#2 in the new Blog Series: How to Evaluate Legal Operations Solutions

Evaluating Legal Ops Solutions: 2nd, Ask Questions

You may remember that, in the first installment of this series, we suggested that you assemble a high-functioning team, establish priorities, and make a checklist. Having done that, you’re ready to begin the search for your solution.

Following are questions that will help you evaluate providers, but let’s start with one question you must ask yourself and your team – as we hinted before, “the most important question you might not think to ask.”

Here it is: What will a successful legal department solution look like? How will it function and what will be the outcomes? Think it over carefully with your team, and you’ll be ready to ask ELM system vendors exactly how they will help make that success happen.

ask questions

Begin with goals and challenges
It’s important that the provider you select understands your goals and challenges. To uncover this info, these are among the questions you might address to the candidates:

  • How would your ELM system help my organization be more efficient and productive?
  • What makes your software unique?
  • How does your platform help us search and report on legal matters?

Follow the money
Ask clear questions about costs and potential extra fees:

  • What is the price or price range?
  • What is included?
  • What are the typical add-ons?
  • What would be the total cost of ownership?

Dive deep into specifics
Reveal everything you need to make an informed buying decision:

  • Which reports are included?
  • How much extra will it cost for a custom report?
  • Can you import our current historical data?
  • Are all matter documents accessible on any web-enabled device?
  • What are the costs for custom integration with other software we use?

 Explore implementation
Ask for details on solution implementation:

  • What is your implementation model or method?
  • Will we need a dedicated consultant?
  • Will your ELM system tax the resources of our IT group?
  • How long does an implementation for our corporation size typically run?

Address security
Assume nothing, and probe deeply to understand their security and privacy protocols:

  • How secure is your SaaS solution?
  • Exactly which security measures do you use?
  • Is data stored in a physical location or on virtual servers?
  • Will our data have its own instance?

Evaluate support
Elicit a clear picture of how you and your outside vendors will be supported:

  • How does your support work?
  • Who handles the training of our team and our outside vendors?
  • Can you show how your client support responds quickly and effectively?

What to expect
Ask probing questions about the vendor’s solution throughout the business relationship:

  • Which capabilities make your ELM system unique?
  • Which of your system’s features and functions outperform the competition?
  • What is the most compelling reason to adopt your solution?

Go beyond the FAQs
Besides asking incisive questions, you might also try:

  • Asking more open-ended, probing questions that invite dialog.
  • Focusing on getting to the heart of what will meet your company-wide needs.
  • Refining questions to focus on issues most important to your legal department.

The next step: setting the stage
By the time you have an answer to the question, “What is the most compelling reason to adopt your solution?” you may be ready to consider a live demo. But first, we will discuss how to gauge your needs in our next post, “Evaluating the need for change.”

While every firm’s checklist will vary, yours should look something like this:

  1. Assemble the team (Read this post)
    Start a conversation with leaders in every business unit that touches yours, and, if appropriate, invite them to be part of your evaluation team.
  2. Ask incisive questions (This blog post!)
    Get to the heart of the business issue and identify a quantifiable goal.
  1. Evaluate the need
    Consider whether the need is great enough to commit your collective resources.
  2. Set goals
    Look at quantifiable goals for short-term (now through the next year) and longer-term (through the next 3-5 years) time periods.
  3. Watch for deal breakers
    Discuss what, if anything, would jeopardize a decision.
  4. Gather evidence
    Encourage members who are not part of your own unit to share challenges they face in theirs and what they’re doing to overcome them.
  5. Follow best practices
    It’s quite possible that examples of what other teams have done will include a formal or informal list of best practices – or at least some insights for creating that list.

Going forward…

By the time you’ve completed your checklist, you’ll be ready to evaluate software firms about how effectively they can provide the solution that meets your needs.

In our next post, you’ll find a list of questions that you can use or adapt for your company, along with “the most important question you might not think to ask.”