Which features are critical in practice management software?

Mar, 2021   ·   5 min read

Are you the type of person that has to have the latest features? Are you driven to buy the latest car, electronics, or appliances just because it has the state-of-the-art "must have" features? This behavior in your personal life may not be bad if you can afford leading edge products, but in business this can have a big impact on your law firm's performance.

How can a new feature or capability be a bad thing? There are numerous ways that this can have a negative effect.

  • If the feature is not designed as part of an integrated process
  • If it is difficult to manage, support and use
  • If it duplicates many of the capabilities of an existing feature
  • If it increases your costs without offsetting benefits (customer satisfaction or operational efficiencies)

So how should you analyze the value of a new feature or capability before investing your time or money on it.

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First understand if the feature will improve top line management of the law firm, enhance bottom line performance, or reduce risk / aid in compliance.

Top Line performance
  • Will it improve client satisfaction?
  • Will it drive new business?
  • Will it help me retain existing business?
Bottom Line performance
  • Is it easy to use? Or require training?
  • Does it require major changes to my processes?
  • Does it reduce workload or create new work?
  • Will it replace existing functionality?
  • Is it a new mandatory feature?
  • Is it costly? Are there hidden costs?
Risk and Compliance
  • Does it improve information security?
  • Does it impact your ability to maintain client and law firms privacy?
  • Does it enable improved compliance?

Second, if the new feature makes sense to implement then make sure it is done thoughtfully.

  • Make sure you understand how it will be used and communicate the change?
  • If training is required, do it in advance and make sure everyone from attorneys to assistants knows how to use it
  • Define its "rules of the road" meaning know when to use it and when not to.
  • Perform a test drive so that you know how it works as compared to how you think it works

New features and advancements in technology can be very beneficial to the success of a law firm. But not all advancements deliver the expected benefits (e.g., Microsoft Bob and Clippy, Google Glass, or Apple Newton). Before making the investment in time and or money do some analysis and make sure you have realistic expectations.

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