One of the most important principles of the tech-age firm is that the advancement to which we ascribe is a relative one. We must always remain open-minded, just as ready to challenge the techniques of our traditional counterparts as our own.
The most important tool in challenging ourselves is through the "test-drive". New technologies are erupting everyday on top of the Web 2.0 wave, and only through exploring and testing those technologies can we ensure that our firms are still deserving of the "technologically advanced" title.
But how do you conduct one of these test-drives?
First off, the process needs to begin with a little exploration. Most of the time, this is the hardest part, as the sheer size of the internet can make it difficult to know of a breakthrough that can help you. To conduct this exploration a subscription to tech magazines and blogs can be extremely helpful, as it allows us to pool our resources together to discover and share advances that may be of use to firms like ours.
Another way to tackle this "discovery" stage is to ask questions. Get your staff together and discuss ways that your firm may be deficient, without regard to solutions. Once you have realized a need in your firm, it is easy to search the internet for something that could satiate that need. This can be extremely helpful because in most cases all it takes is a realization of a need to find something that can provide for it.
Once the discovery is over, it is time to subscribe, download, or login to, whatever it is that you have found. In this test-drive stage, I suggest handing it off to a staffer who can try it themselves and report back as to how helpful it really was. This way, you can test it on a small scale without causing any shift in daily business. This also allows that staffer to become an expert on that technology, and puts them in a position to lead a potential transition.
Following this test-drive your office should be in a position to make an educated decision as to the merits of a shift in technology or technique, but before the decision is made it may be necessary to brief and prepare your entire team, so that everyone may wholeheartedly embrace and make the shift.
When the decision to change is made, it is best to jump with both feet. Half-adoptions never work and cause a dangerous chasm in your firm. This is why the discovery and test-driving is so important, because you have to be dedicated and confident enough in the new technology to release yourself from old dependencies.
So thats the test-drive. Discovery, testing, and adoption. A mastery of these techniques will be a great tool for your firm, as you will be explorers riding the top of the technological wave that is propelling us all into this century; but more importantly you will be constantly checking yourself for inefficiencies, making your firm a fine-tuned legal machine.