iManage ConnectLive 2019 was a great success and I heard great feedback from fellow partners and clients alike. The sessions provided much anticipated information on roadmaps and technical innovations. As a project manager, my focus was on the execution side, so I the sessions I attended focused on case studies, planning and implementation. I found a very interesting emphasis on change management. iManage and clients who have moved to the cloud have made great efforts to focus on Change Management. I was very impressed that firm management and technology leaders honed in on the critical need for preparing for user adoption at the start of the project, consistently assessing and pushing forward through the life of the implementation.

We all know that the best approach (and sometimes only approach) with technology projects in the Legal industry need to provide white glove service. Our clients must take the path of least resistance so that the users are given the tool set needed to thoroughly adopt to the new environment and the experience is a smooth transition. Here are some tips that can assist in developing a change management plan that will suit your legal team:

  • Engage all levels in the project. Certainly, you want to involve the Chairman and the C-Level team members, however you should ensure that you also involve mid-level supervisors and the front line.
  • When you have engaged at all tiers, you can understand the culture of the firm.  You need to know how things get done, what are the processes that each group uniquely understands and how will those cultural changes impact the project.
  • Identify your influencers, who are those non-formal leaders that are respected for their knowledge and experience. If you engage them and get their buy in, your project will have cheerleaders who have the most impact and greatest communication audience at their level.
  • You do not want to dictate change from the top, you want to lead by example. If the entire organization sees that all levels are making the change, they will follow.
  • A consistent message from the top will inform users what they can expect and what they need to do to make the change successful.
  • You need to involve these leaders in all phases of the project so that they can assist in making the right decisions and assist in the execution.
  • They will understand how they manage their information today and how it is disseminated to the rest of the matter team. They know where the bodies are hidden and can ensure you have all the information in the discovery and design phases, so that you don’t encounter unexpected bumps in the road later.
  • Communications should occur throughout the project to ensure that users can prepare to adapt to the changes coming their way. There is an inherent process change that will occur. Ensure you understand it and develop a communication plan that will account for these changes and provided a clear message on preparations, what to expect and when to expect it.
  • Training, Training, Training! We all know that asking a billable team member to give up a couple of hours can be a daunting task.  So, get creative, what do they need to know and when do they need to know it? Are your users visual, can they only focus on training for a short period, only send emails and nothing else? Use all the tools at your disposal – video training, lunch and learns, single topic or tip guides, over-train the power user so that they can assist when needed and follow-up training on focused topics after rollout.
  • Follow-up after a period and conduct a gap analysis on the user adoption.  Do you still have users who just couldn’t make the change?  Talk to them and understand why.  The answer may be prevalent that you think! Provide one-on-one assistance to help them navigate the new landscape.

While change comes from the top, the organization needs to feel as though they had a hand in it to embrace that how the adopt to the change impacts the project success.  The days of old, where we pushed through new technology, only provided a short training and let them muddle through are gone. Users today are savvy and understand way more that we think. We need to use their extensive knowledge to help steer the ship in the right direction!