The current issue of Law Office Computing (Aug/Sep) asks “what is the big challenge when implementing new technology in a large firm?” My answer, appearing in the Asked and Answered column> is below. 

Until recently, making new technology work properly and efficiently was difficult. Today, the bigger challenge revolves around two aspects of change management: new features or new work habits.

Learning new features, typically from software upgrades, is fairly easy. The changes are usually incremental, so a memo, e-mail notice, or laminated “tips and tricks” sheet, along with optional training, suffice to make the transition. Users might grumble and some might stumble, but they no longer resist the inevitable and necessary upgrades.

No single formula insures success in changing work habits. Elements of effective programs include strong leadership from firm or practice-group management, measuring conformance, and providing feedback. Positive feedback includes formal evaluations or simple incentives such as a Starbucks cash card for good performance. Other feedback can include mild public opprobrium (e.g., e-mail from the senior partner saying “I can’t believe you sent a message asking this before checking the firm’s knowledge management system”) and negative performance evaluations.