Abstract Project planning, training, and support strategies are all necessary when implementing a technology plan. This paper will discuss how a new technology system should be implemented in the Finance Department in a law firm and what necessary steps are needed to have a successful technology implementation. Technology Implementation Paper Implementing new technology will affect all employees in the organization. When a recommendation is made to implement new technology or upgrade, facts need to be presented to an Executive Committee or Board for approval.
Having the correct answers for questions regarding these changes need to be answered before the implementation will take place. The author of this paper will discuss the implementation of accounting software done in a law firm where she worked. This paper will discuss what is involved, who is involved in the decision making process, and who is affected by these decisions when a new technology system is implemented. Project Plans The first step when implementing a new technology system in the Finance Department is what software is suitable for the accounting which is done in the organization. Upgrading for the sake of upgrading is not a sound business strategy. However, continuing to use outdated technology could cost your business. Upgrading may advance your company’s competitive position in the marketplace” (Kform, 2006, ¶ 5). Accounting software programs work differently depending on what type of organization you work for and in a law firm, the Finance Department works differently from most organizations. When the author of this paper worked in a law firm, she had the experience of a new accounting software program being implemented during the time she worked at the law firm.
Since all employees in the Finance Department were being affected by the new software, they all should have had some say in the project, but it was the CEO and the Billing Manager who were involved in the project planning. The CEO and the Billing Manager were the ones who did the research and evaluated different software by visiting other law firms. Learning about the accounting software before purchasing the software, is a smart way for the law firm to make a wise decision before spending a great deal of money.
The accounting process in a law firm has the regular accounts payable; accounts receivable, petty cash, and billing departments, but law firms also deal with client’s money. This account is called the trust account. With the trust account, the firm cannot use this money for any firm expenses. The trust account is like keeping a check book for the client and paying the clients bills. Some expenses are client billable and these expenses are billed directly to the clients and once the clients pay their bill, the firm is paid back.
The author of this paper did not think the CEO and Billing Manager were the most knowledgeable with the hands on approach for each department. Her recommendation would have been to take one key person from accounts payable, accounts receivable and the trust department, to evaluate and work with the software. Managers should not be the only ones to decide on the applications in each department because the employees are the ones who work with the program day in and day out. Most of the time, managers do not even know how to do certain aspects of their department.
When the decision is made to purchase the new accounting software, the technical team should be consulted to determine the requirements for the new program to be implemented with the current hardware and the downtime the company can expect during the installation. The employees are the ones who work with the current technology every day, consulting them may reveal some needed aspects they feel are necessary and overlooked. In addition, consulting the employees will help instill a feeling of empowerment among them and lessen resistance to learning the use of the new program. Employees should be informed about changes before they are introduced” (Regan and O’Conner, 2002). When employees are well informed, resistance is reduced. By giving the employees a feeling of ownership in the project, will help them to take the time to recognize what the firm wishes to accomplish and share in its vision. The next consideration before finalizing the approval of the new program is the resources needed to confirm this expense in the firm’s budget. “Although an enterprise wants to implement change, lans may have to be compromised, postponed, or scrapped because of insufficient resources” (Regan and O’Conner, 2002). Realistic and proper planning and budgeting for the project can assist in avoiding this problem and allow the program to reach completion. Implementation Plans When the new technology has been agreed upon and purchased, the firm needs to begin working on the implementation plans. The first step of the process should be consultation of the technology team to confirm the resources needed for the software and to determine any down time on the primary system while the upgrade is being installed.
If any downtime is predicted, the Finance Department should be consulted to determine the effect it will have on the day-to-day business. If this consultation raises concerns because the downtime will have a large impact on the firm, management should return to the technological group to brainstorm possible solutions such as overtime hours to implement upgrades, after hours or, installation in pieces instead of all at once. Once the implementation plan is finalized, all employees in the Finance Department should be notified of the plan to make the necessary arrangements to continue the firm’s workflow.
The next part of the implementation is testing of the new software to make sure everything functions as expected. This testing should be completed by all departments within the Finance Department. When a new technology system is implemented in the Finance Department, the old software and the new software should run parallel for the first year. This will help make sure all the information, including the client’s billing information, was pulled over correctly and all the information is correct. Training Plans
The next step in the implementation process is training the users on the new software. The recommendation of the author is to have the training in the Finance Department at the firm. The training should be conducted by the experts from the company where the new software was purchased. The training process should include actual work being processed so testing of the software is being done at the same time. If the program is running without errors, compared to the old system, the implementation has been successful.
In the Finance Department, the testing may take longer because work is done daily, monthly, quarterly, and at year end. After each month client expenses are posted against the clients bills. The managers in each division need to prepare to allow time for the staff to attend training classes and expect productivity to fall slightly until the staff is fully trained and comfortable with the new software. Management also needs to ensure the learning styles and needs of each employee and take into consideration any other methods of training that can be provided.
Some of the staff will be able to learn the system just by attending training classes, but others may need further reading materials and hands on training programs. The recommendation of the author is to have the technological team develop an online interactive program for the employees needing additional training when they can experiment on that program without touching the live system. Support Strategies Training does not end with the initial instruction. Additional training should be addressed as needed and as further upgrades to the program are implemented.
Issues will occur with any new technology being implemented. The technical team needs to be supportive and focus on keeping the program running smoothly and address questions and concerns from the employees in the department. Depending on the needs determined by management, support teams may be developed on site or become available via phone, email, or online help where the software company can site the employees for support purposes. Implementing new technology will affect all employees in the firm.
With proper planning, training, and support strategies, the technology implementation will be successful. Keeping employees well informed of new technology will help reduce resistance and will help the employees stay productive. With proper training and continued technical support, employees will adapt to the change and this will help reduce the down time within the firm. Having a support staff for employees will reduce any stress when the employees are not sure how something is done. Having access to help when new technology is implemented is an important factor to help employees accept new technology.