Technology use in legal departments is on the rise, but widespread adoption is dependent on listening to user needs and feedback.
Technology is a key part of legal’s shift to a more scalable and agile operating model. Legal departments use — or plan to use — technology to automate department workflows and increase efficiencies. They also expect technology to help them be more effective business partners in the digital age, when they must protect the business while enabling its growth and transformation. Of course, the problem isn’t acquiring technology; it’s getting people to use it.
“Despite increasing understanding about the potential of technologies for legal department use, overall investment remains low — an average of only 2% of legal department budgets,” says Vidhya Balasubramanian, practice leader at Gartner. “As expectations and investments grow, Legal must ensure a return on technology investments, primarily by driving adoption.”
To succeed, you’ll need to map out an end-to-end process for technology that begins with scoping the options and ends with successful implementation.
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Scope, then select
The first step is to identify the goal for legal, and select a type of technology accordingly. Before you source system requirements from IT, you need to ask users what they want. If you incorporate a range of perspectives and experiences, you’ll better understand the needs and accordingly tailor the functionalities of the selected technology.
At this point, you also want to secure buy-in from future users. It’s a good idea to find an internal champion from within legal who can coordinate with internal clients and vendors, and ease the way for any change.
Then it’s time to assess the costs (as these vary by desired functionalities) and select the technology. Get a select group of vendors to demo their technologies and submit requests for proposals (RFPs). Key stakeholders from actual user groups and from IT should always attend.
Implement with the focus on adoption
The implementation stage comes next (see graphic). To succeed, the aim of implementation should always be adoption. The initial implementation stages focus on piloting the chosen technology, communicating requirements and managing integration issues. To fuel adoption, you’ll need to take some deliberate actions as soon as you announce the new technology to identify and address resistance or indifference to change. Proactively brainstorm and discuss individuals’ reluctance to adopt a new system and develop a plan for moving beyond initial stalls in adoption.
Once you start to train users on the technology’s functionality, you can reassure them to overcome barriers to adoption, and tailor project communications to each user group. Users in different groups will have different workflows, so their behaviors and preferences may vary. Make sure to differentiate between the user groups, and check in with them periodically to identify new or unforeseen problems.
Also be sure to troubleshoot whatever problems arise; make the feedback cycle a virtuous one or your technology investment will be squandered.
Read more: Legal Department Technology