If your law firm hasn’t had much experience with technology, selecting the right vendor can be an intimidating process. Luckily, it isn’t so different from choosing any other kind of business with which to work. The right technology vendor should have the “technology” element completely covered. In general, all you should have to do is explain your goals, provide input when determining the best way to work toward these goals and decide what success looks like.
The process of choosing a technology vendor can be confusing. Here are three things to look for when identifying candidates:
- Partnership: What good is it if a vendor sells you a product, but doesn’t care if you use it successfully? A good vendor is more than just a merchant—they are a partner who is willing to invest in learning about you and helping you get where you want to be.
- Right-size options: If a technology vendor can’t scale its offerings to suit your needs, that’s a red flag. One size has never really fit all, and a technology vendor should have a range of options to choose from.
- Experience: When it comes to technology, things change quickly. However, experience still matters. Years of service equate to years of satisfied customers (if they didn’t, the company would no longer be in business), so ample experience is a positive sign.
Once you narrow the field of contenders, here are some general questions you should ask as you assess your options:
Who’s the market leader? No one wants to eat at a restaurant that isn’t positively perceived or see a movie that tanked at the box office. Likewise, no one wants to work with a company that’s failing in the race to the top. If a company has risen above the rest, there’s likely a reason. Look for a technology provider that routinely comes out with new offerings–staying on top of client needs, is established and is imitated by competitors– anticipating where the market is going, and has the muscle and means to break new ground.
What share of the market does this vendor have? Start-ups are flashy and appeal to customers by presenting themselves as edgy and new. However, they frequently have trouble in the long run. If a vendor has enough success to corner a decent share of the market, they are less likely to be here today, gone tomorrow, and that’s the kind of vendor you need.
What support services does this vendor offer? At some point, you’re going to need help and support from your vendor. After all, new things take some getting used to. Make sure your vendor is able to provide the support you need when you need it.
Lastly, when you narrow your options down to final candidates, the following are important issues to address:
How do we define success? The surest way to miss a goal is to not know what that goal was in the first place. It’s your job to define “success” and your vendor’s job to work with you on that concept (Is it achievable? Is it realistic?).
What are our benchmarks? Closely tied to the concept above is how you plan to achieve your goals. There is no such thing as overnight success. You need to have benchmarks along the way to make sure you’re on the right track.
Where will our lessons be learned? Planning at the outset is good, however, sticking to that plan no matter what happens isn’t necessarily the best approach. Ask your technology vendor where they see clients go awry most often. You should be able to learn from these missteps.
To learn more about change management when it comes to technology, read the white paper Stop Grinding the Gears: How to Make Legal Technology Adoptions Work at Your Firm.