The key questions to measure the technological maturity of your legal team

This article originally appeared in Legal Dive.

As your company’s legal department navigates this era of economic uncertainty, assessing your team’s technology readiness should be high on your priority list.

Cutting-edge technology can help you reduce costs, make better strategic decisions, and generate value for your organization when it’s needed most.

But how do you measure whether your department is technologically mature? It is not enough to take an inventory of your tools, assess their age and monitor their use.

You need to dig and analyze the capabilities of your solutions to see if they meet your needs. If not, maybe it’s time to become more mature.

Here are four questions you might not have thought to ask to measure the technology readiness of your legal team.

How you answer these questions will determine your level of maturity and help you start planning the next steps in your technology journey.

1. Does your technology help you prioritize and manage risk?

Every legal matter, no matter how simple or complex, carries some degree of risk to your business.

Cost and budget overruns are significant risks that can seriously affect your organization and the position of your legal department within the company. You literally can’t afford to go into things blind.

You can mitigate this challenge by focusing your efforts on key areas of risk to your business. Your technology should be able to help you.

Today’s legal tools can provide transparency so you can understand if the work done by your in-house legal team and outside attorneys is commensurate with the level of risk in your business.

This helps your legal department protect your organization from excessive or unnecessary costs and bring greater value to your business.

2. Do you regularly solicit and evaluate feedback on the performance of your technology and compare it to your goals?

Legal technology should be a long-term investment that grows and evolves with the needs of your organization.

If your technology isn’t meeting these needs, it might be time to reassess its value to your organization.

One of the best ways to gauge whether your technology investments are generating value is to regularly solicit feedback from the people who use the tools.

Technology users can tell you if a solution is working well and meeting their needs or not helping them achieve their goals.

A good rule of thumb is to perform these assessments annually.

Assessments should be viewed in the context of your business goals and compared to your roadmap to ensure your plans still make sense.

Assessments also allow you to address lagging performance issues before they start dragging your organization down.

3. Do you have a systematic and well-defined approach to change management?

How you manage the introduction of new technologies into your legal department can make or break technology adoption and effectiveness.

If users aren’t comfortable with the technology before it’s introduced or don’t understand its benefits, usage will likely be low and your investment won’t pay off.

The most technologically mature legal departments have systematic and well-defined approaches to managing technological change.

They have a plan in place and every time new tools are introduced they execute that plan to the letter, the same way every time.

They train users on the technology and ask for their feedback, communicate the benefits early and often, and continue to help team members become familiar with the tools long after initial deployment.

A change management plan signals that organizations understand how to manage and communicate change. These organizations are more likely to successfully adopt and take advantage of new technologies.

4. Does your technology track diversity data?

Working with diverse outside attorneys brings new perspectives, ideas, and better results. It is therefore essential to measure the diversity of your law firms.

Advanced legal technology contains diversity modules that automatically track diversity data from legal service providers.

They make it easy to see if companies are assigning diverse teams to your business, are diverse in their timekeeping roles, and if they are committed to promoting and hiring diverse staff.

With this data in hand, you can take action and have proactive discussions with outside attorneys to ensure your law firms are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).

Final Thoughts

As the winds of economic change continue to blow, use this time as an opportunity to reflect on where your corporate legal department stands on the technology readiness scale and adjust as necessary.

The right technology can help your team reduce expenses, gain efficiencies, and drive better business value.

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