The original version of this blog was posted on the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) blog
Litigation teams often invest a significant amount of time, energy and money to identify the ideal e-discovery software product or related technology solution to meet their needs. They make a final decision, select the tool and begin the implementation, eager to realize a return on their investment.
Yet, far too often, there is a crucial final element that is overlooked: the importance of a sustained strategy for maximizing effective use of the tools by their end users. Unfortunately, unless your staff is well-trained on using that new software platform and your organization commits to a culture of ongoing learning when it comes to the use of technology tools, you simply can’t expect to reap the full benefits of your investment.
As professionals who have worked in IT for years — both inside and outside of the legal vertical — we can say from experience that an organization’s technology training strategy for their professional team members is arguably the most important predictor of success when it comes to the adoption of e-discovery software tools. In fact, according to a 2017 survey by the Technology Service Industry Association, 64 percent of employees use a software product more after they have undergone any form of dedicated training.
Here are seven reasons why you would be well-served to create a culture of ongoing learning with e-discovery technology solutions:
As the number of members on your team grows — and the inevitability of employee turnover changes the makeup of the staff roster — there is a risk that technology tools will be used in different ways by different individuals. Ongoing training helps to maintain consistency in the way these tools are used across the organization.
2. Benefits of new features
It’s customary for software providers to roll out new features and functionalities to their flagship products on a regular basis. In order for your organization to achieve the full efficiency benefits to be gained from those new features, it’s important that you have a pre-determined commitment to ongoing learning, so all of your users are properly instructed in the latest bells and whistles.
3. Translation of release notes
The B2B software industry has come a long way from the complex user manuals of the 1990s, but the “release notes” that accompany each new iteration of an e-discovery technology offering can still seem like they’re written in a foreign language for end users to decipher. In-person training that can be built into your culture of ongoing learning is crucial to help translate these release notes into intelligible information for your team members.
4. Adoption rate
It’s simple arithmetic: in order to obtain the desired return on your investment in technology tools, you need your staff to use the software that you acquired. A systematic approach to ongoing training will allow your organization to make sure that your professionals are more comfortable with the software tools and more likely to incorporate them into their daily workflow, increasing adoption of the technology and maximizing your return on investment in the software.
5. Just-in-Time training
The best software training programs are able to be deployed to meet individual needs for specific applications as they arise. For example, AccessData offers flexible training options to help e-discovery professionals get the most out of their tools and their teams. From on-site training to virtual classes, AccessData’s training program focuses on the customer, their workflow and the ultimate success of the organization, as AccessData’s experts collaborate with the customer’s e-discovery specialists to build a workflow-based training program.
6. Professional obligations
In April 2018, the North Carolina State Bar Council approved a requirement that lawyers in the state must have one hour of CLE training annually that is devoted to technology training, following the example set by the Florida Bar in 2016 when it became the first state to mandate technology training for lawyers. Moreover, the revised ABA Model Rule 1.1 now requires “technology competence” as a matter of a lawyer’s ethical duties in the representation of clients. It’s clear that technology training is increasingly becoming a professional obligation in the legal profession.
Within the world of e-discovery in particular, it’s becoming more important to identify talent for your organization that has the highest level of professional training — or to cultivate that talent by investing in your employees’ professional development. Certifications have become a key way of identifying that specialized skill set. For example, the Certified E-Discovery Specialist (CEDS) certification, administered by ACEDS, responds to the need for professionals with diverse skills and knowledge across the e-discovery spectrum. The exam is constructed with the help of 40 experts under the strict auspices of a psychometric firm and a worldwide survey, producing a neutral and legally defensible professional certification program that is respected throughout the e-discovery community.
The head-spinning advancements in technology solutions that support the e-discovery workflow have resulted in substantial efficiency gains and cost containment for litigants. Unfortunately, the pace of innovation with the development of those tools has not matched by a commitment to ongoing training when it comes to how they are put to use.
By creating a culture of ongoing technology learning in your organization, you can maximize the return on your investment in software and ensure that the end users of those tools are driving greater efficiency and accuracy throughout the e-discovery workflow.