So, you have carefully assessed your legal team’s challenges, mapped detailed requirements, gone through a thorough assessment process and selected your preferred matter management platform – now what next? Unfortunately, many legal teams stop here without properly thinking about how they are going to make the deployment and adoption of the new system a success. Brining in a new matter management system takes time, money, and effort, therefore it’s essential that plans are made to ensure that the new tool delivers the anticipated value and outcomes for your legal department and wider organisation.
In the fourth and final part of our matter management blog series, we explore five ways that you can make sure the implementation of your new matter management tool is a big success.
1. Start small but aim big
This is less of a tangible step and more of a mindset. Many legal teams (energised by the selection process) get excited by the potential impact of a new matter management tool and want to roll it out as quickly and widely as possible. Other teams are immediately under pressure to prove its value to the organisation – even if they are more cautious about rollout. This leads to overambitious implementations that are almost doomed to failure before they begin. It’s great to have grand plans, but to succeed it’s important to build towards that success incrementally. For example, identify a small sub-team for the initial rollout, or choose a larger group but limit the initial deployed functionality. This allows you to put the necessary support in place, take feedback, measure impact, and learn valuable lessons before a broader rollout.
2. Bring users on a journey with you and implement a solid training programme
Whilst some users of a new matter management system may have been involved in the procurement process, many will not have been. You should not just assume that those users will understand the rationale for bringing in the new tool or be as enthused as the project team. One of the main reasons that new software implementations fail is down to end-user resistance or low adoption. Some put this down to people being stuck in their ways or technophobic, but often it is down to a lack of understanding and ‘buy-in’ on the part of the users. Therefore, make sure you take time to explain to users why the new matter management system is being implemented, link it to their own daily challenges and showcase how it will benefit them personally. Users soon get onboard when they realise a new tech tool will actually make their working life easier! Find more insights on how to secure legal technology adoption in this blog.
Another reason why user adoption of a new matter management system is often low has nothing to do with possible scepticism and resistance on – the part of users – it’s simply because users were not instructed how to use the software. Whilst many newer software platforms are built with an exceptional user experience and are very intuitive, there is still a steep learning curve for any new software platform. It’s a simple fix! When looking for a new matter management system, not only ensure there is good user guidance and support built into the system, but make sure you have co-ordinated thorough training for users and build an associated knowledgebase to deliver learning resources, keep users informed and support new joiners. Ask your vendor to help support your training programme as any Customer-Success driven vendor will have pre-prepared materials and they have extensive experience with onboarding other clients’ users. Also, consider seeking internal volunteers who are willing to champion the new system and provide support and training to new users.
3. Measure, measure, measure
No doubt part of the business plan when requesting budget for a new matter management system included details about the value such a tool would bring to your team and organisation. That value could have been in the shape of lower costs, increased revenues, reduced risk etc. But once you implement a new system, how do you know if it is delivering the desired impact? The answer is that you measure it. To measure the impact, you need to know the status quo before the tool was implemented. Therefore, make sure you have identified your baseline metrics before implementation. You might also consider them as your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For example, if you’re interested in measuring how a matter management system reduces average matter cycle times then make sure you know what average cycle times were before implementing the tool. After this, all you need to do is track the metric to monitor impact and trends over time. Read more about typical KPIs in legal departments in this article. Taking these steps will help you avoid the ‘implement and hope’ trap that many teams fall into.
You also want to make sure you have a functioning feedback loop. No technology implementation is perfect first time. It’s a very rare thing indeed for software to be deployed seamlessly without any issues or subsequent enhancement requests. To see the full value of a new matter management system it’s critical to listen to your users and adapt accordingly. Therefore, when implementing a new system, make sure you have created a user feedback mechanism and have communicated this accordingly. Seek as much feedback as possible, monitor trends and share the results amongst leadership and your users. Transparency is key! Treat implementation as the first step in the journey of your new tool – seek to constantly learn and aim for continuous improvement. As a legal operations software provider we’ve observed this many times, you may actually end-up finding new value from the tool and out-delivering on your forecasted ROI.
4. Create new roles to help drive success
Legal technology has evolved considerably over the last decade. Read more on the evolution of matter management here. Legal departments are looking beyond the traditional document and contract management tools and are now embracing solutions to support intelligent workflows, contract analysis, document assembly and decision automation etc. Many of these new generation tools are highly configurable and can be crafted to solve challenges or optimise certain processes. This requires people with both the legal and technical knowledge to “engineer” these solutions. Furthermore, as legal department tech stacks grow, there is a requirement to manage the different solutions, maintain relationships with vendors, look for synergies, engage with central IT departments and ensure the legal team is supported and enabled from a technology perspective. Therefore, when thinking about implementing a new matter management system, why not plan to bring in additional roles such as legal engineers and legal technology managers to ensure its success. Don’t think that only lawyers can pick this up – legal technology is now a vocation in its own right! Many legal teams therefore increasingly bring experts from alternative professional backgrounds to the table. Use this opportunity to make your legal team even more agile and diverse.
5. Support your new users
Upfront training for a new matter management system isn’t enough on its own – it is also critical to make ongoing support available to users so that any technical or usability issues can be addressed quickly to reduce friction. The minute a user runs into friction, the more likely it is that they switch off from the new system. This friction may be caused by not understanding certain functionality, performance issues or even bugs in the system. Whatever causes the friction, there should be systems and processes in place for a user to report their issue and obtain help and guidance. It’s critical to agree from the outset who within your organisation will support your new matter management system. Best practice is not to assume it will be IT – as they only have limited resources and adding a new tool to their list may not be easy. Therefore, make sure you discuss support adequately before implementing a new system and agree responsibility and internal SLAs, e.g., what issues are supported, by whom, and when is support provided. Then make sure your users know what support is available and how they reach it. Many sophisticated vendors also offer a support area within their application. This can anticipate many issues from the outset and avoid frustration and a high workload for your internal colleagues. Ask about this when selecting a vendor. Also, consider monitoring support data to help identify common issues – this can help improve training and support processes.
Implementing a new matter management system is not easy. It takes careful planning and involves putting in place processes and support to make sure everyone is enabled to see the full value of the new tool and ensure that value is continually delivered throughout the lifecycle of the matter management platform. Starting with these five key tips will certainly help keep you focused during your implementation journey.
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This is the fourth and final part of our blog series which is focusing solely on matter management and its various aspects. If you have not yet read the first three articles, click below to catch up: