Getting ready to implement new in house legal software? Make your CIO happy

As you explore legal technology solutions, it’s imperative to get buy-in from your IT department. Here are 10 questions to answer before you meet the CIO.

Getting ready to implement a new legal matter management software? 10 questions to ask before you go to the CIO

Your in-house 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 operations adoption has improved their matter management workflows, and 60 percent say it has freed them to focus on higher-level issues.

When it comes to implementing new enterprise legal matter management software, 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 in-house legal team’s legal matter software 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.

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. Below are some tips to help you get started when implementing a new legal matter management software.

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 your in-house Legal Department, 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 software 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.

meeting with colleagues about new matter management software

Unfamiliar LegalTech territory

For many Legal Departments, a modern legal matter management system may be the first in house legal software purchase. The LegalTech software vendor names, functions and features will 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 department 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 a modern enterprise legal management solution can improve resourcing and budget accuracy. If you are presenting to the general counsel, show how automated legal reports can make their lives easier. There’s no need to pander here - the right matter management software will bring true benefit throughout the company.  

Know your product

Before you meet with your CIO to get approval for the new matter management system, we recommend answering these 10 questions. (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. Check out our top 10 questions you need answered before you go to the CIO for approval to implement a new cloud based legal software.

1. What is the problem this legal matter software should solve?

What problem do we want this in house legal software to solve? How significant is this problem for our business? How does this legal operations software directly address this problem?

2. Who is behind the in house legal software?

Get the background of the legal software company developing, selling and supporting the matter management system. What is their story? Why can we count on them?

3. Who has been there before?

Ask the matter management software 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.

two women in office using laptop

4. What support is available?

Technology breaks. When something goes wrong, what help is available? Is it available at no cost? Do they offer support if you operate across various geographies/time zones? Is the support 24/7?

5. How reliable is the matter management software?

Can we count on the legal matter software to work during peak hours? What systems does the LegalTech software vendor have to ensure availability?

6. How much does it cost?

What are all of the expenses associated with this in house legal software – licensing, migration of matters, installation, support and maintenance? What costs could the Legal Department expect to incur over the next three to five years? How much would it cost to add more users to this cloud based legal software?

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 legal 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 legal matter 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.

information security

10. What’s the disaster recovery plan?

If this in house legal software becomes a major part of your work routine, you need assurances that the tech 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.

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 legal matter software 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. 

Does your in-house legal department have a legal technology roadmap?

Download our LegalTech roadmap white paper and template to help you get you started on your matter management journey. If you would like to learn more about Xakia's legal matter management software, speak to one of our consultants today for a demo.

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