Marie Widmer: Buying legal technology is all about mastering the RFP. When purchasing legal tech, you should also be planning for change management. Knowing how to gain user adoption and prove the ROI is crucial. It's not just about getting buy-in, purchasing the tool, and figuring it out afterwards. You need to have all three issues solved in the beginning.
Understanding the RFP is really broken down into three categories:
- Why do you need to buy tech?
Many people rush to buy technology because they feel pressured by the fear of missing out. However, it's important to ask yourself whether you actually need to make that purchase or if there is a manual process that could accomplish the same task. Consider cleaning up your current system before making a decision to buy new technology.
- What is the cost of buying tech?
When I refer to "cost", I am not only referring to the dollar amount specified in the contract. I am also referring to the impact on the timeline and resources, and the burden it will place on stakeholders. For example, will you need to utilize engineering resources within your company? Will you need additional headcount to assist with tool intake, such as CLM? Additionally, who will be responsible for building your repository?
- Do you have time to put in the manual hours?
There are many layers to consider when it comes to the cost of implementing technology. You must also evaluate what you expect to achieve from implementing technology. Is the return on investment (ROI) worth the expense at this time?
Perhaps your company is at a stage where you are too small to make this decision. Alternatively, maybe your team is too new and fragile, or you do not have the budget or headcount to withstand the burden of implementing technology.
Charlotte Smith: To add a personal touch, it's important to ask your users what will help them and what their learning experiences are like. Getting to know your users is crucial.
Marie Widmer: I made the mistake early in my legal ops career of rolling out a solution based on what I thought people wanted and what I thought my team would benefit from. However, I soon realized that they didn't want the same things.
It's a difficult lesson to learn, but it's one you must consider. Are you actually providing a benefit to your users, or are you just focused on your own interests?
What to Do After Buying a Legal Tech Tool
- Acknowledge and Validate Customer Experiences
I've been in situations where I kept lying to myself, thinking things would keep working out. However, I eventually had to face the truth and acknowledge the problem at hand. For example, when no one else wanted to use or buy the product and it wasn't helpful to anyone, I had to validate my own experiences and frustrations. It's important to acknowledge these situations and not necessarily see them as failures, but rather as misaligned intentions.
- Reinvest In Your Foundation
When considering reinvesting in your foundation, it's important to go back to square one and evaluate whether you need to address any gaps in your current infrastructure. For example, suppose you're working on a small startup at Dopper Labs and you're using a disorganized Google Drive for storing and negotiating documents.
If you have no formal ticketing or intake methodology in place, except for perhaps a rough ticketing tool, it may be tempting to launch directly into a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system with a lean team. However, in hindsight, it may have been more beneficial to first address some of the manual foundation issues, which would have resulted in fewer change management issues in the long run.
- Build Your Best Path Forward
So, start again from the beginning and think about the baby steps you can take. This will reveal to you why the end state didn't work as it should have.