Guest Blogger: Terry Renouf, InterAction Implementation Partner, BLM
Recently we completed the implementation of CRM solution Lexis® InterAction® at BLM; and it has been a resounding success. Looking back at our experiences of some previous technology deployments, I note that perhaps the biggest difference in our approach this time was that we undertook this deployment very much as a ‘business’ initiative rather than an ‘IT’ project. It is very easy for the busy lawyer to outline what she/he thinks is important and get on with the day job leaving the busy IT professional to crack on and do the clever, flashy stuff that comes up on the screen. A couple of clicks and of course it looks good, but the need for ongoing dialogue and understanding can get lost all too quickly given the pressures of time created in a busy business environment. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the skills of IT professionals – they play a critical role in technology implementations and bring skills and insight - they are a fundamental part of the team – but it is vital to get the balance right between the roles that IT, the business and those all-important end-users play. For our InterAction project, we nailed this balance.
Also, senior involvement is essential. Partners are the opinion formers and key influencers in a law firm. If the ‘mood music’ in the organisation is wrong, then successful deployment and indeed adoption of the technology becomes so much harder. It’s also a good mechanism for people to feedback upwards to the partners, who can then ensure action to address the issues and concerns that employees might face with the system. From start to finish, I was personally involved in the programme as were many of my colleagues. We explained why a strategic approach to CRM was necessary to adopt and crucially, how InterAction would help them individually with their job tasks, to actually save them time, create better quality of information and communications – and also to avoid the wasted time and effort of communication with contacts who had “moved on” from their business or ours.
Training, driven by a partner delivers value too. For instance, initially in some pockets of the firm, we didn’t see a strong enough adoption of InterAction, as we would have liked. We have adapted our training and delivered in different ways to those groups and individuals for whom the initial training was not best suited for their needs and commitments.
Technology is both a business enabler and a facilitator of change in the way a firm conducts its business operation. Being “connected” is a key part of the BLM differentiation from other law firms in our sector. We have complex tripartite relationships to manage in many of the business relationships that we have including insurer, broker and the policyholder– and all the people who are associated with those businesses. Our implementation was designed with that in mind and its success is a key part and foundation of the development of the BLM brand.
We have learnt much from the InterAction implementation and will be adopting the methodologies and processes for other critical IT systems’ deployment at BLM.