Whenever there's a group swapping horror stories about work, I bring up that I was the schmuck supporting DocuSign at a law firm when Covid happened. If you work in KM, that joke will likely make you laugh and cry.
In reality, I knew I was (and still am) one of the lucky ones. There are a couple of reasons I felt lucky during peak Covid. For one, I had a job, and many people I knew did not. More than that, though, I worked with a supportive and caring group of people.
The moral of this lengthy intro is that the quality of the people we work with is most often the factor that determines our success. Whether you work in the legal industry, retail, or a hospital, this sentiment rings true. However, this concept (that people are our greatest asset) is fundamental when you're in a KM role.
So, how can KM teams use technology to leverage the value of their people? It could be simpler than we think.
Match your products with your people.
A big part of KM is being able to 1) anticipate attorneys' needs and 2) find the best tech to meet those needs, which often means shopping around. When making purchase decisions, think back to what you know about the potential end user and their practice. For example, do they have to constantly change how they do things to keep up with regulations or client expectations? If yes, and flexibility is a priority, look for products that don't require IT support to update and maintain.
When you have a specific use case in mind, interview all the people you know who are likely to use it, not just partners and team leads. The opinion of those folks with boots on the ground is invaluable when searching for the right product to offer a team.
Currently, I'm part of a team developing a case management solution for an insurance company. I don't work in insurance, nor am I a traditional software developer, so things haven't necessarily been "easy" for me. However, stakeholders on their side had the foresight to invite another teammate and me to visit one of their call centers and observe agents while they managed actual cases. That experience helped us understand how the end users would use our software, and the impact it had on following requirements-gathering sessions was incredible.
I need to confess something. I literally wait until I can no longer use my favorite apps to update my iPhone so I understand other people's resistance to trying new software. Sometimes, opposition to tech stems from the fear that we can't figure it out. We're afraid we won't be able to do the things we need to get done when we need to do them. In situations like this, over-communicating with someone can help alleviate their fears.
By over-communicate, I mean to assume nothing. As a pre-sales engineer at Neota, I work with people unfamiliar with no-code development who have just learned about our platform with a ton of different uses and implementations. So when I'm wondering if I should say something, I do it anyway. I address every question that pops into my head, even the ones that seem silly, like, "Does everyone know what UAT stands for?" I also ask for second opinions and rely heavily on my teammates' expertise.
Choose good tech.
You might be thinking, "That's great, but how do I know which products my people will think are "good"? I have a straightforward and not-at-all scientific answer based on my experience, first as a KM analyst and now as a technology vendor in the legal space. Technology is good when it helps people work better and makes their lives earlier. The best way to find that out is by asking the people who use your tools. Get them talking about their day and learn from their experiences.
There are a ton of metrics to consider when evaluating legal tech, and I can't understate the importance of things like data tracking and KPIs. However, the difference between good and bad technology often comes down to two simple things - Do people use it? Does it piss people off? Ideally, the answers to these questions are "Yes" and "No" in that order, but you have to ask.
Having the right people in place makes the Work of KM essential. After all, what enterprise knowledge would we have to share if not for people's talent and expertise?
The simplest way we use technology to leverage people's strengths is by getting more of them to use it. KM Teams can do this by focusing on individual preferences and habits when purchasing technology, prioritizing clear communication, and asking users simple, straightforward questions about their experiences.
I'll paraphrase my former colleague in KM by closing with this: work is work. Who you work with, the people, that's what makes all the difference.
About the Author
Melanie Segraves is a former marketing guru and legal geek who regularly works with law firm clients as a pre-sales engineer at Neota. When she's not geeking out, she loves to paint, cook, and spend time with her daughter, who also loves computers and technology.#KnowledgeManagementandSearch#Firm#Leadership