Jared Hostmeyer is senior director of product management at Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions. Views are the author’s own.
As your corporate legal department navigates its way through this era of economic uncertainty, assessing your team’s technological maturity should be at the top of your priority list.
Advanced technology can help you reduce costs, make better strategic decisions and drive value for your organization when it’s needed the most.
But how do you measure if your department is technologically mature? It takes more than just running an inventory of your tools, assessing their age and monitoring their use.
You need to dig in and analyze your solutions’ capabilities to see if they meet your needs. If not, it may be time to become more mature.
Here are four questions you may not have thought to ask when measuring your legal team’s technological maturity.
How you answer these questions will determine your maturity level and help you start planning the next steps in your technology journey.
1. Does your technology help you prioritize and tackle risk?
Each legal matter, no matter how simple or complex, carries with it a degree of risk to your business.
Cost and budget overruns are significant risks that can severely impact your organization and your legal department’s standing within the company. You literally cannot afford to go into matters blind.
You can mitigate this challenge by focusing your efforts on the biggest areas of risk to your business. Your technology should be able to help.
Today’s legal tools can provide transparency so you can understand if the work being done by your internal legal team and outside counsel is in proportion to where risk lives in your matters.
This helps your law department protect your organization from excess or unnecessary costs and show greater value to your business.
2. Do you regularly solicit and assess feedback about your technology’s performance and compare it to your objectives?
Legal technology should be a long-term investment that grows and evolves with your organization’s needs.
If your technology is not meeting those needs, it could be time to reassess its value to your organization.
One of the best ways to gauge if your technology investments are delivering value is by regularly soliciting feedback from the people who use the tools.
The technology users can tell you whether a solution is performing well and meeting their needs or failing to help them reach their objectives.
A good rule of thumb is to perform these assessments annually.
Assessments should be viewed in the context of your business objectives and compared to your roadmap to ensure that your plans still make sense.
Assessments also allow you to address any lagging performance issues before they start to drag your organization down.
3. Do you have a systematic and well-defined approach to change management?
How you handle the introduction of new technology in your legal department can make or break the technology’s adoption and effectiveness.
If users aren’t comfortable with the technology before it’s introduced or they fail to understand its benefits, usage will likely be low and your investment will not pay off.
The most technologically mature legal departments have systematic and well-defined approaches to managing technological change.
They have a plan in place and whenever new tools are introduced, they execute that plan to the letter, the same way every time.
They train users on the technology and ask for their feedback, communicate the benefits early and often, and continue to help team members become comfortable with the tools long after the initial roll-out.
A change management plan signals that organizations understand how to manage and message change. Those organizations are more likely to find success in adopting and gaining value from new technologies.
4. Does your technology track diversity data?
Working with diverse outside counsel brings fresh perspectives, ideas and better results. Therefore, measuring the diversity of your law firms is critical.
Advanced legal technology contains diversity modules that automatically track the diversity data of legal service providers.
They make it easy to track if firms are assigning diverse teams to your matters, are diverse in their timekeeper roles and if they are committed to promoting and hiring diverse staff.
With this data in hand, you can act and have proactive discussions with outside counsel to ensure that your law firms are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).
As the winds of economic change continue to blow, use this time as an opportunity to think about where your corporate legal department is on the technology maturity scale and adjust as necessary.
The right technology can help your team reduce spend, gain efficiency and drive better business value.