Confessions of an Operations Guru Turned Legal Ops Novice, Part 10:
Your Legal Operations Software Implementation Cheat Sheet
Over the course of this series, we’ve covered many of the benefits of utilizing matter management and contract management, have created guides for how to navigate different elements of your implementation process, and today, we’ll be summarizing everything we’ve gone over to create a one-stop shop for your legal operations software implementation needs. To do this, we’re breaking up the implementation into four phases: Prep, Plan, (Don’t) Panic, and Prevail.
Prepare for your implementation by building an implementation team that can help you look at the software from the perspective of as many users as possible. Each position often as different needs, so finding the people that can speak to those needs well is important.
Having a set group on your implementation team helps you navigate some of the potential “human roadblocks” you might encounter as well. You can read more about navigating these roadblocks in Part 7 of our series “Overcoming implementation Roadblocks: Setbacks aren’t so Scary.”
Another thing you’ll want to do during the prep phase is think through your pain points. Review the reasons you wanted to purchase software in the first place. Consider the things that make your work day harder, keep you at work late, or are just a pain in the you know what. Make a list to present to your vendor implementation team.
Request intake, fields, and communication
One of the most frequent pain points our new customers name, and where we often start implementation planning, is the intake process. Most of our new customers are receiving contract requests and sending legal advice through email requests. If this is you, you’re in the majority! But there is hope for a better way.
Start planning by thinking through what work you want to do in the tool. What contracts do you want to be able to create and track? What kinds of matters do you want to manage?
Then, think about who needs to be able to request each of those kinds of work. If it’s ever someone outside the legal team who doesn’t have access to the system, flag the matter. You’ll want to ensure there’s a easy-fill form for them to complete in order to request that matter/contract.
You’ll also want to think through the information you will need to collect in order to be able to execute the requests, so jot down the details to start tracking what fields you need in your tool.
Check out Part 2 of the series “Team Coordination and Communication – Getting Down to Basics.”
In addition to the fields you need to complete your requests, think through what you’d like to pull reports on. Reports can only be pulled from data that exists in your software, so set yourself up for success by making sure you add the necessary fields for your desired reports. And, you can think which of these can be auto-populated by selections from other fields so there’s less training/administrative burden on those inputting the requests.
We’ve been over workflows a number of times on this blog, so for today, I recommend doing two things:
- Write down all the steps you typically go through to complete a specific contract/matter/task
- Think about decision points:
- Ex: Does a contract have to go to finance for approval if it’s more than $5,000? That’s a decision point – one that can be taken off the attorney through automation.
- Ex: Does a contract have a special review process? Perhaps, but it depends on a large variety of factors. This is a decision point that requires a human decision.
You can access Part 4 of this blog series here or watch our “Creating Efficient Processes” webinar here. This webinar covers a lot of great recommendations for generating buy-in through new process creation.
You can also reach back further in the vault for other resources on workflows:
I’ve shared before: document templates typically come as a surprise drain on a new customer’s time. Prepare for success by thinking through which types of templates you want in your system, considering which parts of the document should auto-populate, and planning a standardized format early. Learn more in Part 6 of this series, “3 Tips for Setting up Contract Templates.”
You’ve made it through prep and planning and you’re now working with the vendor on the build. You should expect them to help you review what you’ve planned thus far and elaborate on it/fill in the details. A few things that we cover in implementations are:
- Consulting Meetings (we walk you through the design and build to resolve your pain points)
- Workflow design/collaboration
- Field/screen design
- Document template set-up
- Much more…(executed contract alerts, approval language, etc.)
Once your software is built, you’ll move on to the User Acceptance Testing period. If you’re anything like me, this is a new term now that you’re in the software implementation world. Think of this phase like beta-testing your new product. You want to make sure it works in the real world of your business. Check out Part 8 of this series, “Why User Acceptance Testing Matters to Clients” to get an in-depth look at this stage.
Now that you know your software is set up for success, you can train your users. I like to think of training as a three-prong approach:
- Vendor Training Programs
- Recruit Power Users
- Set Office Hours
You can read about the details of these steps in Part 9 of this series.
Once you’ve gotten your users in a rhythm and your software is running smoothly, I recommend planning a bi-annual or annual review. Sometimes, business changes and needs change, and it’s important that you adapt to those needs so that the tool continues to do the work you need. By checking in occasionally and making sure that new pain points aren’t arising and being left untended, you keep your department efficient and your investment growing.
Watch the recording of our webinar: “Streamlining Your Implementation: Prep, Plan, (Don’t) Panic, Prevail.”