Part 1: Enterprise Legal Management Solution Purchasing: Tools to get from Project to Go-Live

by Jeff Skott

You are the head of Law Department Operations (LDO), a Lean or Six Sigma Process Expert or managing litigation for a Property & Casualty (P & C) carrier, and you are looking to control legal costs, reduce risk, and better align yourself with organizational goals. You’ve met with consultants, law firms and peers and now you know what you need to do – you need to deploy an Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) solution – a system that fits your organization’s personality and objectives, and won’t break the bank. Further, you need to satisfy your ROI target, select an easy to use system, and it needs to be vetted by multiple stakeholders: IT, Legal, Finance, Risk, etc., and it’s all on your shoulders. What do you do?

Since 1999, when I first touched down in this ever-changing world of Legal Management solutions, your job in selecting these tools has become harder. The upside is that you have more choices, more capabilities than ever before. And, there exist more processes and tools for analyzing the best solutions; making you and your project team look like the rock stars you are when you choose the best one (in my opinion, there’s a good chance that would be LexisNexis CounselLink!).

Here are four points to remember, some tools and hints and a simple approach finding the best system conforming to your Department’s needs.

First, surround yourself with the right project team. You need the various constituencies represented who will be affected by your choice, and you need an executive sponsor on board who can push internal barriers out of the way, green-light the project and make sure you have a clear path from decision to contract.

Get an effective team, if anything for delegation, support and consensus building.

Second, with your project team, define your objectives. What do you really want to get out of your ELM solution? Legal Spend Management? Matter Management? Legal Hold? Is robust Reporting key? What about Billing Rate (and other) Benchmarking? Document Management? Prioritize your objectives and let these objectives help you determine if a particular application(s) make sense for your organization. Start with the end in mind, define your roadmap to your destination.

Third, and don’t wait on this, get your budget request in as soon as possible. I’ve seen projects held up for month (even years) because while a finalist was selected, budget had not been approved. Act now – submit and get budget approval. Check with peers, consultants and even the vendors on min/max figures to use for budgeting. Don’t forget to include professional services required, whether from the vendor, a third party, or even internal teams which may charge back to your project.

Great, you have your process down, a project team defined with objectives agreed and a budget in place. In the next half of this two-part series, we will investigate the tools you can use to identify vendors and assess them according to you Department’s objectives. Cheers!