The legal industry is currently being shaken up by a variety of new technologies: contract management, AI and machine learning, cloud computing, automation, and much more.
Yet despite the promise and the excitement of legal tech, implementing these new developments at your own organization may be easier said than done. According to a survey by the Standish Group, just 29 percent of IT projects are ultimately successful, while 19 percent are considered failures. So what do you need to do to ensure your next tech project goes according to plan?
Here are 5 tips for implementing legal technology at your company that will give you the best chance of success.
1. Know your company
The very first step is to know your company, i.e. the people who work there and their willingness to adopt new technologies. Are they savvy technophiles, or do they need help from the IT department to send an email?
Before starting on a lengthy and expensive IT project, make sure you understand the current technology landscape at your company. Is introducing new legal technology a realistic prospect at this stage in the game? If you don’t already have many software solutions in place, you may need to spend more time building out your business case than if your company is familiar with industry software solutions and the implementation process.
2. Identify your biggest needs
Just because you heard about an exciting new technology solution doesn’t mean that you need to implement it within your own firm. Speak with people across the organization and look to identify the areas where new technology would make a real impact and have the highest return on investment.
One major reason that IT projects fail is being overambitious. Trying to overhaul your entire technology stack at once is a recipe for disaster. Find specific solutions for the most pressing needs, and don’t try to bite off more than you can chew for your first project.
3. Understand your business workflow
After identifying your department's biggest needs, take the time to align these with your current business workflow. Determine where you’re falling short or where there’s room for improvement.
For example, how does your company handle contract inquiries from other departments? If the head of the legal department has to drop everything and go searching every time a question about a specific contract comes up, that person likely isn’t getting to spend enough time on high-value activities that help move the business forward.
4. Find the right allies
Once you’ve determined the technology you want to adopt and the workflow you want to target, your goal should be winning support for your case. Look for allies within the organization who would also benefit from this technology and can help you make your case.
The next step is to speak with key stakeholders who are the most important gatekeepers for project approval. Tailor your arguments based on the reasoning that they find most convincing. For example, executives will likely be convinced by solid facts and figures about the benefits to your business, while managers want to hear that the new technology will make their jobs easier.
5. Shop for the right tool
If you’ve successfully won over the right key stakeholders in your organization, the next step is to find the right tool for the job. The technology selection process can mean the difference between a wildly successful implementation and an unappealing solution that falls flat.
Speak with a number of technology vendors to see if they have experience with companies like yours. Consider the following factors when choosing a legal technology provider:
Cost: Determine not only the size of your budget, but also the kind of fee structure that makes sense based on your needs (per-user or per-feature pricing vs. a flat-rate model).
Features: Are the features offered by a given solution ones that you realistically need or will use?
Security: It's important that you feel confident your vendor has the security measures and protocols in place to protect your sensitive and confidential data.
Installation and support: How long will the solution take to implement and to start seeing returns? Does the provider offer ongoing support and maintenance, free or for a fee?