Pitching new matter management software to your IT or GC? Here are ten questions to anticipate.

If you're ready for modern matter management and looking to pitch IT or your General Counsel, here are the 10 most common questions legal departments should consider - and how to set up for a smooth approval process.

Your Legal Department has decided to take an important step and adopt modern matter management. Exciting things await: According to the latest Bloomberg Legal Operations Survey, two-thirds of in-house lawyers say legal tech adoption has improved their workflows, and 60 percent say it has freed them to focus on higher-level issues. 

First, though, you need approval. While every organization is different, this is likely to be an informal process; in the same Bloomberg survey, just 17 percent of in-house counsel said their legal technology was evaluated through formal protocols. 

Whether you need approval from the general counsel or the Information Technology Department or another branch of the org chart, it is important to make your case effectively.  

Consider the Context 

It’s helpful to channel your audience perspective. Some considerations: 

Unfamiliar tech territory

For many Legal Departments, modern matter management may be the first legal software purchase; the vendor names, functions and features vary widely from standard enterprise software that is familiar to your colleagues in Procurement. 

Unfamiliar subject matter

Moreover, keep in mind that for many of your business colleagues, the Legal Department’s operations can be a bit of a mystery. Projects are “with Legal,” but there is little visibility about what happens between a request and its resolution. They may need a better understanding of the in-house legal function before they understand in-house legal software. Educate your audience about your process; examples and statistics can go a long way to making your perceived need feel very real. (It’s one thing to say, “We’d like to streamline Intake,” it’s another to say, “Right now we receive requests in six different ways, and this risks important issues being lost.”) 

What’s in it for me?

Know your audience and their motivation within the organization. If you are presenting to Finance, share how modern matter management can improve resourcing and budget accuracy. If you are presenting to the general counsel, show how automated reports can make their lives easier. There’s no need to pander here; the right modern matter management system will bring true benefit throughout the company.  

Prepare for Common Questions 

Here are 10 questions to answer before you pitch modern matter management software. While this list may not cover every possible question you will receive – and lucky Legal Departments may not get a one – it covers the most frequently asked questions.  

1. What is the problem?

What problem do we expect this technology to solve? How significant is this problem for the Legal Department? How does legal operations software directly address this problem?

2. Who is behind the product?

Get the credentials of the company developing, selling and supporting the product. What is their story? Can we count on them?

3. Who has been there before?

Ask the vendor to provide examples of successful implementations. Check out their case studies and testimonials, 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 additional cost? Do they offer 24/7 support if you operated across geographies?

5. How reliable is the product?

Can we count on it 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 should we expect to incur over the next three to five years? How much would it cost to add more users?

7. Can we try it out first?

What kind of “try before you buy” options are available? Can multiple contacts at the organization – e.g., 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 online legal workspace? Can we adjust the display, workflow and reporting? How are we charged for modifications?

9. How strong is the security?

Does the vendor adhere to confidentiality and security best practices? Where are its data centers, and how are they protected? Are communications encrypted? 

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? 

In addition to helping you pitch the concept of modern matter management, getting the answers to these questions is one final check to make sure your vendor is the right fit for your Legal Department. Your vendor should be happy to help and provide answers; if they are not, that’s a major red flag on its own. 

Mind Your Allies 

One final note about your colleagues in IT: Even if you don’t need their express approval, you will need their help. Connect with them early and build professional solidarity by showing you have an informed plan to improve the organization you both care about. You can download a project plan that shows how and when IT is involved in a typical rollout here. 

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