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Most, if not all in-house legal departments have a shared distinguishing element: the need to align with the entire business as a trusted partner.

As legal departments adopt and increase their use of technology, aligning business objectives with tech solutions is critical. At the end of the day, any investment needs to benefit the entire organization and enable seamless workflows to eliminate any sense of feeling siloed or isolated.

How can a trusted partnership between the business and legal department benefit an entire organization? When the proper organizational structure is in place, an investment can be very successful when it focuses on people and the business processes they support. It will be viewed as less of a cost center and more of an advantage. Understanding how to work through organizational issues will help to maximize the return on investment (ROI) on any technology investments.

It’s clear that tech spending is increasing. The 2022 Am Law 100 report found that net income across those large firms increased by 35% since 2019, with technology a major target for reinvestment.

Future-proofing with technology begins with understanding the entire organization

Recognizing processes and culture and their impact on the organization will help to better assess any technology investment. Consider the procurement and integration of contract management systems; the successful integration of a tool requires a well-founded understanding of system requirements and the corporate culture in which the tools will be used. Clearly understanding the business before a project is initiated is key for any tool to be accepted enterprise-wide.

What will be gained?

  • Greater efficiencies
  • Greater visibility
  • Improved workload management
  • Rapid responses

Gain better access to everything

Are people frustrated with current business processes? Are inter-departmental relationships constantly challenged? Do bottlenecks obstruct performance? By ascertaining which issues need to be addressed prior to a system rollout, significant improvements can be achieved.

Using technology to respond to legal reporting is significantly more efficient when reporting requirements evolve. Aside from technology, a department’s performance can be navigated appropriately with the proper resources. Consider the talent an organization has during any planning and assessment phase and before investing in a new system. If there are gaps in technological literacy (the ability to use, comprehend, manage, and analyze technology safely, effectively, and responsibly) failure is sure to happen.

Evaluate. Evaluate. Evaluate.

Be careful! With so many software options to choose from, a precise evaluation of what’s available must happen. Impulse buying should not apply with an investment of this size and nature.

Before doing so:

  • Perform an internal spend analysis and understand both the top and bottom lines regarding
  • Determine a budget and how the functionality improves the entire organization
  • Assess how other capabilities not previously considered can improve organizational needs

Following an exhaustive research period, map any technology considerations against business requirements and culture. If needs change during this time, as it may be lengthy, reassess before moving forward.

Legal technology providers can be single-minded in development while a legal department might have competing priorities for development. With the right resources and the right focus on the right commitment, technology investment and adoption will be successful.

Get everyone onboard

Every department within an organization must agree on any fundamental changes for technology investments to be prosperous. Also, think beyond the initial investment by future-proofing your technology to make it adaptable to how events and new challenges may force the organization to evolve (global economic disruptions, pandemics, mergers and acquisitions). The technology chosen today should be able to progress as unforeseen changes occur.

Gaining buy-in from leadership for the adoption of any new technology will also accelerate adoption. Business leaders across the organizations should be on board with change and champion any investment that will enhance the business.

Talented people and better processes equal boosted performance

Continuous improvement for a legal department is an ongoing effort to improve all elements of an organization. It rests on the belief that a stable stream of improvements, meticulously executed, will have transformational results. An organization’s people and processes will make the solutions a success.

Organizations that excel at continuous improvement start with the belief that success comes from: 

  • Innovating things are done
  • Engaging all employees
  • Exploring better ways to deliver service

Proper assessments and design can eliminate obstacles in the path of success and clarify the partnership between in-house legal and the business. Understanding the organization and its culture, effective technology designs can be created that align with the business practices and processes and the needs of everyone.