Revamping your workflow with tech solutions

New tech products should address ‘pain points’ in office processes, writes Kevin Cheung

Kevin Cheung

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many law firms to increase their reliance on technology to facilitate remote work and uninterrupted client services. For some, this was seamless. For others, it was an uphill battle and a scramble to adopt tech tools on the fly. For all, the restrictions on how we work have revealed problem areas in how we practise.

The adoption of videoconferencing as an acceptable way to maintain client and team communication is a great example of how we have replaced a part of our workflow with a technological solution, and the knowledge gained from these workarounds should not be lost when we return to a “new normal.”

The follow are some suggestions for adopting new technological tools into your workflow.

Understand your workflow 

Before adopting new technology you should review and be familiar with your office processes throughout a file. You want to have a clear understanding of how an existing process could be replaced by a new tool. Once you have a sense of the entire workflow for each type of file, you will be prepared to assess what tech products can replace inefficient parts of the workflow.

Identify pain points

After the workflow has been mapped out, you can identify points in that process that are inefficient, frustrating, or prone to mistakes, focussing on the most egregious ones; this makes it more likely that you will see substantial benefits when adopting new technology. Focusing on the most significant benefits will also create momentum amongst you and your staff to want to replace existing processes with more efficient ones.

In a litigation practice, one pain point might be the creation of trial binders. This is often a time-consuming task, requiring hours of photocopying, organizing and labelling. Technology can ease this by allowing you to create binders electronically.

For all practices, billing can be a sore spot. Some clients may be resistant to paying because of the inconvenience of doing so. This is further exacerbated by the recent trend towards contactless payment options such as credit cards and online payments, due to health and safety concerns.

Being forced to work remotely during the pandemic may have shed light on how difficult and tedious it is to lug files from office to home and back. Furthermore, we might not have room at the office or at home for all the boxes and binders that we accumulate. The inability to efficiently access, transport and sort documents is a common pain point for firms.

Are you underutilizing your existing technology?

We are all guilty of underutilizing our tech products. Before running out and researching new tools, look to see whether your existing products can be used to replace inefficient processes. While it may require some time to learn about the capabilities of the tools that you have, it can save money in the long run by avoiding paying for a new services. And the fewer services you rely on, the less chance you have of overwhelming and frustrating yourself and your staff with learning new processes.

Assess technology candidates by how they address your pain points 

There are so many tech products out there, and many of them seem to overlap with one another. Knowing what pain points you want addressed will help you cut through the clutter and sales pitches, and focus on exactly what you need. Measure products against each other by how effectively they address your pain points. 

Incorporate only a few new tech items at a time 

New technology all looks great, and we want it all. But we risk getting too much, resulting in overwhelming ourselves and our staff. This can lead to resistance to adopting the technology you are trying to introduce into your system.

Limit the number of new solutions that you incorporate into your workflow. Give yourself and your staff time to become familiar with what you have before tackling other workflow problems.

Tech tools exist to help you solve workflow problems and work more efficiently. Resist the temptation to adopt tools just because they are there or somebody else uses them. Strongly consider your processes and how a particular tool might address a problem in that process. Only once you are confident that a tech tool can solve your problem should you incorporate it into your practice.

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