Four Signs You’re Outgrowing Your Legal Tech Stack (& What to Do About it)
As today’s legal teams are being faced with the challenge of strategic investment – time, money, focus, etc. – can technology help fill in the gaps?
Too often, legal teams think that growing – in both employee count and function – is the only situation that necessitates a tech stack upgrade. But here’s the reality: as more of today’s legal professionals are forced to do more with less, strategically selecting the right technology can help fill in the gaps, allowing your team to put energy where it matters most– pushing the business forward.
No organization is immune to the current macro environment; cost-cutting, budget constraints, and industry layoffs are ever-prevalent. Still, as a leader in your enterprise, you have control over how you help your team prepare. With the right technology, time-consuming, repetitive tasks can be replaced with self-service workflows, helping your departments focus less on admin tasks and more on high-value work. Beyond simply growing in size, here are four signs that may indicate it’s time for a strategic legal tech stack upgrade:
Your processes are becoming too complicated
As legal ops professionals work quickly to adapt their processes and strategically tackle admin work using fewer resources, it can often feel like they have stumbled into the middle of a Rube Goldberg invention. In other words, things feel more complicated than they need to be. “What do you mean, I need to email so-and-so, in order for them to email so-and-so, in order for X to check off Y, just to learn that the Sharepoint site requires additional permissions before the NDA goes through?” Processes that once made sense now feel clunky and cumbersome. And with more important initiatives to focus on, the background tasks need to be running smoothly.
Take the topic of churn rate, for example. When process lives with people instead of technology, turnover creates both knowledge and process gaps. And when technology is implemented in a stopgap manner, processes become knotted and tough to untangle. Instead of being able to see the process through to the end, like looking through a clear lens, the various stopgap technologies and circuitous paths to approval shroud the process in mystery. Workflow automation can not only help streamline processes, but also creates a digital audit trail of knowledge for limitless visibility.
Your spreadsheets are becoming less reliable
When the needs of your team evolve and more cross-departmental collaboration is needed, a spreadsheet once considered a “single source of truth” can become riddled with errors. Multiple people having access to the excel spreadsheet where you track matters, claims, NDAs — you name it— can cause duplicates and outdated information to become ubiquitous. Setting up permissions around access to mission-critical data is critical, but it is not the whole story.
When a team has a spreadsheet that they constantly pass around with new information or additional line items, the ability to audit the information accurately is diminished, the integrity of the data declines, and, quite simply, it’s a huge pain to keep track of for the team. And to that end, when your spreadsheets are less reliable, it’s a sign that you might want to move away from the spreadsheet and toward a contract lifecycle management system.
By starting fresh with a system that automatically formats your data, has a history of every change made over time, and is permissioned such that the right people have access (but only when they need access), your data becomes much more reliable. The result? Your team can mitigate risk and ease your workload.
Critical information is spread out and duplicated over multiple systems in your legal tech stack
Related to #2, a team that relies on overlapping systems deals with issues such as data duplication, which can lead to errors and inefficiencies. When a young legal team gets its start, it’s not uncommon to find niche solutions for every process, but as the number of requests grows and team members become busy, having an eclectic mix of solutions from different vendors can become challenging. If they are not integrated with each other, data sets that depend on each other can become cut off from each other. Updates to one system fail to update the other systems where relevant data is stored.
The more systems you have competing to hold data, the higher the likelihood of errors and miscommunication between systems. When your team has a critical mass of systems that are not talking to each other, it’s time to reassess your solution and vendor set up, and start looking for a vendor or solution that can cover all of your needs, or offers integrations so that all of your systems are perfectly in sync.
You get inundated with basic requests from Sales
As legal and sales work hand in hand, it should always be a partnership. Yet, most legal teams don’t yet have a single portal for sales teams to go with questions — or buttons built into Salesforce that enable easy, templatized requests, for that matter — which means they can get overwhelmed with simple requests from Sales. Examples may include requests for contracts, requests for third-party reviews, FAQs, or requests for answers to questions not covered in the FAQ.
When Legal teams are inundated with these requests, they can get bogged down in emails that could easily be automated or templatized, taking their time away from higher-value work. A strategic legal team will often offer a Legal Portal for Sales to address high volume, low complexity questions, saving both parties time and headache.
How to Stay One Step Ahead of Outgrowing Your Legal Tech Stack
A recent Forbes article makes the point clearly: “Don’t try to save money by solving problems with a “quick and easy” in-house fix.” The quick and easy fixes are likely what got your team tangled up in processes in the first place. When your team’s needs are evolving, it’s essential that your foundational platform is strong enough to offload tedious admin work and optimize time and cost savings.
When you are solving for an outgrown tech stack, it is critical that you change your mindset from the one that got you to the outgrown tech stack. This means thinking one step ahead; a point-and-click solution that perfectly solves one problem in the moment may one day become bulky and complicated as your needs change. Not to mention, having an individual solution to every challenge costs more money down the road than having a centralized solution.
In order to overcome the challenges of an overgrown legal tech stack, teams stop looking for single solutions to tackle systemic challenges. Instead, they go right to the source: they look for either:
- A robust platform solution that can keep all information in one place, and gathers this data through an interface, not a spreadsheet, so it can’t get corrupted
- A blue chip vendor that offers the needed platform or solution, and will also be along for the ride as the legal team grows.
Today’s legal teams are being faced with the challenge of strategic investment – time, money, focus, etc. And challenging times call for creative solutions. While new technology may feel like a “nice to have” right now, it’s actually a critical way to ensure your team has the tools to do more with less, serving you both now and in the future.