Training works. I have seen it work. I have been training the legal industry for quite a few years now and the investment pays off—many times over. I know software companies love to sell you stuff and tell you that it’s “user friendly” or has an intuitive interface. Sure, just go to HELP and watch a video or four and you’re on your way. Ha! I have had to clean up too many messes over the years to buy into that.

Here are some training ideas I hope will get your attention.

  • Get the “Big Picture.” What does the software do? What do you need it to do? How is it different or similar to programs I already use? Wow, maybe the training should allow you to ask questions.
  • Learn how to navigate. Taking a few minutes to learn the best ways to get around can pay huge dividends. Also, it will be quite different in a windows-based program like Time Matters from a web-based program like Clio. There are a handful of great tips that can save you hours and hours in the most basic procedures of getting from A to B.
  • Build a foundation. There is a logical order to learning a program. I know you want to get your billing out and create documents from templates, but guess what? You gotta learn the correct way to enter contacts and matters and create proper links in your relationship database. Build a great database like a house, from the ground up.
  • Focus on workflow. I use a method to keep me on task called Capture, Track and Share. Start with how to capture information that comes into your firm. What do you need to track for reporting and who do you need to share this information with? Sharing can be with case parties and clients but also internally within your office.
  • Get it down to a procedure. A procedure is not a user guide. It is a step-by-step set of actions that accomplishes something in the program—that everyone uses. Keep your procedures to short topics like entering contacts or scanning documents. I use both written instructions and short videos. With a procedure guide, you never go backwards and you have a great tool for building more procedures and training new staff.
  • Don’t try to do it all at once. We learn by association and build on what we already know. Try and prioritize a basic training and then have a second round of more advanced features. If you are seeing glassy eyed deer in the headlights looks staring back at you, then you’ve gone too far or too long.
  • Make learning fun. I know it’s a weird concept but software can be fun. It’s supposed to be a tool to help you get your job done better and with less hair loss. Let’s not forget it.

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A Better Way to Learn Software

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