Budgeting for the new year? How do you manage technology change in your law firm?
For well over a decade, technology has been moving at lightening speeds. This fast pace has brought with it even more security challenges to keep IT professionals up at night. Moreover, law firm clients are now asking questions and demanding more secure infrastructure. More than ever before, change is necessary for your firm to manage. Where do you start?
Start at the Top: The need to have buy-in and understanding from everyone will help manage the change – whether it be a new hardware vendor or new IT protocols. However, be prepared to understand the levels of disruption the change may cause to different people and departments, including how policies may affect every day work production and perhaps, even the product.
Be Clear: When creating your message, be clear about all the facts and anticipate the questions others will ask. Users will always have questions and want to probe into the benefits and potential impacts this or that change will have on their workday. Embrace this feedback early in your planning to assist you later in obtaining buy-in. Make sure you have clearly identified reasons the firm needs to change. Document any inefficiencies or problems that have impacted the business or work product necessitating the changes.
Make Your Case: If clients are no longing asking nicely but instead demanding that something be done, that helps. But oftentimes there are minor foundational changes that are needed before making any big changes. This may require some research and explanation. Be prepared to understand what has prevented the change in the past and, if those same barriers exist, how can they be managed.
Make it Inclusive: Make sure you involve every layer of your business in change management and not just the top. Speak with individuals who are touched by the change in question and gain a better understanding of potential improvements and the impact this will make on their job. This is where you can gather the most intelligence about the need to make the change, solidifying your decision to implement the change and influencing the best response.
Be Compassionate: Keep in mind your staff and end users are human! There will be emotional ties to any change – whether it is positive or negative. So be prepared. Make sure that any necessary training required to ease end users’ fears is addressed and planned for. Know your business and the best times to get undivided attention from staff when discussing the change.
Expect the Unexpected: Finally, be prepared and expect the unexpected. Develop and know your contingency plans. Work with your vendor to make sure you fully understand the steps involved in the change. Identify your points of contact during your change. It’s an obvious cliché, but be patient and remain calm. If your plan is well thought out and managed, it will be better situated for execution.
Plan your projects now and start the new year with confidence. A little upfront time and effort put into comprehensive planning will give you the calm that comes with knowing you are prepared to manage the change.
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