On August 15, the Capital Chapter hosted a webinar by Chris Fritsch, President and Business Development/Technology Consultant at CLIENTSFirst Consulting, LLC. In her presentation, Chris discussed how law firms can get actual return on investments (ROI) from new technology.
Chris explained that the implementation of a new piece of technology in a law firm can often be extremely challenging and, even worse, a failure. But, effective implementation of technology does have the potential to be a key opportunity for a marketing department to build its credibility and profile within the firm. In her presentation, Chris emphasized the following key points for legal marketers to take into account to maximize ROI when implementing new technology:
- While technology is great, it can’t solve all problems. For instance, law firms are often challenged or limited by a lack of investment in professional development, poor succession planning, compensation systems that don’t reward sharing, inflexible fee structures, inefficient cost cutting, etc. In order to generate ROI, firms should focus on fixing these underlying people and process issues first, before implementing technology, or, if they can’t be fixed, firms should at least have a clear understanding of what problems technology can fix.
- Relatedly, determine the expectations from the start. It’s paramount to take an inventory of the firm’s resources and goals at the beginning of the planning process. Ultimately, ROI is not about technology, it’s about helping lawyers and law firms achieve what they want to achieve. Of the three key components needed for the deployment of technology in a law firm—people, process, and technology—it’s usually the people and process that lead to failures. 70% of CRM implementations have failed in the past, and when they did, the people and process were usually to blame. This underscores why it is crucial to determine at the outset the role the new technology will play. To explain technology to non-tech-savvy decision makers, find out what their problems are and explain how technology will correct these problems.
- The IT department can be your friend. The marketing department should make sure to consider whether it makes sense to include their IT department in the process of implementing new technology. IT departments sometimes have larger budgets and know how to negotiate good deals from technology and service providers. Not only can they assist with cost savings from the start, they typically have a better understanding of the law firm’s technology environment, including hardware and software requirements and integration and security issues. Plus, with complex implementations, IT may be the department fielding support calls from law firm employees once the technology has been installed.
- Consider the buyer/seller relationship. Successful implementation of a specific piece of technology begins with a positive buyer/seller relationship in which there is an open dialogue, spirit of teamwork and appreciation of each party’s goals and businesses. To achieve this, buyers should consider negotiating success milestones, paying incrementally as successes are achieved, and paying bonuses for particularly important successes. In addition, buyers might offer to invest in the development of new concepts and to serve as a reference or write a testimonial. For their part, sellers should be sure to learn their clients’ businesses, guarantee satisfaction, provide services after the sale, and consider offering discounts for prompt payments.
- Communicating ROI has to be ongoing. Even after the implementation is over, it is important to regularly convey successes. Explain how the technology has fixed the problems that were stated at the start. Review how technology has impacted ROI numbers such as revenue, profitability, realization, attorney time spent on business development, and success rate on pitches and proposals, as well as other factors such as opportunity costs and untargeted e-mail distribution.
The Capital Chapter would like to thank the webinar sponsor, Copper Services.
By: Jean (Brinker) Katz, Client Relations Manager, Covington & Burling LLP for the July/August 2013 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter