Are you considering a Digital Transformation (or strategic IT) Project?
Is this right for you?
Back in 2016 I was spending my time helping law firms with Paper-Lite and Digital workflow projects. As someone who previously was in the Managed Print Sector, this was something fairly new, well at least in terms of delivering successful projects for law firms. I have always been focussed on trying to understand what clients are looking to achieve and then identifying how I can add value and be of service, to help them with their quest.
Lots of law firms at the time felt they should reduce their reliance on Print and Paper, but few were successfully implementing Paper-Lite and Digital Workflow projects.
Well, there was a fear around the interruption these projects cause to the business, the people who would resist any change, the time and resource required to make it work and memories of the last time they followed supplier promises, only to realise things were not quite as straight forward as they were made to believe.
Law firms (and other professional services businesses) are more complex than a traditional business. They are made up of multiple businesses (areas of practice) who may appear work in similar ways at a strategic level (find clients who have a problem, require our expertise, who we can charge a professional services rate to help them), but the reality of how these different departments work on a day-to-day basis is very different. Firms know this, but there is always a nervousness when a supplier advises how straight forwards things may be as the Managing Partner and Senior Management Team know full well that the reality of things will be very different. Not just in terms of the supplier really understanding what is involved, but this is before you even consider trying to make good change happen in a Professional Services business!
Why is this relevant to helping law firms with Digital Transformation or Strategic IT Projects?
Well, once I had delivered 5 Digital Transformation projects successfully, I started toying with the idea of merging my existing Print and Digital Workflow business in with someone I knew in the sector and going Freelance as an IT Projects Director to help law firms successfully deliver IT Projects and change management.
Following some initial conversations this was immediately met with great gusto from everyone I knew in the industry (other suppliers to the sector)!
Some positive: “lots of law firms have challenges with IT and Technology Projects”… “You will be run off your feet”… “How will you deal with capacity issues”…
Some a little more reserved: “What will you do about recurring revenue”… “How are you going to scale the business”…
I tended to listen a little too much to the former and ignore the latter.
I’ll launch first and then consider the challenges my business is facing, once I am busy with helping law firms achieve theirs. Which in hindsight, was the right choice.
Why is all this relevant to helping law firms with Digital Transformation and IT projects?
Well, all the concerns law firms (and other Professional Services business) have around Digital Transformation projects are true. They always were and the concerns are still very much the same. Making good change happen in a law firm is not easy. Concerns over putting the right solution in place is real and managing suppliers to ensure the right outcome is essential. They have their goals and you have yours.
So how can law firms make Digital Transformation and Strategic IT Projects a success?
Well, I can only comment on the projects I have delivered but the key elements which are constant are that I have ensured that each project is a success and believe it requires:
- Appointing someone to lead the project who has the skills and expertise necessary to successfully deliver IT Projects
- Someone who is not involved in the day-to-day running of the firm or responsible for a billable hours target
- Someone who can act in the best interest of the law firms and be an extension of their senior management team. Investing the time and energy required, to ensure the right outcomes take place
- Someone who can input the time required without slowing down the firm.
- Who can liaise with our people at all levels to understand what they need?
- Whilst also liaising with suppliers to translate and ensure that the right solutions are deployed, the ones which make the desired changes happen
- Someone who will stick around and make sure the right implementation and training takes place
So if the skills are available to help law firms with Digital Transformation, why is this still a problem for law firms?
Well, there are a few key considerations here:
- Can they afford to bring in the external expertise required to get this right? This is a valid point. Yes, there are lots of law firms who would like to improve their position with IT and Technology, but the timing has to be right for the firm financially.
- They are confident these changes need to take place and the majority of the equity partners are on board.
- Who is going to take ownership of the project, lead this on behalf of the firm and make sure this is a success
- They may want to change but do they need to. Do they see this as essential to the future of the firm?
- Do they need to transform. Do they need to better utilise IT and Technology to attract and retain the right people?
- Do their clients need them to transform? Do they need to successfully deliver an IT or Technology project to stand out in from of their current (and potential future) clients?
If they cannot answer yes to 4 or more of the items above, then the timing isn’t right or the need is not strong enough.
How does this help law firms with Digital Transformation projects?
There will always be articles in the press, in the media about what is taking place at the top. The new legal tech and how there is pressure for them to better utilise IT and Technology.
This may be true, but what I have realised is that I need to spend my time identifying firms who not only want to change, but need to change.
If you want to change, consider the points above.
If you need to change then I can help.
Why am I posting this? Because I have come to realise that
“Traction comes from accompanying the customers you’ve chosen on a journey they’re eager to go on” – Seth Godin
It’s not about making lots of noise about what I do and how I can help firms. It’s about trying to find the firms who want to go on the same journey and want someone with them to make sure this is a success.
Is this you?
If so, I would be happy to arrange an initial call to find out more about your current position, challenges and desired future state.
I am more than happy to talk about how I help law firms, fees involved and different entry level or fixed fee packages, but the best starting point is to find out more about your challenges, offer some initial advice and see how I can help.
Schedule a phone appointment (no charge, or obligation)
Author: My name is Alex Hutchinson. I am a Freelance I Projects Director who works with leaders of forward thinking law firms who want to make good change happen, when it comes to IT and Technology. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
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