In her August LMA luncheon presentation “R.O.I., The Only Technology Acronym that Matters,” Chris Fritsch, J.D., of Clients First Consulting, encouraged the audience to look past fancy features, functions and distracting technology acronyms and start focusing on obtaining technology solutions that will bring value to your firm.
When it comes to buying and implementing legal technology, she acknowledged that there tends to be a fundamental disconnect between buyers and sellers. While buyers want to keep up with their competition and seek the latest and greatest technology, sellers tend to emphasize their great technology tools and focus too much on the bells and whistles. Plus, they often try to sell a solution without really understanding the buyer’s problems. This dichotomy leads to escalating disconnects and complaints.
The bottom line: before deciding on a solution, both parties have to clearly understand the issues or problems the technology is intended to address. From the firm’s perspective, the ultimate testament to a successful solution is likely increased revenue and profits per partner. However, a true solution will generate other benefits, including workplace efficiencies that make getting the job done easier for attorneys and staff.
Chris advises that firms consider the following in order to implement technology solutions that will deliver the best R.O.I.:
- Clearly understand what “value” means for your firm and seek technology solutions that can actually deliver it. You have to understand the numbers that the firm values internally and be able to measure them. Every group will have different needs, and technology must be tailored based on each group’s goals and definition of value. As a marketing or business development professional, ask the right questions to identify these specific needs and values.
- Understand the advantages of technology as well as its limitations. Sometimes firms try to buy technology to address problems that no amount of technology can fix. Chris recommended continual training and development to address the “people and process problems,” because it is only after these problems are fixed that investments in technology should be made. At a lot of firms, there is an institutional mentality that if the lawyers do good work, business will come. When implementing a CRM or other business-development related technology, trust is essential in order for efforts at cross-selling to work.
- Get support and buy-in from management, lawyers and staff. If you don’t have buy-in from the lawyers, technology initiatives will not be successful. Know your audience – in general, lawyers tend to see most things as an emergency or fire drill and are detail-oriented, risk averse and may not share a strategic perspective on marketing initiatives. So, when you are trying to get attorneys excited and engaged with CRM technology, position it in terms of its efficiencies rather than its capabilities. Also, partnering with IS/IT on technology initiatives can help things run smoothly, as most of a firm’s technology staff have “been there, done that.”
When your firm is ready to invest in a solution, Chris asserted the importance of asking the right questions to find out what clients and lawyers really want, what processes can be automated, where the firm can save money, how much revenue could be generated and what advantages could be gained. She also emphasized the need to do a thorough reference check for any potential provider, and not just the pre-vetted references the contact provides.