques we advocate after your system has gone live. Implementing technology can provide great benefits for your firm; however, this will only ever be as successful as the levels of adoption of new behaviours and ways of working you achieve. So don’t cut your implementations off at the knees. Ensure you have an embedding phase.