A lot of technology is bought and sold based on how many features it has.
Vendors are certainly responsible for a lot of marketing, emphasising all their features while simultaneously claiming that their solution is incredibly simple and intuitive.
Buyers, especially those going through formal procurement processes with RFPs, massively overcomplicate things by including spreadsheets with tens, if not hundreds, of requirements.
At some point, everyone loses sight of two of the most important things:
- the overall outcome that the organisation is trying to achieve
- the needs of the poor people who will be expected to actually use the solution
There is no point in having 200 features if they don’t help the organisation to get whatever outcomes were expected when the decision was made to get the new solution.
And there’s no point in having 200 features if the staff using the system only use 10 of them.
In one RFP process led by IT and procurement, I asked what business processes the solution was going to be used on. The response was, “We don’t know. We’re choosing the best solution, and then we’ll work out which processes we use it on.” I think they chose the wrong solution for what they really needed, and several years on are still not getting the required results.
If you’re a lawyer looking at options for how technology can improve the outcomes for your legal team and wider organisation, it’s a lot easier and more productive if you can focus on describing the problem or opportunity and what outcomes you’d ideally like to achieve for yourself, your team, and your organisation. Quantify this as much as possible, as it will help you work out what is really important, how you will measure and demonstrate success, and how much you should be willing to pay for a solution.
There are lots of different ways you can improve a process. 50% of the gains may be straightforward to achieve at low cost, while others may be harder and more expensive. It might require only one system or the integration of several systems (existing and new). Only part of the solution may be technology, with other improvements needed in training, collaboration between teams, and more people.
Every situation is different, but if you explain the problem clearly enough, the technology experts should be able to give you several options for addressing it at different scopes and price points. Because you’ll know what outcomes need to be met and how much they are worth to solve, you’ll more easily be able to tell which options will work for you and avoid getting sucked down into the weeds discussing shiny features that aren’t relevant to your situation.
LawHawk is a legal operations consultancy. We help our customers to improve and automate their legal processes. We work with a variety of technologies, from those you already have like M365 through to advanced integrated solutions that we can deliver alongside trusted partners. In everything we do, our key focus is to understand the required outcomes and what will work in practice, and have those guide our decisions throughout the project.