The main benefit from computerisation comes through the change in human behaviour which will result. People learn new skills, adopt new attitudes and make different – and better – use of their own resources of time, energy and commitment.
The installation of technology is the means of enabling and requiring those changes to take place. But the process for buying technology still places the emphasis on what the equipment and software can do, rather than on the types of behavioural change which will result.
The standard Invitation to Tender from a large law firm seeking a new computer system rightly specifies the detail of performance required in technical terms.
It will certainly not go into the aspects of behaviour change that the system must enable and you can be sure that little attention will have been paid to that elsewhere in the planning and decision making process.
What needs to change is the motivation, self esteem and self confidence of those who provide legal services in the new environment. They need to acquire a desire to do things in a new way and the self-belief which gives them the confidence to start afresh in a new direction.
The buying process often gets the emphasis wrong. The people involved in the selection often seem to exclude or undervalue those who will use the system. They, in turn, find their self-esteem and enthusiasm eroded by their exclusion.
For example, the latest support systems for legal services centre on group working and these require the motivation to work as a team with its associated commitment to a shared cause, a willingness to share tasks with others and trust in the integrity of others' work.
If those underlying approaches fail to develop, the technology will fail to achieve its objective.
If you are introducing new technology, you will need to encourage the motivation of all concerned.
The selection of the technology must include them and must take proper account of the behaviour changes it will produce and require, as well as the technical capabilities it offers.
John Wilde is the managing director of AIM Professional and also of Usher Systems.