Don’t we all want the very best? Dennis Kennedy has recently been republishing on his blog some of his older writing that were originally published elsewhere. There’s a lot of good, very relevant information to be found in those posts. But I really wanted to highlight one concept because it relates to my daily work. I often discuss with lawyers their intended law office technology purchases. Lawyers by their education and daily tasks are trained to do exhaustive research and produce the very best result for their clients. So when they are considering buying new technology they apply these same skills and this same approach. That’s not inherently a bad thing. Unfortunately, achieving perfection with technology purchases is sometimes impossibly difficult.

Dennis quotes author Harry Beckwith in his post "The Best is the Enemy of the Good: Making Good Technology Choices." This well-written post illustrates something many of us find to be a struggle. You can read and compare features until your vision gets blurry, but buying the very best hardware or software is extremely hard. Is a laptop that is 2 pounds lighter really better than one with a slightly faster processor? Should I buy now when I heard that there may be a new version in a few months? Then, after you’ve made a tenative decision, any comment from anyone about the product or a competitor’s product can cause you to start the process all over.

Here is Beckwith’s ratings of the "best" options:

Very good
Not good
Truly god-awful

Note that "best" as a concept ranks third? Why?  "Because," Beckwith says, "getting to best usually gets complicated." I really appreciate Dennis pointing us to that thought.

When I talk to lawyers agonizing between a choice between two or more software packages, I sometimes tell them, "I want you to think about a few things. Any of these packages can do a good job for you. As a matter of fact, you probably won’t fully use the power and features that any of these packages offer. So rather than continuing to analyze the relative apples and oranges, just do two things: 1) Commit to spending money and effort on education and training to more fully utilize the software you do purchase, and 2) Set a deadline by which you agree to make a decision, even though you still may not have all of the facts." Now I will be adding to those comments that getting to the best is often just too complicated.

After you have read the post from Dennis linked about, then read his prior post "Seven Easy Ways for Law Firms to Throw Away Money on Technology" and you’ll be all prepared for your next technology purchase. Just remember that we will all make purchasing decisions that we question later when a new version of the software is released or an ad in the newspaper makes us think we could have purchased more inexpensively. It is worse for your business to devote dozens and dozens of wasted billable attorney hours to decision making than to have purchased "very good" instead of "best."