Bob was a brilliant lawyer. He loved technology and was a wizard at math.
Back in the day when we used fax machines and they stood alone somewhere near the photocopier, Bob became enamoured with the idea of software that would allow the assistants to send faxes from their desktop. Bob ran various scenarios to demonstrate how much money we would save if we purchased this product. He calculated the salary and benefits earned by each assistant per minute and multiplied it by the number of minutes each assistant spent walking to and from the fax machine every day. We were going to save a fortune.
As smart as Bob was, he did not understand that the assistants liked to get up from their desk, stretch their legs, walk to the fax machine, and interact with their co-workers on the way. They kept doing that instead of using the fax program. Bob had forgotten that it is all about the people. We saved bupkus.
You may be familiar with the expression. “If You Build It, They Will Come,” which was made famous in the movie “Field of Dreams.”
Sure, that may work if you want to build a baseball stadium in a corn field in Iowa, but my experience with fax software taught me that it is not necessarily true if what you are building (or buying) is a technology solution. In that case, you have to think about the people.
Let’s take, for example, records management and document automation software for a corporate law firm in Napanee. In that case, you have to ask yourself whether the lawyers and staff are going use the software.
As we lawyers are all too fond of saying, “it all depends.” On what, you may ask?
It depends on many things, including whether you are buying the right product from the right vendor, and whether you are asking the right questions.
So, here are just a few of questions, none of which have to do with the records or documents that the software will manage or produce:
- Do you feel pressured by the vendor to make a purchase, or is the vendor taking the time to be sure that your firm is a good candidate to use its product?
- What type of demonstrations, free trials, training, and support will the vendor make available to help you figure out whether the people responsible for doing the work will use the technology?
- Will the Vendor help you develop a plan to make your people comfortable with the change?
- Will customer support answer in minutes, hours, or days?
- Is support easily accessible, possibly through the program itself, perhaps via a chat feature?
Before you buy a fleet of cars for your staff to use to get to that baseball game in the cornfield, you should probably find out if they know how to drive or at least have some interest in learning. Same thing with legal tech. Designate (or hire) someone who knows which questions to ask, and deal with a great vendor.