Legal organizations spend an estimated $3 billion dollars on technology according to a recent study by Mitretech Catching the Wave: :Legal Technology Spend at $3 Billion and growing. Driving product adoption remains a challenge across law firms of every size.
Clients demand that law firms focus on knowledge management, analytics and legal project management and there is a burgeoning market of new products to address these needs. An email blast or an offer a free Danish and bagels no longer motivates lawyers to leave their offices and sit through a demo. Product deployment alone does not assure adoption and a return on investment. In order to optimize the adoption of products there are multiple strategies which can be used to drive the adoption and aid in the determination of ROI.
Eliminating the Obstacles to Adoption This step is often overlooked. It is important to recognize at the outset that policies and the technology itself can create obstacles to adoption. Obstacles to adoption include: imposing client charges of use; having a complex and unpredictable billing system for the use of products, requiring passwords; a complex installation and hiding the resource “somewhere on the network.
Online research is often identified with cost recovery and unpredictable charges for clients. Anxiety over charges has become an obstacle to the primary objective of owning resources — which is, getting the answer for the client using the best resource. For firms that continue to charge clients the best way to encourage appropriate use Is to have transparent fee structures so that an associate knows the cost of each search and can easily calculate a possible cost of a session. Giving associates some sense of control over the costs will make them more comfortable using online research systems.
Eliminate passwords whenever possible If a lawyer doesn’t know their password, they cannot make use of a product. Password management in a large firm is an administrative headache. Firms could achieve a win-win through the use of IP recognition and a carefully scoped license to allow one click access to the lawyers who need the product.
Saving Passwords If individual passwords are required because of licensing restrictions or the vendors policies, you can make it easy for lawyers to save their passwords in a secure desktop tool such as Research Monitor, Onelog or Lookup Precision. These tools reduce frustration, assure access.
Understand the User Experience. Don’t wait for lawyers to ask. If the product is worth buying make sure that users have a complete installation before they are locked in a crisis and need emergency access. Some products may require a software installation and or a password setup before a lawyer gets access. It is important to map out the user experience and understand how to deploy the product in advance. Identify the pain points which could result in a lawyer abandoning the installation midway through the process. Provide concierge – desktop assistance to assure that the deployment is complete and provide a quick overview of how to use the product.
Bring the Product to the Lawyer Don’t Make the Lawyer Find the Product- Provide Multiple Access Points. One size does not fit all lawyer workflows. Ultimately the best way to get lawyers to use a product is to bring the product to the places they visit on the network e.g.. Practice group page, a client page, a research page or a custom workflow page where all the relevant resources for a task are aggregated.
Enhancement Techniques When It comes to lawyer training and adoption one size definitely does not fit all. Therefore it is imperative that law librarians, IT, marketing and professional development staff employ of variety of techniques, formats, technologies and approaches to drive technology into each lawyer’s practice. Since lawyers are no longer enticed by the prospect of bagels or even a full lunch –one of the most important techniques is to bring the training or the resources to them where they sit, where they gather, or into the workflow where they practice. Here are some techniques which drive technology and resource adoption.
Roving trainers and researchers. Periodically announce that training staff will roam the halls and be available to provide a brief introduction to new tools or to troubleshoot existing tools.
Concierge rollouts Anytime a rollout involves a special set up or customization or password, assigning staff to visit each lawyers office to complete the installation and provide a quick overview may be the only way to assure that the product gets to the lawyers who will benefit. One example might be a resource that tracks a particular partners clients, deals or litigation. An interactive session asking the partner to identify their top five clients and customize the resource for the lawyer can drive partner adoption.
CLE boot camps. A new generation a products offers completely new types of insights and outputs and may require a boot camp hands-on session. Since most lawyers have a CLE requirement it is possible to achieve a win-win by creating a training program for an important resource and offering needed CLE credit. This kind of training is appropriate for complex products such as analytics, due diligence review and ediscovery.
Use in-house newsletters to promote resources. In-house newsletter editors are always in need valuable content. New products or new features in existing products can be highlighted in a brief summary in in-house newsletters. Such features can trigger requests for access and training.
The practice group lunch. One tried and true technique is to make an appearance were lawyers gather. Ask Practice Group Leaders for a few minutes to introduce lawyers to important new resources. Provide a hand out so they have something to block back to their offices.
Publish a training calendar. While not everyone responds to training calendars. It can still be useful to promote the availability of webinars which are targeted to individual practice groups.
Promote the solution not the product. Unfortunately many product names do not describe what a product does. Your chance of getting a lawyer’s attention improves when you explain that a product solves a specific problem.
E.g. “Learn techniques for conducting a corporate investigation” will get more traction than “Learn about Practical Law.”
Promote innovation. Algorithms, analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and jurimetrics have created solutions that “baby boomer” partners could not have imagined. It is helpful to create annual or quarterly guides to resources which deliver new kinds of answers or new kinds of workflows using advanced technologies. This also assures partners that the firm is investing in the newest technologies.
Promote products on your departmental webpage. Have a rotating promotion that targets products of interest to a wide audience.
“Just In Time Skype” Training. Use Skype or similar services to provide “just in time training”. These technologies enable a trainer to take control of the lawyers desktop and show them how to solve particular problems or use a particular resource.
Year in review Over the course of a year there could be many changes in the features offered by products. The firm may rotate out underutilized resources and introduce a new resource. An annual recap of new resources is an important reminder for attorneys to learn about resources- especially if they missed the initial kick-off announcement.
Quick links. Lawyers don’t need to be trained on every single product. Usage can be driven by creating simple IP authenticated links that will give lawyers direct access to a specific document or piece of information they need. Examples of quick links include, “pull an SEC document” or “find a judges bio.” These links pull answers from the appropriate resources but the lawyers don’t even need to know what resource — they just need to know how to click the link.
Gamification Use gaming techniques and create teams of lawyers to “compete” in using new resources to answer questions or create documents.
Find an evangelist A senior lawyer with influence in a practice group can be an invaluable ally in promoting the value of new resources to a practice group.
Hold a tech fair or set up a booth at a firm retreat Periodically hold an event to show off valuable new products or new features in existing products.
Adoption By Proxy Sometimes the best way to get a lawyer interested in a product is to deliver unexpected results. The research team can be product evangelists by delivering reports which lawyers didn’t know they could ask for. E.g. when a lawyer asks for a judges bio – train the researchers to deliver an overview of a judges analytics. The “wow” factor will often get lawyers attention better than an email promotion.
Follow up and ROI
There are tools which can monitor and report on product adoption. Research Monitor, Onelog and Lookup Precision mentioned above which save lawyers’ passwords serve “double duty” in tracking the trajectory of adoption. Set up automatic reports on new products so you can continually assess the volume of use. Is use growing? Do you need to encourage use in specific offices? Understand why a product is not be adopted and use appropriate outreach to find out why. Track return users – if lawyers use a product once and don’t return, conduct formal or informal surveys to get feedback. Are their problems with the product or is there user error?
The bottom line is that product adoption does not end with the announcement email or even the product installation. It is an ongoing process which requires recurring outreach, usage analysis and reassessment. Cancellation should be considered if the product never delivers the expected growth in usage and ultimately a return on investment which justifies renewal.
This article originally appeared in Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute newsletter.