I have written many posts on this blog about effective experience management as a mission-critical, business imperative for a law firm. Without relevant experience to evaluate, buyers of legal services will not hire you.
It's that simple. That's how urgent it is. That's why you should have a mandate around experience collection and organization that starts with your firm chair and executive committee.
At lunch today with Peter Vogel, Internet/information technology partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell and veteran blogger (Internet, Information Technology and e-Discovery Blog), we discussed IT projects and how to avoid failure. The three major reasons we have seen failure in experience management projects are:
- These initiatives are difficult. We work with clients to make them less complicated, often resetting expectations, streamlining workflow and ensuring that the focus is on the most important things (saving time and making more money). Nonetheless, they are challenging. This fact should not be allowed to impede progress, however, or prevent a firm from investing in an experience management program.
- Turnover in the project team. Project leaders and team members make decisions about project structure based on what they believe they need to make the project successful. When those people leave the project or firm, others with different ideas enter the equation. They want to reconfigure things so it meets their needs and expectations. Such changes aren't always bad, but they will cause delays and generally raise project cost. It's important for the first team to document their decisions and rationale for future team members who might inherit the reins. Understanding the reasons for the original choices is a positive step forward, enabling the new team to leverage investments made by the first crew on the project.
- A commitment that wanes. It's no different than a diet, it's hard to keep the same level of commitment on day 30, 60 or 365 that you had on day one. Whatever keeps you motivated and going to the gym (feeling better, fitting into skinny jeans, a doctor that fist-pumps you), do the same with your experience database project - the fact that you will save time and make more money should be a strong motivator. Your job will also be infinitely easier, because business development preparation, RFPs and proposal responses, reporting and tracking, will all be EASY compared to how you manage it today.
Below is a guest blog post by Peter Vogel. He offers excellent advice for marketing technology and IT managers pondering these and other business development/marketing tech implementations. It is based on Infoworld's 2013 report entitled, "11 signs your IT project is doomed."
How to Avoid Doomed IT Projects
Successful IT projects are rarely noticed, only the disasters which can generally be avoided by having detailed contracts that spell out exactly what will happen, and who will do what. Involving a lawyer with IT experience at the earliest point of IT planning (before the RFP is issued) can make sure that all things that can go wrong are spelled out in the contract, so when those things actually go wrong, the parties have already decided what will happen.
If you observe enough IT projects it becomes easier to identify critical signs that an IT project may be doomed. Infoworld’s 2013 report entitled “11 signs your IT project is doomed” is a pretty good outline of what to watch out for:
Red flag No. 1: The project has launched without senior buy-in
Red flag No. 2: No detailed project plan exists
Red flag No. 3: Meetings have been scheduled without concern for team member availability
Red flag No. 4: Users have had little (to no) early involvement
Red flag No. 5: The project targets the minimum specs
Red flag No. 6: Testing is an afterthought
Red flag No. 7: No recovery plan is in place in the event of failure
Red flag No. 8: Expert recommendations have been rebuffed without testing outcomes
Red flag No. 9: The go-live date is a weekend or holiday
Red flag No. 10: Expectations have not been set
Red flag No. 11: Skimp on training
When lawsuits and trials occur because of failed IT projects, no one is ever happy with the outcome. Of course the cost of a failed IT project is always more than a successful IT project.