In my previous blog in this series I reflected on the extraordinary teamwork that goes into producing a Formula 1 champion. It ranges from the hundreds of people involved in designing and building the winning car, to the experts who monitor and analyse data streams from the car during the race, and the pit stop crew who change the wheels and tyres at lightning speed.
For any team to be successful — especially one that crosses disciplines — the ability to communicate is critical. If the analysts can't communicate insights gleaned from the car's data streams to the pit stop crew, there's no guarantee the right tyres will get fitted to the car. And if the driver can't communicate with the rest of the team, he won't get the best from the car, and there will be little chance of a win.
These issues are brought to life in the classic 90’s racing movie 'Days of Thunder', in which the open-wheel racing car driver Cole, played by Tom Cruise, has difficulty adjusting when he moves into NASCAR stock car racing. Initially Cole struggles to drive the NASCAR which is heavier and has smaller tyres than he's been used to. He simply can’t work out why the car slides all over the track, why he burns through tyres and blows engines more than anyone around him.
After a series of non-finishes and wrecked cars Cole is reaching the end of the road with the team, until a conversation with his team manager shines some light on the situation. It turns out that, despite being a great driver, Cole has no idea what his team are saying to him. He doesn’t understand the terminology, and he can’t translate what's happening with the car on the track — so the team can’t support him. Cole and his team manager set about getting a common language and very soon find a way to communicate. The season turns around with Cole's first NASCAR race win.
A team of interpreters
For lawyers using some case management systems, the experience can be similar to Cole's. They may identify issues with the system that need fixing; or know that an update must be made to reflect a change in a process. They may simply have a question about how to get the best out of a feature. But if the system users and system developers don't have a common language in which to communicate, it's hard to make progress — no matter the talent and commitment on both sides. Requirements may get misinterpreted, questions misunderstood, or functionality developed that doesn't quite fit the bill.
On the other hand, if the company behind your case management system employs a team of people who can bridge the gap between law and technology, those risks and issues go away. Lawyers are supported to use the system to best effect, and law firms' IT teams are helped to transform legal processes into workflows.
In addition to blending an understanding of case management system technology with real-world experience of the business of law, that team of experts will ideally be:
- Familiar with the competitive environment in which law firms operate
- Aware of how regulations are evolving and the effect on processes and workflows
- Able to provide perspective on your industry and what your peers are doing
- Focused on ensuring your investment keeps pace with new challenges, objectives and opportunities
How do your case management system and its support network stack up? Is everything optimised to help drive your firm forward; or is a lack of communication holding you back?