Digital transformation in legal comes down to supporting your in-house team’s long-term success. Keep the team motivated and focused on pursuing excellence.
Digital transformation in legal requires a significant paradigm shift. General counsel, in-house legal departments, and contract teams are not immune to the need for digital transformation, which only continues to take hold of all aspects of both consumer and corporate life.
While it’s clearly time to embrace the change, this is easier said than done. Below, I’ll share five key considerations businesses should keep in mind in order to make the transition into digital transformation more seamless and successful.
1. Choose Out-of-the-Box Technology
It’s important to avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. When thinking about digital transformation in legal, too many people are immediately drawn to the idea of custom-coded projects. Whether it’s a legal artificial intelligence system or a specialized application, customization invariably delays projects, adds costs, and even increases the risk of failure.
Upon choosing a legal technology product, it’s advantageous to select a solution that works out-of-the-box (OOTB). It’s more beneficial to learn the capabilities of an OOTB digital system, and then configure and adapt it to your own business needs. In many cases, businesses discover that the initial inclination to customize was simply not required. Most of the time, an OOTB digital product provides for all user needs without incurring additional costs, deployment time, and headaches.
2. Work Toward Incremental Change
Change management is not always easy. Digital technologies can bring a significant improvement in cost effectiveness to many traditional functions, but changes should be made progressively. This allows for lessons to be learned along the way, as well as time for company culture to adapt.
It’s essential for digital transformation to occur with a sound strategy and step-by-step approach that doesn’t leave employees behind. In fact, employees are the most important aspect of ensuring the change takes root. In this light, adjusting corporate culture is among the greatest challenges, but can be achieved with internal champions.
3. Identify Internal Champions
Digital transformation can gain momentum in an organization through user adoption. True of any initiative, such as bringing on new legal services, machine learning analytics, or new contract management technology, an industry best practice is to appoint user or product champions.
Champions are well recognized employees who are respected internally and understand the existing systems and standard processes used by the organization. They also become the voice of any new initiatives and share the benefits within employee groups and legal teams.
Cultivating champions is important as they become key drivers of behavior change. Through their influence, respect and ground-floor knowledge, they help adapt the organization and culture so that embracing digital becomes less of a stress and burden. Rather, with the help of champions, it becomes an opportunity for success.
4. Focus on Business Outcomes
Don’t get trapped in the details of features and functionality with a new digital system. Instead, keep conversation focused on the business outcomes that your team and company set out to achieve. For example, with a new contract management system, first focus on the analytics. Then, set a goal for the next executive meeting where the legal contracts team will run a discovery phase. Finally, provide the general counsel with a report with statistics about your typical contract financial expectations.
5. Set Realistic Benchmarks
Although it’s tempting, avoid setting excessively ambitious targets. Setting the bar too high will only demoralize your team. Instead, think through what is reasonably expected within the next six, twelve and even twenty-four months. Engender a willingness to experiment and do so by being open to forgiving the occasional miss on targets. It’s important to remember that digital transformation in legal is as much about shifting the cultural mindset as it is introducing new processes, ways of working, and new technology systems. Striking a balance of setting realistic yet aggressive ROI goals and KPI targets is essential.
Ultimately, digital transformation in legal comes down to supporting your in-house team’s long-term success. Keep the team motivated and focused on pursuing excellence. Digital transformation is all about a shift in mindset, motivating a goal-oriented team and building a culture of success.