July 20 by Steve Feyer
Four out of four legal operations leaders agree: 25 years after Enterprise Legal Management systems first appeared in the market, most legal work and legal processes still take place outside these systems.
Why? Without the right technology implementation processes, companies fail to buy the right technologies and can’t use them correctly. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are four pieces of their expert advice that can help you implement legal technology:
1. Find Your Fit
Not every application is right for every legal department. One-size-fits-all is for slippers—not technology. Each legal department has a different level of maturity.
To identify your unique needs, start by speaking with your individual legal teams and related stakeholders, including sales, procurement, and IT. Not only will these conversations help you understand your readiness for new technology, they will also help you define your priorities and even improve adoption at the end of the implementation process.
So whatever technology needs you have, consider vendors that provide a maturity model to help you level-set the technology you need. Buy too little and you won’t be able to move your work to the system, but buy too much and you will waste precious resources. The right technology partner will be concerned with your needs above all.
2. Feel Out Your Flow
A good technology platform will not be confusing—ease of use and simplicity are essential. Yet even a technology that’s easy to use won’t be adopted if it doesn’t match the way your attorneys and operations professionals work today. It’s the Catch-22 of more than two decades of legal technologies.
At the same time, bringing in new technology offers a golden opportunity to change processes where it makes sense to do so.
Balance the need to keep familiar workflows with process improvements that can offer huge benefits. Focus on changes that flow well in the tool you’ve selected, and that will excite your users by saving them time and effort. And make sure your vendor can work through change management with you, and respects the path you choose that works best for your team.
3. Make Time to Measure
In the hustle of gathering requirements, gaining buy-in, checking progress, and other day-to-day tasks, often the very goal of the implementation is lost. Most often the goal is cost savings, but other common objectives include efficiency, new revenue, and policy adherence. If you don’t think about your measurable goal at the outset—and throughout the process—you may find yourself with a shiny new system and no way to determine its value.
This best practice is surprisingly hard: Even the experts report that analytics and reporting are the biggest challenges they have with their legal technology. Make sure you know how to measure your savings, particularly cost savings.
Your technology vendor should be able to demonstrate how its customers have achieved measurable goals, and offer whatever help you need to do so yourself. Don’t expect others to understand the benefits you’ve achieved unless you can show them.
4. No Train, No Gain
Your vendor will work with you during the purchase process, the implementation process, and rollout. But eventually they’ll leave you alone to use your new system—so what happens then? If your team doesn’t have someone who knows the technology and integrations inside-out, you may start to struggle. Small issues could lead to big problems with usage.
It helps to have someone who learns the technology in depth. Your in-house expert could be on another team such as IT, so building a strong relationship with IT is also important.
To give yourself the best experience with your technology, choose a vendor with a strong training program. A good vendor will also have an IT culture, and will make your technology teams comfortable supporting the new technology.