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Why Does Software Go Unused? Improving Outcomes by Increasing Adoption Rates

By Litera Microsystems on November 21, 2019
Litera Microsystems

Are you throwing away a significant portion of your technology budget?

If your firm has purchased software or licenses that you’re not actively using, you might as well be throwing that money straight in the trash. Incomplete software adoption is a pervasive problem for companies of all types and sizes. We’re not talking about those firms or companies that haven’t obtained the right technology or haven’t made an investment in tech—we’re talking about the ones that have done the research, signed the deal, and onboarded the technology but still aren’t using it on a regular basis.

What goes wrong, and what can you do about it?

What Happens When Software Isn’t Adopted

Not using purchased technology hurts organizations twice.

First, they waste a substantial amount of money purchasing software that they don’t then use. One study from 2016 estimated that companies in the U.S. and the UK spent $34 billion a year on licenses that were underused or entirely unused. That research found that 8 percent of applications were used less than monthly and a full 30 percent weren’t used at all. With the continuing expansion in the legal technology market—and the diversity of software solutions offered to law firms—that figure has likely grown over the last three years.

But it’s not just the wasted money that’s a problem: organizations also aren’t getting the benefits or the efficiencies of technology that they’re not using. Every time a firm goes to the effort to source a piece of software, it’s trying to solve a pain point—but if no one uses the software, the pain remains.

Why Don’t Employees Use Software?

Poor software adoption has multiple causes. Perhaps the organization failed in its change management initiative or never obtained staff buy-in for the chosen technology. It may take too long to learn how to use; particularly in law firms, with the emphasis on billable hours, lawyers find themselves unable or unwilling to set aside unbillable—and, at least for the short term, unprofitable—time to learn how a new application works.

Just as often, though, the fault lies not with the organization, its IT department, or individual employees but with the technology itself. If an application isn’t smoothly and organically integrated into an existing attorney workflow, its adoption demands an additional step that often proves impossible: people have to remember that it’s there and take the time to access it. That may mean extra clicks, added screen hops, and the costly distraction of task switching.

How to Increase Software Adoption

To get the most from your technology budget, focus on buying software that integrates with the way your attorneys work, saves real time, and improves outcomes. Recruit your tech-friendly early adopters as mentors and champions so that they can spread their enthusiasm. Ideally, you’ll create a “snowball” effect where an ever-growing number of staff see the benefits and share the news about how well the new system solves a problem.

As technology evolves to be more intuitive and user-friendly, formal training programs—and the time they require—may be less necessary. Instead of planning for hours of training, look for software that comes with just-in-time training and assistance and get people using it as quickly as possible.

Don’t waste time and money purchasing software and licenses that no one uses. To learn more about how Litera’s products integrate seamlessly to solve real-world document problems for lawyers and law firms, please contact us.

Topics: Technology, Workflow, Adoption

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