The legal sector has seen many changes in recent years. When the Legal Services Act came into force in 2007, new business structures emerged and non-lawyers started taking up financial stakes in law companies. That led to huge investment and more commercially aware law firms that offer a diverse range of services. But where are those new skills coming from? Can implementing recruitment software help?
We want to ensure you’re covered and give you a step by step process for taking on a huge transformational change, so your company doesn’t fall victim to the growing skills shortage.
As someone hiring in the legal sector, you already understand the problems. You need people with expertise in areas such as consulting, risk and forensics, but it can be a challenge to find lawyers with several strings to their bow. Indeed, according to Clayton Legal,
“67% of law firms say skills shortages threaten growth.”
That’s not the only problem. Globalisation has meant law companies keep merging too, which brings its own set of hiring headaches. As firms come together and join forces, each with its own systems, processes and ways of working, things quickly get out of hand. With all of this change, what’s a recruiter to do to keep up?
Technology provides some answers. Implementing recruitment software can be daunting, but done right it can transform your hiring process. Apps and services come and go, but with a quality applicant tracking system (ATS), you’ll gain an all-in-one recruitment solution. Before you know it, you’ll have built the diverse workforce you need to keep your legal company heading in the right direction.
Sound good but not sure where to start? In this post, we share a step-by-step guide to successfully implementing recruitment software in your organisation. We also speak to Chris Bussell, Head of Service Delivery, who shares the expertise and experience gained from implementing our own Tribepad ATS in collaboration with companies in the legal world such as TLT LLP, VWV and DAC Beachcroft.
Feel free to refer back and re-read our Legal Sector Buyer’s Guide whitepaper – you can find it here.
1. Speak (and listen carefully) to your Hiring Managers
Before you start searching for the right software for your company, it’s important that you understand what you need. Your recruitment team and hiring managers are at the coal face of everything you do. Speak to them to learn all of the pain points when it comes to your law firm – then focus on issues related to recruitment. Extract every bit of information you can from them!
2. Get buy in from all of your stakeholders
Implementing recruitment software will have an impact across the company, so it’s a good idea to consult the people it will affect the most. Before you make any decisions, get those key stakeholders into a room and have an open conversation. Do they have any questions? What’s their initial feedback?
Chris advises: “There are a number of ways to get stakeholders involved. Workshops work really well, but if you can’t get everyone in the same place a phone call or separate meeting will do. Keep detailed minutes and make sure everyone feels like they are part of the process.”
3. Understand your objectives
Implementing recruitment software after a a merger where you’re currently operating with two systems? Maybe you’re looking for a way to recruit and manage a team with a broad range of skills. Whatever your law firm’s situation, it’s vital that you understand your objectives and motivation for adopting new recruitment software. It’s a huge change, so think carefully, talk openly and get a grasp on what you want to achieve.
For Chris it’s about purpose and having goals that you can look back on and assess to measure the impact of the change: “Of all the companies I’ve helped to implement new software, those with clear objectives at the beginning of the process are the ones who’ve been most successful.”
4. Know your company’s budget
This is pretty obvious, but it’s worth saying because it’s so important. Before you start looking for new software, work with senior management to establish a budget for the investment. What sort of return on investment are you likely to see? We recommend focusing on value rather than cost, as pricing structures differ and you need to know what you’re getting will meet your objectives. Include figures such prospective time savings and reduction in agency and ad spend.
Here’s Chris’ advice on budgeting: “Of course, before any significant investment, you need to know how much money you have in the coffers. Once you’ve got that worked out, you should contact a few suppliers and ask them to give you an estimate. They may be able to tailor their pricing to your specific needs.”
5. Do your research
Do you know of other law firms or organisations in the legal sector who are successfully implementing recruitment software? Get your contact book out and get in touch with colleagues in the industry to find out what other companies are doing. What worked for them? What would they do differently?
Knowing which software will work for you is tricky. Fortunately, sites like Capterra can help you compare different software packages and learn about the companies that make them. Most providers will have their own customer service team, so don’t be shy about picking up the phone and asking questions directly.
Chris suggests making contact early: “Things change quickly in the tech world, so even if you’ve used certain software before, it could be a different experience next time around. As the person on the other end of the phone, I always appreciate those companies who get in touch to explain their precise situation. It’s a great way to start the relationship.”
6. Learn your own business processes
Got yourself a shortlist of software to choose from? Before you make that big decision, make sure you know your company’s business processes inside out. Speak to your recruitment team to get a first-hand account of how things currently work in your law firm. Gather feedback from everyone.
Chris believes these conversations help everyone feel part of the process: “They are the experts at what they do. If you’re a hiring manager, you will notice problems that HR or IT staff might not be aware of. By speaking to the whole team, you can work with them to put together a list of software features that will directly benefit your company”
“Knowing your business processes and the issues that crop up time and again will help whoever you choose as your software provider too. They can work with you to make sure what gets implemented will address those specific business niggles and pain points.”
7. Demo the software you want to use
The legal sector has gone through a number of big changes in the last few years. Before you make a significant change of your own, please make sure you’ve given the software a thorough review. You’re asking everyone in your law firm to change how they work – you need to get it right.
The good news is most suppliers will give you a free demo of their software. Make sure you have your ready made set of requirements from all your team, as well as any further questions prepared in advance of the demo. Ask the sales team which features are included as standard and which are additional extras.
8. Develop (and stick to) a clear process and plan
Decision made! Once you’ve got your software provider in place, it can be tempting to go full steam ahead. However, it’s so important that you roll out your new software in a way that includes everyone. You need clear processes that your entire team understands and buys into. Does everyone know what’s about to happen? Are they ready?
For Chris it’s all about expectations: “Your staff should have been involved in the decision-making process from the get go, so they should be chomping at the bit. But they need direction and to understand their role. Establish clear sign off points and routes of communication. You need to ensure the colleagues using the new software know what they’re doing and how to get help.”
9. Run a soft live period
Launching new software can be nerve-wracking. There’s no doubt about it. That’s why running a ‘soft live’ period is such a good idea. It means your team can begin using the software while it’s still being implemented and get fully up to speed and engaged in the process.
Chris has helped companies run soft live periods before: “It’s great for the team and takes off some of that initial pressure. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to perform a few final checks and make sure the new system is running smoothly. Again, your provider should be on hand to help you through the launch.”
And it’s important that you ask the right people to give it a spin. Don’t just spend half an hour exploring on your own – get your hiring managers and other key stakeholders in front of a screen too. Spend time assessing how the software works and whether it meets those objectives.
Chris also thinks those key people need to be involved: “Hiring managers especially need to get their hands on the platform. They are always keen to get involved in the process as this decision directly impacts their work. Make a note of any questions you have and put them to your supplier.”
10. Use your support team
Great news – you’re up and running with your new recruitment platform. Still got questions? You’re not on your own – it’s common for those early days to throw up a few problems to iron out. A good software provider will have a dedicated support team that you can phone, email or even live chat with. Make sure that you use them – that’s what they are there for!
As an account manager, Chris is used to building that support relationship: “I really believe that offering proper support gives suppliers a huge advantage. Companies that use our software know that I’m their first port of call when something crops up. Me and the team are just a phone call away and that provides such peace of mind.”
The more you use your new recruitment system, the less chance you’ll need that support. But it’s reassuring to know that it’s there.
Give Tribepad a try
Tribepad ATS is trusted by some of the biggest organisations in the world, including a number of legal organisations in the UK. Call our friendly team on 0114 3122 110 to find out more or arrange a demo.