The Four Most Common Perils of Implementing an Information Management System

Many firms spend a fortune implementing information management systems and then abandon the project mere months later when they fail to perform as hoped. Here are four reasons why those firms were doomed to fail at implementing their information management system:

1.They Treated the System Like a Tool Rather than a Resource

A tool is typically the ends to a mean. We use the tools of our profession to complete tasks and projects on a daily basis. Tools tend to remove the monotonous, menial tasks from our day. They make our lives easier, but seldom do you hear a professional thank their calculator, scale, or tape measure for progressing their careers.

A resource, on the other hand, provides us with the information we need to complete those tasks. A good resource will teach us how to get better. It will identify weaknesses and clearly demonstrate our strengths. Resource is what we can rely on; it is information provided to us based on past experience.

A good information management system will be a firm’s greatest resource, IF, it is treated as a resource rather than a tool. Don’t bring the tool to the table, use it for a moment and then put it away. Use it as a resource, refer to it, update it, use it. Use it again. Encourage others to use it. Host lunch and learns for several weeks, demonstrate the key features and show people how they can find value in the system immediately. Continue to host sessions several weeks apart. Find out how your team is interacting with the system. Don’t forget about this important advancement in your firm’s history.

2. They expected that the information management system will manage client relationships

Information management is so much more than client relationships these days. Obviously client relationships remain the highest priority. However, many CRM solutions only focus on calls placed, lunches had, gifts sent. But…aren’t relationships so much more? Clients tend to be sophisticated. They don’t just want chocolates or an unsolicited call. They want to understand the process, they want to feel assured that you understand them, they want to know how to become better themselves, and they want to be involved in the process.  A good information management solution will provide the data that will prove to your clients that you have the experience and expertise they desire. Information that can be easily accessed and digested in a reader friendly format.

Having said that, you will still need to manage your client relationships. You.  No data / information management solution will ever be able to do that. No matter what the salesperson says. The client will want to hear from you now and then. The difference is that a reliable information management solution will help you speak more convincingly about the strengths of your team and your past performance.

3. Considered Information Management to be an IT (or IS) Solution; Not a Firm Strategy

Most often firms select an information management solution and ask their IT department to roll it out. This is not an IT issue. It is a leadership issue.If you don’t have an abundance of support from leadership, you will not have a reliable information management solution. In order to ensure that the solution is adopted and accepted by the entire team, firm leadership must set specific implementation goals with deadlines. What is the most important resource the solution offers? What specific data points will be most useful now? What is less of a priority (perhaps testimonial information over profitability stats)? Prioritize your goals and implement accordingly.

4. They Selected a One Size Fits All Solution; Rather than an Industry Specific Solution

There are so many options for information management. Many are one size fits all. But professions are very, very different. Law firms need precedent information, relationship histories, billable hours vs profitability, and the ability to identify the potential of cross-selling services.   Architects need a completely different set of informational data points. Architects need a place to store project photos, they need team information (both internal and consultant), project size, sustainability stats, materials / product usage, project cost, project profitability.

As such, choosing a solution that is specific to your industry will mean that many of the features you desire will be offered as part of the “base” model. This will save you time, money and frustration when you don’t have to heavily customize the solution or be the industry “beta test” for the developer.

The most important take away is to make certain the solution you choose helps your work process rather than hinders it. Information Management should not be a chore. It is a powerful resource that is helping many, many firms greatly increase profitability and productivity.  To successfully harness the potential of such a system you must have leadership support and an industry specific product. Once successfully implemented you will wonder how you ever lived without such a critical resource.

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