Technology is Not Enough

Technology is Not Enough.

Consulting company McKinsey has found
that information technology investment by itself has little effect on
productivity. Management practices have a much bigger impact on
productivity. 

When IT lifts productivity in the The McKinsey Quarterly (2004, #4; free registration may be required)
reports that “a new study of 100 manufacturing companies in France,
Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States supports the view
that IT expenditures have little impact on productivity unless they are
accompanied by first-rate management practices. ”

Differences
in any one of three “process oriented” practices (my words) – lean
manufacturing, performance management, and talent management – account
for huge productivity differences among companies. Differences in IT
investment alone, in contrast, accounted for only 1/6th the impact of
these factors. The study concludes that “companies can get the biggest
benefit by combining IT investments with good management.”

Though
this study focused on manufacturing, I believe the same lessons apply
to law firms. Merely investing in technology is not enough. Lawyers and
staff must find ways to use technology effectively. The firms with the
“best” IT infrastructure and practice software are not necessarily the
ones providing the best client service or the most productive. More
important is considering how work is performed and managing it.

As
most law firms enter the annual budgeting season, this is an important
point to remember. Keeping infrastructure up to date is important. But
improving client service and productivity does not automatically flow
from tech investments. Lawyers and IT staff must work together to
analyze and improve the way lawyers work to achieve real gains.  [Strategic Legal Technology]

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