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A 3-step plan to building your legal technology roadmap

Forward-thinking corporate legal departments often credit a purposeful use of technology as being a critical factor in increasing efficiency, reducing risk, and being more effective. Leveraging legal technology not only helps legal teams work smarter, but also helps them demonstrate value to the wider organization. 

The 2019 Thomson Reuters Legal Department Operations survey demonstrated that many corporate legal departments acknowledged the benefits of adopting legal technology: 70% of respondents identified the use of legal technology to simplify processes as a high priority, while 51% actually increased the quantity of legal technology tools used in the last 12 months.

Although there is strong appreciation for the importance and benefits of legal technology, in-house barriers to adoption still remain. For many organizations, adopting new legal technologies can be perplexing. However, adopting a legal technology roadmap can assist in addressing your department’s priorities in a strategic way, ensuring the benefits gained are lasting.

Typically, technology roadmaps outline the specifics on how technology can address legal department strategic needs and priorities over a 3-year period.  But how do you begin to build a roadmap?

1. Identify your priorities and challenges

First, map out the key strategic priorities for your legal department. The 2020 State of Corporate Law Departments: Effectiveness, Efficiency & Expanding the Guardian Role identified 3 strategic priorities that corporate law department leaders have cited and are focused on for the coming year:

  • Improving functional effectiveness
  • Increasing efficiency
  • Safeguarding the company

Many companies often press their legal departments to do more with less, without compromising on quality. Workloads and demands for legal services are increasing, while resources are not. Of course, each organization and each corporate department is different, so work with your team and other stakeholders that regularly interact with legal to identify the biggest pain points and challenges.

2. Map your current processes

Once you have identified your strategic priorities and challenges, it’s time to analyze your current processes and determine how they can be improved, both through process optimization and smart use of technology. Remember, too, that technology is merely an enabler, not a solution in its own right. Technology applied to bad or inefficient process still results in a bad or inefficient process. 

Working with key stakeholders, start by listing out current systems and processes used by the legal department and identify the legal team’s responsibilities and most common business requests. Look specifically at processes and tasks that are high cost, difficult, time consuming, high volume, low value, or repetitive. Identifying these means identifying where process re-engineering or new technology may be required. 

As you go deeper and map processes that may indicate a need for new technology, it is critical that you record benchmarking metrics to better and more accurately define your requirements and measure success along the way.

3. Plan for implementation and/or procure a solution

Your roadmap does not always have to lead to the addition of new technology. Some systems and processes may need to be updated or optimized through simple business changes or even by leveraging technology already in use in the law department.

If you do decide that new technology is required, work closely with your IT and procurement teams to choose a solution that addresses your most pressing problems and challenges. As with any digital transformation project, start with the smaller, more manageable issues to deliver quick wins and build momentum for future success. 

Anchor any business case that you build in outcomes by demonstrating how your chosen technology solution will help deliver value to the organization. Choose technologies that can affect the bottom line by delivering cost savings as well as freeing up time for Legal to spend on matters that add true value to the organization. Be sure to report these savings and then re-allocate to procure additional technologies or resources for the next priority on your roadmap.

With a legal technology roadmap in place, your legal department is able to address specific challenges and act strategically. By mapping your priorities and aligning them with technology and process improvement initiatives, your legal department will not only ultimately work more effectively and efficiently but will also demonstrate its true significant value to the wider business.

To learn more about why your department needs a roadmap, how to prioritize your needs to build a roadmap, the risks of not having one, and where to get started, download our complimentary white paper.

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