This article by Tariq Hafeez, LegalEase Solutions, was published on March 15, 2022 on Law.com
Migrating to a new legal technology platform can be a significant step for a company’s in-house evolution. Unfortunately, many teams are flying blind in approaching the platform selection and migration process. To be successful, in-house legal departments should be doing more legwork beyond selecting the solution with the flashiest features and also ensure their migration process is planned properly.
By taking key steps in advance, a team will be better prepared to make more strategic decisions concerning platforms that best fit the company’s overarching strategies. Here are some of the steps in-house legal departments should be taking as they embark on platform selection and migration.
1. Assemble a platform selection team
A successful implementation begins by choosing the right product. Doing that requires assembling a dedicated selection team. It should consist of the general counsel or associate general counsel and stakeholders in IT and finance for establishing technology integration and pricing expectations. Adding a dedicated project manager will help the team develop and meet purchase and migration milestones and deadlines. It’s also helpful to integrate managers and executives from divisions that will use the new product the most. Their feedback will help ensure the chosen feedback meets all of the company’s requirements and pain points.
2. Develop a use case strategy and thoroughly assess potential products
It is easy when shopping around for solutions to be swayed by enticing sales pitches focused on the sizzle rather than the steak. No matter how good a product looks or how extensive its features list is, it will not be worth anything if it does not address the in-house department’s specific problems. This is why it is essential to go into the selection process with a use case strategy developed with input from stakeholders, including the integration team, super users and any other key employees. They can help identify what the product must have to be both worth the spend and gain wide acceptance and adoption. Prioritizing this will then drive decisions around budget and preferred pricing models.
When assessing a potential product against a particular use case, it is also a good idea to go beyond the sales people to gain information. To ask detailed questions that get into the product’s day-to-day functionality, seek out founders and developers. They often have better insights into what a solution can actually accomplish. Consider sending platform selection team members to trade shows such as the recent Legalweek so they can mingle with vendors and developers at their booths. These conversations can offer far more nuanced insights into use cases and even implementation.
3. Review vendor support options
The success of a product within an in-house legal department depends heavily on the quality of vendor support. Unfortunately, no two vendor support plans are the same. Some, for example, offer complementary support for their products for a limited time. Others require paid programs or even insist that customers hire a specialized third-party support provider. This is why it is so important to find out up front what a vendor will offer, but the selection team should not stop there. Any vetting process should also include requesting specific references from a vendor’s sales team to evaluate support and customer success initiatives. Those references should be for customers with similar requirements and company demographics. With these tailored references in hand, the team will have a much better idea of what to expect.
Selecting a solution is just the beginning for a successful implementation. The steps needed to migrate to the new platform, particularly when existing data is involved, can be just as consequential. Essentially, this boils down to two common migration pitfalls: project scoping and assigning customer-vendor migration responsibilities.
First, the team should assess the size of the assets to be migrated, ensure they adequately scope out the project and evaluate the best migration steps. The most common post-migration mistakes arise out of improper scoping. For example, suppose there are 5,000 contracts to migrate to a CLM. While this may not be a considerable number at first glance, the actual migration could be more complex and expensive than anticipated depending on the number of fields within those contracts that need validation, the need for parent-child mapping, and the like. Therefore, a 5,000-contract migration may budget out similarly to a 100,000-contract migration if the team and vendor will need to validate multiple fields and related tasks.
Given this, companies should clearly set out what they expect a vendor’s responsibilities will be in terms of the scope of work involved in migration. Not doing so can lead to problems that arise to implementation failures or even litigation as seen with the recent iCertis lawsuit (https://www.law.com/legaltechnews/2022/02/22/icertis-lawsuit-fallout-how-gcs-can-avoid-clm- implementation-failures/). This should include confirming the scope of the engagement in the context of the migration.
How a company handles the platform selection and integration process internally can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth purchase and integration process. With the right selection team and research steps in place, stakeholders will be able to engage in a productive platform selection process that will set the company up for short and long-term success.
Reprinted with permission from the March 14, 2022 edition of “LegalTech News” © 2022 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. ALMReprints.com – 877-257-3382 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tariq Hafeez is president and co-founder of LegalEase Solutions.