Does your law practice struggle with making change? Do you fear even broaching the topic with the firm’s management?
There are easy ways to deal with making changes in your law practice. First you need to identify what it takes to manage the change process. There are numerous articles, postings and documents on the web that share information about managing change. The following are some of the top items that we recommend thinking about before your jump into changing things in your firm.
1. Understand what change management entails. You need to understand what change management is all about. Who do you involve? How do you create your message or state your case? How do you create ownership to make it personal? What affects is this going to have on the human aspect of your law practice?
2. Include input from all levels. Involve every layer in the process from the top down. Evaluate, question and educate yourself on problems, issues, ideas. After all you are looking to make your change all about efficiencies. If you can paint the picture with all involved, including the stakeholders, you are building your case of ownership and buy-in to the change. Make sure you paint a clear picture on all costs involved and how that can show a return on your investment. Many firms struggle here and wait to find out costs after they have selected a vendor.
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3. View change from many vantage points. When building your case, make sure you look at not only what’s broke, but what is also working. You don’t want to break something that is working well with your change. You need to understand every aspect of your change. Your goal is to make improvements, but you want to be careful not to go in a direction that is going to cost you some major changes in things that may be working well. Make sure you look outside the firm walls; know what is happening with your client requests. Are you able to meet their requirements and demands or are you having to say no because you lack the ability to meet their needs. This can cause you to make changes in other areas (like reduce rates) because you don’t have the means to meet your client requirements.
4. Put requirements in writing. Make sure you have all of your needs, requirements, ideas (yes document ideas and the dreams) when you go to make a selection of your new product or service that you require. This way you can engage in a true discovery with vendors as part of your selection process and feel confident that you know what problems you need to solve and what requirements are met. This will help your process go much smoother, and also helps you to understand the time requirements you need to plan for in going through this change.
5. Get to know the vendor before buying. Finally, make sure you talk to peers, use social media, go on boards and blogs and learn about the vendors you are seeking out. Know their leadership and longevity in the industry; understand their process of partnering with you. After all, you will be partners most likely for a long period of time, so you need to thoroughly understand how your relationship will work not only during the change, but after. What further benefits can your new business partner provide you beyond the initial change?
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What steps would you add? What other considerations should law firms factor into change management decisions around technology? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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