10 Questions to Ask Before You Go to the CIO
When it comes to implementing your legal tech roadmap, the Information Technology Department is a key ally: It can supply funding, manpower, advocacy….or all three.
It’s critical to connect with your Chief Information Officer, so he or she understands your legal team’s technology needs and goals. You don’t need to know the difference between SSL encryption and an SQL server to have a meaningful conversation with your IT colleagues; it just takes a little empathy and a little research.
Know Your Audience
Recognize that the IT Department, like Legal, has one of the most stressful jobs in the organization. As one writer for CIO magazine described, “They are all stressed and have no time. They are tortured souls who are constantly checking their phones. They live their lives on the edge of disaster.” Sound familiar?
Moreover, like Legal, IT has a vested interest in keeping information protected and minimizing risk.
In the CIO article, the writer outlined the primary pain point for IT administrators: They are asked to implement too many projects with too few resources. In one study, almost half of CIO respondents said 80 percent of their budgets were consumed just maintaining the status quo. That leaves little budget for new technology for anyone.
Often the result is “Shadow IT,” which occurs when other departments circumvent IT and purchase their own solutions. Shadow IT gives your CIO heartburn for many reasons beyond turf battles; these products, if improperly vetted, can cause security issues, challenges for support staff, and more.
Your mission: Stay out of the shadows. Pitch your in-house legal tech projects with respect and preparation, so the IT Department has the context to approve and support your selected products…and help you when you need it.
Know Your Product
Here are 10 questions to answer before you meet with your CIO. (Your legal tech vendors should be happy to assist you – if they are not, that’s a big red flag on its own.) Together, these questions will help you and IT address, consider and reduce the risks of cloud legal technology.
1. What is the problem?
What problem do we want this technology to solve? How significant is this problem for our business? Does this technology directly address this problem, or is it being “hacked” for an unintended purpose?
2. Who is behind the product?
Get the background of the company developing, selling and supporting the product. What is their story? Why can we count on them?
3. Who has been there before?
Ask the vendor to provide examples of successful implementations. Listen to their case studies, but check references, too. Show that you won’t be the first guinea pig.
4. What kind of support is available?
Technology breaks. When something goes wrong, what help is available? Is it available at no cost?
5. How reliable is the product?
Can we count on the product to work during peak hours? What systems does the vendor have to ensure availability?
6. How much does it cost?
What are all of the expenses associated with this product – licensing, installation, support and maintenance? What costs could we expect to incur over the next three to five years? How much would it cost to add more users to the platform?
7. Can we try it out first?
What kind of “try before you buy” options are available? Can multiple contacts at the organization – i.e. Legal and IT – have access to test the software? If there is a trial period, are there any implementation costs associated with it?
8. How can we tailor it to our needs?
What options are available to customize or configure the software? Can we adjust the display, workflow or reporting? How are we charged for modifications?
9. How strong is the security?
Perform an initial sniff test. Does the vendor adhere to confidentiality and security best practices? Where are its data centers, and how are they protected? Are communications encrypted? IT will have its own questions, but start screening the information security requirements for in-house legal technology. Here’s a sample in-house legal technology information security checklist.
10. What’s the disaster recovery plan?
If this software becomes a major part of your work routine, you need assurances that the vendor has a plan to address business interruptions. What is the plan, how is it tested – and does it actually work?
The answers to these questions will set up your in-house legal tech roadmap for success: You will give the CIO actionable intelligence, and you will build professional solidarity by showing that you have an informed plan to improve the organization you both care about.
For more information on technology decision-making, we encourage you to review these articles, which were helpful references for this article:
- 12 Factors To Help You Evaluate Potential Technical Solutions, Forbes
- Ten Questions to Ask Your Cloud Vendor, Oracle.com
Does your department have a legal technology roadmap? Click here to download our LegalTech white paper, which includes a LegalTech roadmap template to get you started.