Tactical Approaches from In-House Experts

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As technology continues to advance and improve, business operations are benefiting across the board from enhanced efficiencies and automations within individual departments and across the entire organization. Yet, as positive as these upgrades may be in the long-term, they often are seen as intimidating or tedious to integrate in the short-term. So, what is the secret for success in implementing new technologies?

In a recent webinar hosted by the Association of Corporate Counsel, Lindsay Lovell, Marketing Director at BusyLamp, a legal operations software provider specializing in matter and spend management, moderated an insightful discussion on implementing legal technology systems. The panel was comprised of three in-house experts: Joachim Kämpf of ECE Projektmanagement (Germany), Julian Miezitis of the Association of British Foods, and Beejal Patel of Diageo (United Kingdom).

In her opening remarks, Lovell set the stage for the panel, saying “It’s an important discussion, because ensuring legal technology is adopted goes beyond the features alone—it requires that the legal department is brought in, the wider business is considered, the requirements are governed well, user adoption and training are addressed.” The implications of optimization have a much wider reach than just the legal team, warranting a holistic understanding of department and organizational needs, and being innovative and inclusive in introducing new processes.

Bringing forth an abundance of unique experience and yielding an insightful dialogue, the three-pronged structure of the webinar guided the audience through the specifics of how to identify the technological needs within a legal department, what to consider when identifying new tools, and why a consistent follow-up is critical.

How to Identify the Need for New Technologies in a Legal Department

As the digital sphere is in a state of constant change, technological tools must either fight to stay current, or accept the eventual fate of becoming outdated. As such, it is important for companies to keep a watchful eye on the state of their platforms and be prepared to recognize the need for bringing in new systems when the old ones become outdated. “It is about saving costs and reducing the time spent on everyday activities,” Patel pointed out, “staying on top of the platforms a company uses is critical to driving efficiency.” Introducing new technologies must also come from an existing need, the panelists collectively agreed. It is tempting to see an exciting new tool and instantly want to have it—but there may not truly be a need for it. Miezitis went on to elaborate that “the right way is to start with the processes: what are the deficits, where do you want to change something, and then collaborate across departments.” Conversations across departments are critical in identifying where existing needs lie and what mutually beneficial solution can consequently be introduced.

What to Consider When Identifying New Tools

Once an area of improvement has been identified, several steps should be taken in the process of analyzing potential technologies. With so many available vendors, particularly for global companies, attending relevant conferences to explore potential solutions can provide a critical look into the practicalities behind the service. Testing out demos, initiating conference calls, and strategizing with IT experts are all critical steps in the process, Patel shared. “More established vendors may have years of notoriety under their belts, but new vendors can often provide more of a personal touch, so understanding the plethora of available options and how they may operate within a department is key.”

Another important factor to consider throughout the process is the cost and budgeting aspect. As such, “technology that’s beneficial to the entire company is really crucial,” Kämpf added. “Departments are all driven by cost, so it’s really important to select a tool that serves more than just the legal team. It can also be a tool for things like compliance, for instance,” he said. Coordinating the conversation between the legal operations team and other staff members ensures that all company needs are met and taken care of.

Why Consistent Follow-Up is Key

As the number of organizations that feature a legal operations role at senior level continues to grow, so does the clarity of the benefits of the position. Having a designated team of employees who can help their coworkers understand newly introduced technologies is critical for user adoption. Regular in-person group training sessions, webinar recordings, drop-in Q&A sessions, and easy-to-understand language are all important factors to include in onboarding a team onto a new platform. “We appoint a ‘super user’ and then afterward, we have a weekly meeting of detailed statistics so we can track the status through the whole system—user adoption internally as well as with external law firms can be a challenge,” Miezitis shared. “Involving an existing employee to assist in the implementation instead of an external consultant is, in my experience, really important, as it facilitates conversation between colleagues,” he added.

When asked what their key takeaways from the webinar were, the panelists responded: “requirements are key—understand your people, your process, and your content. Spend that time getting it right, and it will give you the foundation you need to move forward with your project,” Patel said. Kämpf added: “Don’t just look at the benefit for the legal department, but also for other departments, and coordinate with colleagues that can help you implement your tools.” Finally, Miezitis stated “don’t underestimate the challenge. Have high caliber, ample resources, and employees who can sort out nuanced complications.”

Embarking on a legal technology project may seem intimidating, but following the steps outlined by these experienced panelists is sure to simplify the process. Long-term efficiency, budget optimization, and improved collaboration are just a few instances of possible successes yielded by improved legal technologies.

To learn more about this topic, these ACC resources might have the solution you’re looking for:

  • The in-house legal practice is changing. The more-for-less challenge is becoming increasingly intense. In response, savvy in-house counsels are creating and implementing new and clever ways to deliver legal services. These exciting in-house innovations not only address current in-house challenges but also help future-proof the career trajectories of their creators. But sometimes, there is no budget for innovation and technology. What then?
  • Check out the ACC Maturity Model Foundational Toolkit on Technology Management. The toolkit can save you time and money when optimizing processes, technology, and human capital to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness (included in ACC Membership)

g.marletta@acc.com

teegler@acc.com

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