Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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phone system was the primary means of communication between attorneys and their clients. One attorney at Chuhak & Tecson doesn’t even have a computer because his practice is extremely prosperous with only the use of his telephone and a legal pad. Let’s just say that there was immense pressure for a successful implementation. My next steps were, again, to reach out to the contacts I made during the vendor selection phase and find out what my peers had learned through such projects. I knew the wheel had been created and I wanted to tap the collective knowledge of those who had gone before. I learned quite a bit, but also became overwhelmed with choices. Sometimes, even with all the information you glean from others, you just have to do a gut check and make the decisions that are best for your firm. One such decision was whether or not to have our cabling checked. It was an extra expense that many thought was unnecessary. I disagreed. I had all cabling within the suite tested and certified. I felt this was prudent given the fact that, in order to move to VoIP, we had to first upgrade our entire switching infrastructure to gigabyte POE switches. With the cost of such an infrastructure upgrade, it seemed that the minor extra step of cable testing was worth it to ensure that communications were optimized from switch to wall. FIRM’S CULTURE Once the infrastructure was brought up to par, I began working with the phone vendor on telephone selection, licensing options, training programs and all those little things that make or break a project. Training quickly became a very important part of the overall success of the upgrade. CUSTOMIZED TRAINING FOR THE The people at our firm represent a wide variety of generations and learning styles. It was apparent during the first session that my vendor was not taking generational gaps into account, and appropriately customizing the training to address those differences. Because this was imperative to the actual –– and perceived –– success of the project, I became much more involved in the training process than I originally intended. I made sure there was enough information presented within the first 30 minutes of training that when staff walked back to their desks they could make a phone call, check voicemail, transfer a call, place a call on hold and change call-handling modes. The second half of training was voluntary and covered those “nice-to-have” features that some people love, while others may never use. REAPING THE BENEFITS This was a very large and expensive project for our firm. It impacted almost every area of the network and every person in the organization, and involved much more than switching out the telephones sitting on users’ desks. That said, the true measure of success has been that as far as the users are concerned, they simply have a new style of telephone and a whole suite of features they never had before. We are now three months past our live date and I often train users on features such as mobility and call handling options on a one-to-one basis. This usually occurs when I’m addressing some other need and conversation naturally flows to showing them a feature they forgot about or didn’t know was available with the phone system. These are also great elevator speeches. The conversation usually begins with, “Did you know you can ____?” and ends in a 10-minute focused training session related to a feature or option that addresses their specific need. This has been far more successful than overwhelming users with too many options during the implementation. Hindsight is 20/20 and always reveals forgotten details; however, because I had a long time to research, prepare and implement, I had very few “uh-oh” moments. I conquered the fear of this particular project with attention to detail, knowing my firm and its needs and taking advantage of all the resources available to me. My firm now benefits from a very feature-rich and easily administered telephone system. ILTA Kristina Costello is the Information Technology Manager for Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., a 60-attorney office located in Chicago. While project management, negotiations and software assessment are her focus, Kristina is a key participant in the firm’s cost containment initiative and developer of its upcoming IT strategic initiative. Kristina sits on two ILTA Steering Committees, Communications Technologies and Emerging Technology Peer Groups, and has been on the Conference Committee for two years. She can be reached at Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 111

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