So you have a new time capture system, and you’re excited about all the benefits it offers to the firm. You’ve been talking it up, mentioning business efficiency, productivity, increased revenue and the like.
Snore, say your timekeepers. And even worse than their uninspired reaction is their reluctance to learn how to use it. What’s gone wrong in this scenario? And what can you do to gain (the absolutely essential) buy-in from your staff?
The simple answer is this: You must lead your “pitch” with WIIFM (What’s in it for me?), from the perspective of your timekeepers.
Feel Their Pain
Attorneys are busy people, and the only thing more painful than keeping their time is spending time learning something that has no perceived benefit. However, if you can begin by convincing your timekeepers that the time spent learning a new system will drastically cut hours of pain out of their daily lives, you can bet enthusiasm will shoot way up.
They need to know that time capture will:
- Save time preparing timesheets
- Find time that would have otherwise been forgotten
- Minimize general timekeeping angst
With this information—the answers to WIIFM—reluctance disappears.
No Substitute for Experience
Once your timekeepers are sold on the idea of adopting time capture, the next question becomes how to begin.
Talk is cheap and usually unconvincing, so the surest route to real adoption is allowing your timekeepers to experience the benefits of time capture at literally no cost to them—no training, no learning curve, no effort, no disruption.
With a time capture system, you can begin by sending out daily journal reports via email. This way the information captured is simply made available—additive, not disruptive—and a user can use it or ignore it. Making use of the information becomes completely voluntary.
Management’s Role Still Important
Of course, management still has a responsibility to roll out a new system smoothly and efficiently, or risk losing attention and enthusiasm to problems unrelated to the product itself.
We recommend that to manage the deployment well, it should be broken down into small pieces. This way, you can achieve “early wins” to build project momentum.
Besides the project team, you will want to recruit early adopters and “change zealots” to help you with the deployment. Early adopters are users who embrace new technology before most other people do. Work with this group to vet that the time capture report is accurate.
Once you’ve got the time capture engine working, expand the pilot group to include change zealots who can be trusted to spread the news of time capture’s benefits. Keep in mind that some of these individuals don’t need to be tech savvy and may even be your most problematic timekeepers.
Once everything is locked down and working for your pilot groups, it’s time to expand the deployment to all your users. Start with automated reporting at first. Keep the lines of communication with your users open. Inform them about time capture and how you think it will benefit them. Allow them the freedom to opt-out from the reports, and be sure to answer any questions they bring up.
Once everybody is getting reports, offer voluntary lunch and learn sessions to demonstrate the online features of the system. Typically when such a plan is followed, we see a system adoption rate of somewhere around 75-80% within 4-6 weeks.
Ultimately, change can happen in one of two ways. You can try to command it, forcing staff to see things your way, discussing benefits and adoption from a position of authority.
Or, you can let it emerge naturally, with timekeepers answering the WIIFM question on their own, interacting with the system voluntarily, and adopting it from a position of self-improvement and empowerment.
The choice is up to you. From our experience, however, it’s pretty obvious which one achieves real change and lasting success.