Shannon Smith is the chief technology officer at Onna, a data management platform. Views are the author’s own.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
While this African proverb was uttered long before the advent of the cloud, it serves as a valuable reminder for legal teams.
After years of being told to do more with less, legal teams are running out of new ways to create efficiencies. Now, it’s time to try working together with business partners, including the IT department, to cut costs.
IT teams are under the same cost-reduction imperatives as legal, but they have a different way to save money on new technology: earning discounts by purchasing bulk credits with technology providers.
With cloud marketplaces such as Google Cloud revolutionizing technology procurement, it’s now much faster and cheaper for IT to add applications on demand.
A cloud marketplace is essentially a one-stop shop for browsing and buying cloud-based software, services and solutions.
Instead of dealing with individual vendors or signing up for separate accounts with different cloud providers, users can browse through a diverse catalog of vendor offerings on a single platform.
This streamlines the procurement process, saves time and enables users to mix and match different options without having to invest in expensive full-service product suites.
However, corporate IT teams don’t always use all of their purchasing credits before they expire, leaving money on the table — unless legal departments can use those credits to their benefit.
In this article, we’ll consider how legal departments can work with IT to leverage their participation in cloud marketplaces. This approach not only helps control corporate technology spend, but it also creates efficiencies and simplifies the procurement and deployment of new legal technology applications.
Solving the corporate spend dilemma
Corporate technology spending is often decentralized, with each departmental team making its own technology purchase decisions.
Typically, the IT department controls the largest technology budget, and their budgets are growing.
In fact, this year, Gartner projects that software budgets will see double-digit growth — 12.3% — as organizations increase their IT spend to transform their work through automation and boost productivity.
IT teams commonly commit to spend a certain amount through a cloud marketplace, much like a healthcare flexible savings account, in exchange for a sizable discount.
But they lose those credits if they don’t spend them in time. That opens the door for the legal department to optimize its technology spend by using unspent IT funds that would otherwise go to waste.
For example, suppose a company commits to purchasing $1.1M in cloud technology in exchange for a $1M in committed spend. If the IT department only uses $700K, it’s leaving $400K of potential purchases on the table.
If legal and IT communicate regularly about optimizing technology spend — and if legal lets IT know that useful legal technology is available through cloud marketplaces — this unspent money represents a valuable opportunity for both business units to use corporate technology dollars more effectively.
Benefits of using a cloud marketplace
When pitching a partnership with IT, legal departments should tout the following four benefits of using a cloud marketplace for legal technology purchases.
Cost savings: Leveraging IT’s pre-committed cloud budget can create significant cost savings for the legal department.
Purchasing applications through the marketplace is often cheaper than buying directly from the provider due to the discount IT earns through its spend commitment.
A wide range of useful legal solutions: Cloud marketplaces offer a diverse catalog of preconfigured software solutions catering to various departmental needs, including marketing, business development and data analytics.
With a cloud marketplace’s centralized hub for legal technology solutions, legal departments can readily find tools for data management, eDiscovery, timekeeping, CMS, privacy and more.
Seamless deployment and integration: Deploying new software is traditionally a time-consuming process. However, a cloud marketplace streamlines onboarding by providing a user-friendly interface for selecting, deploying, and configuring solutions.
With just a few clicks, IT can launch new applications directly into the existing cloud environment.
Those deployed solutions can also be easily connected to the legal department’s current cloud applications and services, resulting in more efficient workflows and greater scalability.
Trusted and verified solutions: The solutions available in a cloud marketplace have already undergone rigorous verification for quality and security.
Legal and IT departments can confidently select applications knowing that they meet industry standards, which saves time and effort compared to the traditional procurement process.
If IT were to separately vet and verify the vendor and software for each solution that legal wanted to purchase, it could take months — delaying projects and racking up additional costs.
Purchasing technology through the marketplace allows legal to acquire the software they need now — even when they don’t have the dedicated budget for it — from a verified vendor.
Next steps for legal departments
Legal department leaders should speak to their colleagues in IT to find out whether their organization has a partnership with a cloud marketplace or is considering such a partnership.
As budgets continue to tighten, cloud marketplaces present an opportunity for IT and legal to go farther together. They can become better corporate stewards by controlling spend, simplifying procurement and enhancing the effectiveness of technology implementations throughout the organization.