Talking Tech to Decision Makers: 20 Tips

While I was at LegalTech on Monday, I had a chance to attend a session titled “Talking Tech to Lawyers” which could have easily been titled “Talking Tech to Faculty” or “Talking Tech to Library Decision Makers”. The panel was made up of three CIO’s at law firms who gave some pretty solid advice on ways to build relationships for support of IT initiatives. Bob Dolinsky of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Terry Pressley of Leonard Street and Deinard, and C. Kirk Scruggs from Bracewell & Giuliani LLP offered the following advice.

“You can’t build support sitting in your office”.

  1. Have a service attitude.
  2. Talk in terms of their businesses rather than the technology, in other words how will the technology help them solve their problems.
  3. Express what’s involved in a technology rollout so that they are aware of how much needs to be coordinated in an initiative.
  4. Don’t use technology terms.
  5. Don’t argue with the attorneys.
  6. Realize that the younger, more tech savvy attorneys will want to know more about the technology and it’s okay to talk with them about it.
  7. Make yourself visible through periodic user group meetings, committee meetings, etc.
  8. Be your own marketing department spinning positive accomplishments and letting people know what’s going on.
  9. Start early in your communications if you have a rollout approaching, don’t catch people by surprise.
  10. Always be prepared to answer these two questions…Why should they? and What’s in it for them?
  11. Be knowledgeable about what other firms are doing with tech.
  12. Be sure to align your initiatives with the firm’s core values.
  13. Never say no to decision makers, always give them options.
  14. Realize that early training is very important prior to a major implementation.
  15. Have a decision maker, such as a managing partner send out the email announcement about a new tech rollout so that it won’t be ignored.
  16. Manage expectations of decision makers, let them know what you’re doing, what the key steps are, the main issues or concerns, and when everything will happen.
  17. Make your email communications visually appealing, succinct, and understandable with tech language in layman’s terms.
  18. Work one on one with attorneys to build relationships.
  19. Find out what decision makers’ pain points are and try to fix them.
  20. Keep educated about what’s going on in your tech community by attending conferences, reading white papers, etc.