Five projects where it makes sense to bring in project management

This is the third and final part of our series, Preparing for the Future: What Corporate Counsel Need to Know About Change Management. The first two parts explored five best practices in change management and five questions to ask a change manager.

Remember: You’re not in this alone. In-house teams can partner with legal project management and change management professionals who are well-versed in successful transition management. Larger legal department projects like these are especially well-suited for support from project management professionals.

  1. Technology rollouts. With the surge in e-billing and compliance and matter management software, alongside the increasing use of social media and mobile devices, it’s not a matter of if but when corporate legal teams will incorporate emerging technologies into their practices. Implementing new technologies and managing the related legal and regulatory risks amounts to massive overhauls, where change management will be vital.
  2. Large-scale outside counsel convergences and right-sizing initiatives. More and more, corporate legal departments are charged with determining where and how corporate counsel are spending time and re-distributing work to the appropriate levels. As in-house teams parcel out matters and assign certain legal matters to more junior lawyers, build knowledge management tools and repositories, and use task-based legal resource tools, change management professionals can lend their expertise in dealing with significant shifts in how a department works.
  3. Creating a metrics-driven culture. The upside for becoming a more KPI-driven legal department is that reliable data and analytics allows corporate legal teams to continuously monitor and evaluate progress against goals, operate more efficiently and more quickly adjust priorities to respond to changing business needs. The downside is data analysis can be complex and involve implementing major technology components. Partnering with change management professionals can help in-house teams navigate all of these changes to fully realize the benefits of using metrics, whether for tracking external legal spend or allocating work, and help ensure adoption of the new processes by all legal team members.
  4. Driving stronger efficiency and moving away from “manual.” Implementing legal project management to automate manual processes means in-house teams can devote more of their time to providing business partners with strategic advice and counsel. For example, adopting contract management software can help address a major challenge for in-house legal departments. But, as with becoming a more data-driven organization, reluctance to forge ahead into new technologies may keep lawyers from realizing the benefits of automation; support from change management professionals can help navigate this transition.
  5. Working globally. Whether it’s incorporating a legal department from an acquisition or starting a legal department overseas, considering local and regional cultural differences is key to effectively implementing change. Sometimes, a change process may need to be handled uniquely in different regions or countries to accommodate local preferences; implementing a tailored approach – instead of a one-size-fits-all solution – is a tough task that change management professionals have most likely encountered before. Leverage their experience instead of re-creating the wheel.