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August 2001
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I.T. Obstacles

Managing Expectations During ISP Installations

By Mike Bates

Managing Expectations During ISP Installations WANT happy campers in your office when you are installing an ISP? Here are some tips to help you manage expectations of your lawyers and support staff.

* Installations aren't "plug-and-play."

Any time a firm merges a new Internet service with its existing computer hardware and software, it will take time to work out the kinks. This is just a fact of the digital world.

* Increased difficulties are inevitable.

For all the benefits new technologies bring, adding ISP services increases the complexity of your existing computer systems and will increase the degree of difficulty for all the systems to work together properly and efficiently.

* No two ISP installations are alike, because no two computer systems are exactly the same.

* Don't expect sales staff to have the same level of training as the service provider's technical staff.

This can be another source of frustration. The different job functions (sales and technical support) require entirely different skill sets.

* Do your homework.

If you research about the technology and learn the terminology, it will be easier to work with third-party technical staff.

A useful site is, which features definitions for thousands of information technology terms.

Another useful resource is Newton's Telecom Dictionary, which can can be purchased in the technology sections of most major bookstores.

* Talk with other law firms.

Managing Expectations During ISP Installations Talking with other firms, and learning about their experiences, is a very good way to learn about the process. It helps you discover what questions to ask and what to expect.

* Consider self-installation.

This will require a degree of technical skill, but it can be done, and you'll save money.

But you'll want to weigh the potential savings against the additional time required for your staff to handle the installation.

* Always expect Murphy's Law.

There will be some surprises and a few kinks to work out.

* Be patient.

A good rule of thumb is to estimate how long it will take to install and transition to a new Internet or communications technology and then double the estimate. Don't be disappointed if it takes even longer.

Michael Bates is group product manager, small business markets, for Verizon Online.

Legaltech San Francisco
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