It is no surprise that the Cloud Industry Forum, which exists to “champion and advocate the adoption and use of on-line (cloud based) services by businesses and individuals” has just published research findings confirming that these areas – communication with users and managing their expectations – require more attention than they currently get.
It is a discussion we often have with clients, service providers and between ourselves at Inpractice when a legal practice is considering a move to secure cloud or hosted technology. We find that clients are inclined not to be persistent enough in helping people to engage on the project during preparations for the transition to working in a different IT environment.
The main hurdle we have to overcome to make this happen is about releasing the expensive fee earner (and support staff) time to listen and engage when they otherwise see fee earning work as more of a priority! Structured effectively, managing this effectively to ensure a smooth transition that keeps people working after the transition is easily justified.
According to report, firms are “finding the migration to cloud computing is not as straightforward as they first thought it would be.” IT staff, partners and senior managers often don’t appreciate the complexity around moving to externally hosted services; and service providers often expect that the firm will handle aspects of the project internally – this is not always clear.
We find that hosting companies that have already dealt with law firms fare better because they have a better understanding of the challenges within law firms. However, law firms often under-estimate the effort that is appropriate. Investment of time here should, in any event, be a catalyst to further improve the performance of people and the business going forwards.
Users of a new hosted system want it to provide exactly the same familiar functionality of their old system, usable in the same way on day 1. If not, as is generally the case because you are trying to introduce improvements, they need to know what is different and how to use it.
Otherwise users will understandably but frustratingly, quickly conclude that “nothing works” or that ” this is all rubbish” with that negativity quickly spreading to others and providing ammunition for those employees that are resistant to change. However with effective planning, investigation, lots of cross checking and then effective internal engagement and communication in advance, most of this can be avoided.
Niggles are inevitable. The issues that arise can be very simple, but taken for granted; for example, it would be surprising if users do not understand that on day 1 of the move to a hosted system that they will have a somewhat different desktop. The extent of that difference will depend on your supplier and the solution you have agreed with them. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to find any “recent documents”; shortcuts and auto population of email addresses may have gone or changed, and they could lose their internet favourites unless they are copied across. How does printing work and what’s the best way to get support if there is a problem? How is this communicated?
Changes in functionality could be more fundamental or complex. For example, related to use of digital dictation, or the challenges caused by a new version of Microsoft Office, where people want the old familiar look and feel. How will printing work now? These are all aspects (and there are many more) that will contribute to either the success or failure of your project.
We can help you anticipate and prepare your people to ensure a smooth transition, having learned from our experience in managing these moves over the last 5 or 6 years.
If you are considering a move to the Cloud or a hosted environment, speak to Frank Manning to find out about some of the pitfalls and to discuss how you can prepare your business to avoid them.
Contact Frank on 0161 929 8355 or at email@example.com
Read a short review of the research findings here.