“Don’t Just Implement. Adopt!” panelists from Perkins Coie LLP, Shearman & Sterling LLP, and Kaye Scholer LLP gathered at ILTACON to discuss the pain of software that wasn’t adequately adopted by their firms.

Why should you care?

According to the director of KM for Perkins Coie, every minute spent in non-billable time is like time spent sitting on the couch. Thus, minimizing and making the most of that non-billable time is critical to the success of the firm. Time spent implementing software which doesn’t get adopted by the firm is purely non-billable and ultimately an exercise in futility.

Why is adoption so hard?

Time spent investigating, implementing and training on a software package is non-billable, so these activities can be a hard sell to stakeholders in the firm. Keeping the attention of someone who is challenged to bill thousands of hours a year and is constantly being pulled away from billable activities is difficult enough. In order to keep the attention of attorneys, you’ve got to make things interesting. The panel shared some of their key learnings to increase software adoption.

10 Tips to Increase Adoption 

  1. Tie to the larger business environment
    • Communicate why it matters
    • Show how the technology will help meet client demands and strategic initiatives
    • The more concrete, the better – not “it’s good for you!”
  2. Quantify
    • Support the business case
    • Clarify scope/scale of effort (What is my role in this initiative? When will I be impacted? How much will I need to do or change?)
    • Set expectations around success-measurement
  3. Find champions
    • Find champions among peers or superiors of your target audience
    • Collect success stories and testimonials
    • Advertise them heavily
  4. Build bridges
    • Keep informed about initiatives around the firm and other group’s tools
    • Partner with other groups; cultivate allies
  5. Market and promote
    • Develop a communications plan; key messages by audience
    • Presentation matters: use firm or initiative-specific branding to capture attention and build recognition
    • Promote, promote, promote!
  6. Focus on ongoing education, not rollout
    • Develop communications plans that include post-rollout activities
    • Integrate your message into ongoing efforts such as new hire training, intranet
    • Start a campaign around awareness
  7. Gamification
    • Engage, encourage and incentivize people to complete tasks or accomplish goals
    • Lawyers are instinctively competitive
    • Prizes drive participation
  8. Leverage what they use and where they go
    • Annual partner retreat
    • Practice group meetings (use already scheduled meeting times)
    • 1:1 executive coaching Intranet and email
  9. Target the audience
    • Identify opportunities and pain points for each constituency
    • Tweak materials and messaging for different practice groups (demonstrate individual use-cases; show practice-specific examples; develop tailored communications for different audiences or points of view)
  10. Use different formats
    • Must appeal to different generations, personalities, and styles
    • No one method will reach everyone – diversify!
    • Email, video, in person, self-help

Key Takeaways

Implementing software or a method and walking away is a recipe for wasting precious billable time. Continuously engaging end users in a variety of ways is critical to adoption. One panelist mentioned it can take up to seven touches to get a user seriously interested in adopting a new software. There’s no precise recipe for successful adoption, but getting the right people involved and excited about the project is necessary in all cases. Keep active with your users, be strategic, persevere and you will succeed.


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