Managing the Triangle Globally

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 12:40

Don’t focus on just the technology at the expense of people and processes.

One of the key challenges any law department in a global corporation faces is implementing a consistent playbook across all matters from any geography. And one of the traps many people fall into, notes Daryl Teshima, senior managing director for FTI Consulting, is being “overly focused on the technology challenges.” Technology is only one ingredient in success. “You need people who really understand,” he says. “You need great process. You need something that is consistent where you can find repeatable results – and having this process locked down is even more important when you go internationally.”

To demonstrate how to combine these ingredients, Teshima joined FTI’s managing director, Wendy King, and Shamir Colloff, principal product manager at the software firm Relativity, to present a webinar called One Playbook, Any Country: Consistent, Repeatable Workflows Integrating RelativityOne.

Building on Teshima’s point, King told the webinar attendees that for her, “Technology may inform process, because your processes should be the driver for that use of technology, but how it’s deployed and the technology should go hand in hand.”

However, she added, “people are the linchpin because you need their buy-in for those processes, and you need to make them comfortable with how those processes are implemented and how the technology enables them.”

What can make what King termed the “triangle” of technology, people and process work, said Colloff, is “the ability to standardize your processes.” There’s great value, he said, “in having those processes and those people really baked in. Being able to standardize your collections workflow, your processing workflow and your templates – and then synchronizing all of this – is important.

Relativity, he added, “has the capability to ship those various deployments with templates so that everybody is working off the same baseline, and you don’t have to worry about configuration issues on the user side.”

The speakers agreed, however, that the international overlay complicates matters. King recalled a conversation with a colleague who told her, “When I go to another country, it feels like I’m working with an entirely different company, and it’s not always a good experience. And I think the reason why is that I think, ‘Let me just overlay everything I’ve done that worked well here in the U.S. onto that. It’s going to work the same way.’ But the reality is, it doesn’t. We have to understand how to translate what we’ve done into that country as well.”

King elaborated, stressing the importance of “understanding the culture of the country that you are rolling this out into.” Otherwise, she said, “you could go back home thinking you did a really great job only to find out they didn’t really understand what you were asking of them, and your users or your client have a completely different experience because they’re not able to deliver.”

It’s critical to understand, she said, “the unique requirements of the country and be able to know where to modify them and where not to modify them.”

“We’ve basically had to replicate what we could do in the United States in many different countries,” added Teshima, “and not just countries but cultures. We’ve had to assess what concepts, such as the electronic discovery process, are common or not yet ingrained in those places. In many cases we weren’t aware of some of the cultural limitations of how to get things done.”

Colloff addressed some limitations that go beyond culture and familiarity with concepts.

“We’ve seen challenges with China specifically on the appliance model,” he said. “There is an upper limit to how much hardware they want to let in for a single device because they have concerns about what you may be doing with it. Even if you explain to them, ‘We’re doing e-discovery, so don’t worry that we’re going to be searching  for state secrets,’ they say, ‘That’s nice, but we don’t allow more than a certain amount of processing power on machines here.’”

Sometimes, too, Colloff added, “clients have trouble assigning responsibility, but if it’s a multinational project with lots of areas that are being handled, it’s really important that a person or a group of people is responsible for understanding the needs and defining the results.”