Budget constraints are the main headline in the SaaS world right now. What impact will that have on in-house legal teams looking to purchase new technology?
Forward-thinking legal teams know that technology, when implemented properly, can be a powerful tool for reducing costs, increasing efficiency, improving communication and ultimately, achieving significant cost savings. Despite this, some legal teams will be forced to prioritize their spending, reducing or delaying the purchase of new software.
Do you think legal teams can find the budget for technology?
Budgets still exist – though they may have taken a hit.
Every day, there’s a headline highlighting another company that’s making double digit workforce reductions. It might sound cliche, and we’ve heard it time and time again, but legal teams will need to do more with less.
That’s where technology comes into play. When a team needs to drive operational efficiencies with fewer resources, they’ll find the budget for the right software that meets their needs.
What advice would you give a legal department looking to take a risk on technology?
Technology adoption, even in today’s climate, doesn’t have to be a risk. Companies that are on the fence about purchasing software don’t have reservations about the technology itself, they have reservations about how the technology will be implemented, if their team will adopt it and leverage the tool to its full potential, and how to show the tool’s value to others across the organization.
Let’s focus on technology implementations for a moment. How can legal teams ensure successful implementations?
I’ve seen thousands of successful implementations – and my fair share of unsuccessful ones. Success or failure comes down to four key things: Buy-in, data, resources and change management.
- Buy-in. Having an executive sponsor that will help drive change, as well as “doers” that actually execute the change and understand what’s in it for them.
- Data. For any tool I’ve ever implemented on the buyer or vendor side in the last decade, data has been the make-or-break variable of whether the implementation is completed on time. It’s critical to have the right people included in the implementation – people who know the details of the business – and enough time allotted to get your data in the system effectively.
- Resources. Do you have the right people on the implementation team to make decisions? And yep, you guessed it, support your data needs. I’ve seen far too many teams rely on the vendor for details that the vendor would never know, like company specific accounting codes or cost centers when implementing e-Billing. Or even something as simple as the correct approvers associated with a matter.
- Change management. By nature of implementing a new system, you’re asking someone to change. To do something they did yesterday a different way today and tomorrow. You must be able to articulate what’s in it for them and tie it back to what motivates them, whether you use a carrot or a stick or both.
You also mentioned value. How will legal teams achieve value from their technology the fastest?
What’s the saying? A plan relieves you of the torment of choice.
To make sure you achieve value quickly, ask the vendor for their implementation plan as early in the evaluation stage as possible. It’s just as critical of a component as the features of the solution.
For all of the solutions in our portfolio, we meet our customers where they’re at and provide options to help ensure their success. For instance, with our e-Billing and matter management solution, SimpleLegal, we have 2 implementation options.
The first is a preconfigured implementation. We take as much guesswork out of implementation as possible, set up our most common configurations to get you started, yet give you the flexibility to adjust it as needed. We’ve sourced best practices from hundreds of implementations to build this out and it accelerates time to value for our customers.
If you prefer more of a “blank slate” approach, then our standard implementation might be a better option. We give you the choices you want and write it according to your plan, not ours. Yes, we have a methodology to guide you through, and yes, we’ll make suggestions along the way, but this is more for our customers who know exactly what they want and just need help getting there.
Can you put a timeframe on when a legal department will see value from a solution?
We’ve seen customers get value in their trial period, even before they become customers. It could be days, weeks or months, depending on the product mix or complexity of the organization’s needs. Our goal is to always implement as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality, so our customers get to the outcomes they’re expecting.
We encourage a “crawl, walk, run” approach in that we make sure we’re aligned to implement features that will give our customers value as quickly as possible. We work with them over time to evolve in any combination of breadth, depthand frequency of use of those features that will allow them to best solve their business problems.
How do you create trust with your customers?
Everyone has experienced at least one nightmare implementation. As a software vendor, we have to create trust with legal teams, acting as support, guidance and even an advocate. In my experience, trust is built on how issues are handled when they arise. Everyone, for the most part, expects a positive service experience, but relationships are strengthened or damaged based on a vendor’s ability to work through those issues with their customers.
Whether you’re looking for e-Billing, contract management, contract drafting or e-Signature, our tools simplify the complex. We take a “no BS” approach to how we communicate. We have a point of view on legal ops and we focus on delivering tangible results and value for our customers at every stage of their journey with us.
Any final thoughts for our readers?
Now is the best time for legal teams to look for legal tech, even if it might not seem like it.
But in order to succeed, legal teams should be encouraged to look beyond the tech and get to know the team behind it. Standout vendors will strive to know their customers and their business needs, connecting them with not only the features that will help them succeed, but also best practices, industry insights, contacts in the legal ops community they can learn from, and where it makes sense, additional solutions that can provide value to them.
Published March 30, 2023.