This article is the third of our four-part blog series, focusing solely on matter management and its various aspects. If you have not yet read the first two articles, click here (Part I, Part II) to catch up.
In part three, Carina Smolik-Fischer, director of product at BusyLamp (an Onit company) sums up 7 key aspects legal departments should consider when choosing the right matter management vendor. Here, you’ll get guidance on how to proceed once you have decided to purchase matter management software.
The decision has been made! You want to implement a matter management solution that makes your daily work more efficient, lets you work more effectively on matters, documents, legal intakes, and makes internal and external collaboration easier – congratulations on that! But now it’s time to ask yourself who is the right sparring partner for the job. Someone who assists you with scoping the project, supporting you with configuration, and onboarding your legal team to make this project a success. In my professional career, I gained profound experience with various matter management solutions. I found that some rules have proven true regarding finding the ideal matter management solution for a legal department. In the following, I would like to share the most valuable insights with you:
1. Your IT and Technology Matters
First and foremost, you must clarify with your IT and security department which requirements the new application must meet. IT will support you in checking if the matter management vendors meet important requirements like system provider and localization, data privacy, security, and certificates. BusyLamp meets a range of global certifications and regulatory and compliance standards, such as ISO 27001, GDPR, and more. Learn more about it here.
Next to the technical topics, support and provisions are vital, like license model, support model, updated deployment and maintenance, as well as integrations and quick implementation possibilities. Our data security checklist for in-house teams can help you keep the key IT considerations in mind.
And finally, costs and contract considerations like licenses and onboarding costs, contract duration, and payment terms are crucial. Our blog about hidden costs can help you to avoid underestimating the investment and to keep all costs in mind. This way, you can aim to select only the most suitable providers and shorten your vendors list.
2. Is the organization sustainable and scalable?
Besides the hard facts, soft skills should also drive your decision. When evaluating software vendors, take the time to dive into their backgrounds. Find out how long they have been active in the legal industry and whether they are currently growing or downsizing. Do they have a professional product and customer service team? Are they big enough and experienced enough to address your potential questions and concerns? Are they constantly developing the product and thus willing to grow with your future requirements? Make sure other customers are satisfied. Customer satisfaction is the best currency when predicting your project success.
3. Onboard your legal department early in the process
Get your legal department on board to drive user adoption. The project will only succeed if you have your colleagues by your side. This aspect should never be underestimated. We highly recommend you form a team with tech-savvy colleagues who represent your activities and know your department well. These can be lawyers, paralegals, assistants, and/or Legal Operations. Further recommendations on how to secure user adoption can be found within this blog article.
4. Request specific information from your potential matter management vendor
Let the team define its requirements. The best is using specific examples of their daily work and identifying what’s missing. Collect, classify and prioritize challenges and find intersection points. Which “pain points” are most relevant, which aspects are not so important, and which would be “nice to have”? Create a list and make it accessible to the team so that each team member feels included. Add key aspects your IT departments provide and collect all the data you need to make the right decision.
Once you have your list ready, share it with the potential providers and ask them to fill in their details. Use this sheet as preparation for the software presentation meeting.
5. Schedule Software Preparations and Work on a Practical Example
Once the day arrives, and you have invited vendors for the software presentation, it’s time to get down to business. Invite your team (the devil is in the details) and prepare your requirements list. Also, consider inviting a key user from the IT department to clarify all potential IT questions.
Take the chance and ask all the questions you and your team have. Ask the presenter to run through a specific use case completely. Make sure that the whole flow can be mapped within the application. That way, you will receive a realistic idea of whether the software suits your needs.
6. Ask for a Test Drive
Before committing to a new software solution, be sure to kick the tires. Most vendors offer a free trial to test features, benefits, and usability. Make sure the software contains the features you need, as well as the functionality. Use this critical phase to examine the software and put the provider through its paces. This is the only way for you to find out if it is a perfect match.
7. “It Takes Two to Tango”
At the end of the day, the relationship with the software solution representative is very important for mutual success. There must be clear communication and trust on both sides. Make use of a reliable and experienced single point of contact. You and your team spend plenty of effort defining your legal department’s goals and requirements, so it’s important that you don’t rush the last phase of your evaluation process and choose the most suitable matter management vendor wisely.