The high cost of purchasing practice management software along with the additional costs of tailoring software to the firms specifications frequently leads to law firms getting a pretty low bang for their buck. In my experience at Toronto law firms I have noticed that a high percentage of the legal software is underutilized! The most common response to mention of this underutilization is “I do not have the time learn!” The end result is less than optimal software use.
Another frequently overheard comment from users is “I did not know the software could do that!” and so the cycle begins! How can the software be used to its full potential if the knowledge regarding the software is limited or restricted?
So what can be done to improve your firm using the software you already own?
Customized automation is one of the more underutilized feature of any practice management software used in small to midsize firms. What are some of the options for automation?
* Document Automation
Merging info from the practice management into your word processor allows for easier generation of things such as form letters, mailing lists, and even court documents.
* Calendar Automation
Automation of a sequence of calendar events is possible with most practice management software.
This approach to automation is primarily done behind the scenes, in the scripting language of your practice management package database.
Script automation is sometimes the only way to generate custom reports because there may not be a way to retrieve this information using the regular user interface of the software.
So, in short, automation can vastly reduce repetition, thereby reducing the chance of human error and improving workflow.
2. Experiment with the training material
Run free, run wild in the training database with no fear of causing any corruption! Most practice management software comes with either a training or experimental database so you can experiment without putting your own data at risk.
This can be easier than it sounds. Sometimes, it’s as simple as scheduling an event. Many firms have monthly “Lunch and Learn” sessions. These interactive meetings usually feature an external trainer or consultant who meets with the staff, discusses the current work flows and suggests ways that the software might be used more effectively.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Automation, experimentation and commitment can greatly improve the effectiveness of any software in your firm.
ellwood can assist with training, customization, support and the “Lunch and Learns”. Please free to contact us.