Legal technology is notorious for process gaps, lack of integration and slow user adoption. From cloud-based case and matter management to contract automation and countless other systems intended to improve legal service delivery, enterprise installations can take painfully long periods of time for their value to be realized. Electronic discovery technology is no exception, with successful usage slowed by constant change and the tendency to reinvent the wheel on every new case.
But there is a way to look differently at processes to identify holes as opportunities for innovative solutions. And it’s an effort worth pursuing, because custom tools and solutions help provide the most engaging, accurate and defensible eDiscovery product available. Talented, creative problem-solvers who employ a thoughtful approach to identifying and pursuing innovative ideas can achieve success in improving or augmenting what already works.
Four steps to follow for a successful innovation strategy include identifying the opportunity, developing a balanced solution, engaging in a collaborative rollout and following up effectively.
IDENTIFY THE OPPORTUNITY
One of the first and most difficult things to do is to admit there may be a problem with a process. If the job is getting done, it can be difficult to pinpoint an opportunity for improvement. But just getting it done doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done faster or better.
Areas to evaluate for an already functional activity to determine whether there is room for improvement include:
- People – Is the tool/process understood by only one individual, or is knowledge shared? Is training difficult? Are the right people being leveraged?
- Process – Is there visibility into the project without needing to request updates? What part of the process takes the longest? Is it scalable? Does a checklist or series of QC steps exist to help the process along before introducing tech?
- Technology – Is the company’s latest tech being used? Is there is an extension or option in the software the company owns that can cover a good percentage of the ask? Is there anything on the horizon worth waiting for that can be a good fit?
- Value – Is this improvement worth the investment in time and resources? If other departments are involved, showing a strong ROI will be needed, even if the only thing really required is time and energy. The concluded effort should have a clear tie back to cost savings or profit gains.
Most important, is there consistency in how the process is handled, from project to project or companywide?
Always look for areas for improvement, rather than simply accepting the way things have always been done is still the best way.
DEVELOP A BALANCED SOLUTION
Upon deciding to embark on a process improvement, start by getting input from a community of dedicated and interested parties. Review the entire process to highlight all areas that need to be addressed or automated, setting the highly technical aspects aside at this point.
When creating a new solution, simplicity is key. It is possible to overlook some of the most routine/basic parts of a task because they are exactly that – basic. Who wants to triple-check that something is named correctly when there is a complex task on the horizon? Tools should be smart and simple enough to never forget the essentials. The goal is to use technology to perfect the process and eliminate human error.
Aim for the sky because creativity is essential when building something new. Other solutions can be wrapped in, and a seamless transition or a new era can evolve. Open the room up for discussion and some ideas may come back in later iterations. Just remember to not let the 5% get in the way of a 95% solution.
Present a polished version of requirements to development or software procurement for creation or purchase.
ENGAGE IN A COLLABORATIVE ROLLOUT
Rolling out a new tool is an opportunity to let everyone shine. A successful introduction needs to feel like a company win, not just like a few people created something everyone else is now forced to use.
The first and stable version of the tool needs to be easily accessible and open for critique. Certainly not everything was thought of when sketching out the solution. New angles and perspectives should be welcome, and a forum made available to provide those thoughts. If you can get the first round of critiques out in the next version, new investors in the process will see how their input can have an impact. Watch out for putting in too many steps; simplify and add extras only for nonstandard tasks.
Develop helpful resources, but don’t go overboard – nobody will read a 50-page guide. Host a webinar and record it; it doesn’t need to be perfect, but a short video can go a long way today. Tips and tricks, a good one-pager and a collaborative space like Teams will also help get things started.
FOLLOW UP EFFECTIVELY
Use the program and tool statistics to boost confidence, show popular trends, get overall counts and share success stories. Having a new piece of technology in place will allow for a more in-depth look into the process. Creative and collaborative reporting can keep the tool alive.
Share reported statistics with invested parties and clients. Clients will enjoy a customized experience and trust that internal and external efforts are being used to best service their needs. Not all tools are sexy but can be efficient, using numbers and feedback can promote the success of tools that are not client-facing.
Teach colleagues who are not normally involved in the process how to use it – you might be surprised how many people want to learn something new. And make sure the sales team has seen and used the tool; marketability comes in many forms.
Lastly, don’t let it die! Technology changes can mothball a great tool. If there are passionate owners, there is room for growth as the company or industry shifts.
Even in competitive markets, complacency sets in when everyone is focused on the day-to-day, current projects and deadlines. To establish a culture of innovation, follow these steps to identify, develop and implement new solutions that will position your organization as a leader.