I recently read an awesome article titled, “Choosing Software for Your Business: A Buyer’s Guide.” It was chock-full of very helpful tips, but I felt like one very important tip was missing. So, without further ado, allow me to summarize the article and add my two cents.
Sarah Clinton, Customer Support Manager at LearnUpon wrote:
As our business grows, there’s always a team or two trying to find new software. Whether it’s to replace a system we’ve outgrown or discover a new solution to streamline an ineffective process. But, the hunt isn’t always as easy as we’d like. Where do you begin, who’s involved, and how can you be confident in your search?
After a few years, a few missteps, and a lot of trials, we’ve thankfully honed our search process to find the best software here at LearnUpon. As we worked on our own internal process it got us thinking. Every day we talk to organizations who are in the exact same situation. Teams trying to find business software (in their case an LMS) that optimizes their processes. So, to aid you in successfully finding the best software for your business, we’ve recorded our internal process and are sharing it today. It can be used for most, if not all, the software you need – LMSs, CRMs, support tools, and more.
Sarah went on to list the following steps. (Click here to read her in-depth discussion of these tips. You’ll be glad you did.)
- Organize your stakeholders: This may include your immediate team, team managers, security team, tech team and even your customers.
- Identify your software needs: If you currently have a system and are looking to upgrade (for example, if you have a document management system but don’t like it and want to find a new one), you already know features and interfaces that you want to improve. If you’re searching for a whole new software system, you need to start with the goals you’re trying to achieve. (For example: if you want to automate your training program). Create a spreadsheet with your goals so the entire team understands what they are looking for.
- Search for a vendor: From Google searches to comparison websites like “Software Advice,” there are as many ways to hunt for a software vendor as there are vendors. My personal first step is to reach out to colleagues at other law firms to get their impressions of the systems they use. Nothing holds more weight to me than a colleague I respect telling me that they love (or hate) the system they use. I always add their comments to my search spreadsheet.
- Kick the tires: Ask for demos galore! Put these vendors through their paces! You will learn as much about the software as you will about the kind of customer service you can expect from the company. If they ever seem tired of your questions, turn around and run the other direction. (If they think you have a lot of questions NOW, wait until they have to respond to all of your installation questions!)
- Vendor evaluation: When you have your list of top vendors, ask for free trials. Stagger the trials and make sure your team is prepared to look for the features they need. You want to compare apples to apples, but also note the stand-outs. There should be a standardized way to collect feedback from every member of the team.
- Select the vendor: Present your selection to leadership with all of your reasons why it’s the right pick for your law firm.
And Here is My Addition to This Fantastic List
If you truly want your rollout to be successful and your long-term ROI to be worth it, you need to add training to this list!
- Rollout/Upgrade Training: The most effective way to rollout a new or upgraded software platform is to include training as an integral part of the process. As too many law firms have discovered, simply launching a system does not guarantee people will use it. And without training on the specific protocols you expect people to follow, you CAN guarantee that everyone will use it differently. Within a year, it won’t even function as the system you installed.
- Follow-Up Training: Once the system is launched and you’ve trained everyone to use it the way you expect, it’s a good idea to plan some follow-up training a few weeks or months later. People who use the system will undoubtedly have questions about how to complete certain tasks and power users will be seeking short-cuts. More importantly, some people will forget their training (they’re human, after all) and will make up their own processes or revert to their old ways. Follow-up training helps to keep everyone on track in the first year after rollout.
- Ongoing Training: Every time someone quits, you lose institutional knowledge. Every time you hire a new person, you bring in someone with their own processes. Ongoing training will assure that your investment in the software system continues to grow rather than dropping every time you lose or gain an employee.
Selecting the right software system for your law firm is a huge task! Make sure that your investment in time and money doesn’t go to waste: include training as part of your long-term commitment to this fancy piece of software that holds so much potential to help your firm move forward.