Adopting New Legal Technology: 3 Pitfalls to Avoid
In today's rapidly evolving legal landscape, technology has become an indispensable tool for law firms and in-house legal departments seeking to improve efficiency, capitalize on their work's value and material impact, and enhance client service.
Legal tech solutions offer a range of benefits, from automating routine tasks to enabling data-driven decision-making. However, implementing legal tech has its challenges. This blog post will explore three common pitfalls to avoid when adopting legal technology.
Pitfall 1: Lack of the proper change management
One of the primary reasons legal technology implementations fail is a gap between expectations and change management initiatives in place. Failing to prepare your department for change and not involving the right people to champion the project can lead to wasted resources and a lack of trust and support from the team.
Implementation without a well-thought-out plan that builds on the People-Process-Technology framework can lead to various challenges and hinder the successful adoption of the technology. Let's consider the essentials of successful implementation.
The right people in the right place
Engaging stakeholders from the beginning fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the implementation. Their input and feedback can contribute to identifying potential issues, refining the project plan, and ensuring that the technology meets their specific needs. Missing the right people in the project may lead to wasted resources and a lack of trust.
In addition to involving stakeholders, conduct workshops to familiarize your team with the product and new potential workflows. Doing so will help generate interest and buy-in.
Remember, people may be reluctant to change due to their own reasons. That's why motivations to implement and use new solutions may vary. For someone, it's saving time; for others saving money; for someone else, it's more convenient processes, etc. That's why finding a "champion" outside the implementation team who can advocate for the benefits of the new technology further promotes its value and facilitates change across the organization.
Implementing new tools requires carefully considering financial, human, and technological resources. Without proper planning, organizations may have too few resources to support the implementation effectively. This can result in delays, inefficiencies, and a lack of end-user support. Organizations need to conduct a comprehensive resource analysis and ensure adequate allocation to optimize their chances of success.
Timelines and Milestones
Planning the implementation process in smaller, manageable pieces and discussing the roadmap with stakeholders can help familiarize them with the product. This approach increases interest and engagement, making the implementation process 50% faster.
This plan should include timelines and milestones. Establishing realistic deadlines and turning points allows for better progress tracking, accountability, and effective coordination among team members. Additionally, it lets you adjust the plan according to the conditions or unexpected changes. Also, pay attention to risk management because organizations can minimize disruptions and setbacks during the implementation process by identifying and addressing potential challenges early on.
Altogether, it helps ensure the implementation stays on track and enables stakeholders to monitor the project's success.
Pitfall 2: Not having success criteria
Before starting the project, clearly define the pain points you're trying to solve, and select the pain point that will give you the best benefits once solved. Without such predefined objectives, monitoring progress and effectively coordinating resources becomes challenging. These benefits could include saving time, reducing costs, automating recurring tasks, or focusing on higher-value-add work.
Make sure these criteria are (1) measurable and (2) attainable. The best way would be to build hypotheses, e.g.:
"Our lawyers spend too much time on NDAs. Last year they processed 600 NDAs, wasting 300 hours on unproductive work. If we implement CLM software, we expect to save these 300 hours by investing an amount that equals 25% of our lawyer's salary and see the same quality of work."
You would then validate your hypotheses during the implementation and the contracted period, giving you a solid reason to renew or sunset the software.
According to the survey conducted during the dedicated webinar, more than half of the respondents (53%) participated in implementing legal technology without clear criteria for success. With it, you can avoid facing project overwhelm, significantly reducing your chances of successful implementation.
Having specific criteria enables you to measure progress accurately and ensure that the implementation aligns with your objectives. These criteria also help organizations evaluate the technology's potential impact on their operations, client service, and overall growth and prioritize resources and investments to maximize the technology's value. Regular meetings with teams help monitor progress, collect feedback and sentiment, and update success criteria or adjust the plan if necessary.
By having clear success criteria, you can avoid the trap of trying to do too much at once.
Pitfall 3: Underestimating how 'dirty" your data is
Data is the lifeblood of any technology implementation, and underestimating its importance can lead to significant challenges. Implementing new solutions with unclean or incomplete data can hinder the technology's ability to provide value. It is essential to bring all relevant data into the new system and carefully assess what data is necessary and what information is vanity metrics that don't tell a compelling story.
The implementation process is an excellent time to clean your data. To do that, you need to answer the following questions:
What data do you really need? Most likely, you don't need all of the data you have. That's why define the essential data versus the data you don't use and are unlikely to ever use again (for example, outdated metrics). Also, make sure that all the data you are tracking links to your larger goals and helps demonstrate the value of your work. Siloed metrics that do not fit into a larger picture are more likely to overwhelm than illuminate.
What data can be stored in some repository that's not your daily system? This is the data you won't use daily, but it's still needed occasionally (i.e., company audit information, tax returns, permits, licenses, etc.)
Who will use the data? Involving end-users in the data assessment process helps identify the specific data they require for their work.
How are you going to use this data? By defining the purpose of the data, you can focus on collecting and analyzing the most relevant information, design efficient data processes, derive actionable insights, make informed decisions, and measure the impact of your technology implementation. Also, having this information helps you better understand your organization's needs.
Do you have all the needed data? Organizing and categorizing data and identifying any missing data ensures that the new system meets the users' needs.
How will you exchange data between systems? Usually, companies don't use just one technology solution. They may use CRM, project management systems, billing tools, etc. Therefore, the ability to exchange information is crucial for operational efficiency, as it will help you establish a single source of truth without the need to gather data from different systems.
Recognizing the significance of clean data and involving end-users in the assessment process ensures that the new system meets their needs effectively. But it's also important to understand that cleaning the data is not a one-time event. Establishing data management protocols to maintain cleanliness and regularly reviewing and updating data ensures its ongoing quality. These practices will help you maximize the benefits and value that your new solution can provide.
Adopting legal tech holds tremendous potential for law firms and legal departments to transform their operations, improve efficiency, and deliver better outcomes for their clients. However, navigating the common pitfalls associated with legal tech implementation is essential to reap these benefits. Avoiding these pitfalls requires a strategic approach, including effective change management, clearly defined success criteria, and a robust data strategy. By preparing the team for change, involving stakeholders, and securing buy-in from influential champions, organizations can create a solid foundation for successful technology adoption.
If you're looking for legal technology that can improve the efficiency of your organization, try ContractWorks CLM. ContractWorks is an AI-powered end-to-end contract lifecycle management software. It streamlines contract management processes, improves compliance, reduces risks, and increases operational efficiency. It allows for storing data securely while ensuring transparency and easy access to needed information.
Claim your free trial, and we'll show you how it can improve your contract management workflow and guide you through the implementation process without any friction.
Tech-Tastrophe: Three Pitfalls to Avoid for Legal Tech Implementations
Watch our on-demand webinar for real life insights from In-house Legal leaders
Assessing the Impact of Your Digital Transformation: Key Metrics to Track