Investing in legal technology without a plan is a recipe for disaster. Without a definite timeframe, the implementation stage will take longer than expected or not happen at all. An implementation plan can help you roll out the software in a timely and controlled manner. We’ve outlined the 7 steps of implementation for you below:
1. Set the scope
Start with the obvious. Do you have to comply with any regulations? If the answer’s yes, you’ll definitely want to digitise that information. Next, move onto internal matters – what information are you regularly asked to store, manage and report on? One point of caution: start with one or two areas instead of digitising all your paper documents and processes. It can be overwhelming as the implementation progresses.
2. Identify legal domains
This step involves identifying the type of data you want to store. For example, if you noted contracts in the previous step, then you’ll want to include NDAs, property leases, or security agreements just to name a few. As mentioned in the previous step, the key is not biting off more than you can chew. Limit the domains so your implementation will be easier to manage.
3. Involve the organisation
Since the corporate legal department acts as the nervous system to the rest of the company, there are going to be internal stakeholders involved. If you’re having trouble identifying roles and responsibilities, you can use the RACI matrix, an acronym for Responsible, Accountable¸ Consulted and Informed. There are other variations of this model available, but whatever you decide, communication is key.
4. Collect relevant data
This step varies drastically for organisations depending on how, and where the information is stored. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the need to collect every single piece of information that falls under the legal department’s responsibility. However, this is both time-consuming and unrealistic. To make this process manageable, focus on collecting data you need from an operational perspective. For contracts, this means start and end date, parties involved, – any other data you may need to report on this.
5. Assess risks and gain insights
The fifth and sixth steps are related, so it’s not uncommon to combine them. After you’ve consolidated your information into a single solution, it’s easier to identify trends – and gaps – in your information. You’ll have a better idea of what data you need to monitor.
6. Implement mitigation tools
Once you’ve assessed those risks, you can set up measures to mitigate them with workflows, alerts and tasks.
7. Review your project
This step is often overlooked in legal project management, because all the users are anxious to get started with the new software. Instead, take the time to sit down with stakeholders and share the successes and setbacks.
In order to make the most of your legal software investment, it’s important to revisit these steps once the initial implementation is complete. You may have to go back to some steps as you decide to scale up or add domains or data points.