While digital transformation projects are well underway in many corporates, their success, to a large extent, depends on how the organisation responds to the change and to what extent it adopts the new way of working.  Technology transformation and cultural change in mindset, must therefore go hand-in-hand.

To this end, a well thought through change management programme is imperative. We find that often a well-executed change management programme (or lack of) can be the difference between success and failure of such initiatives.  Based on our experience of working with corporates on such initiatives – with information and document lifecycle management forming a key part of transformation programmes – below are some insights and learnings that organisations will do well to consider:

  • Leadership – Change in the organisation must be driven from the top down. Business leaders must be fully on-board and committed to the transformation in a tangible way. So, they must be able to articulate to employees – in addition to the business rationale – the value the new way of working to them as individuals. The employee question, “how will it make my life easier”, must be answered.
  • Recognition of technology needs – Business leaders must make the effort to understand the unique requirements of the specific departments and employees, based on their roles and responsibilities.  The right technology needs to be delivered for the digital and cultural change to happen. For instance, the document management needs of the in-house legal department are different to those of other departments. While for other departments a SharePoint platform may suffice for document management, the legal department needs a best-of-breed system to meet its specific requirements.

Departmental heads must also ‘make their case’ for their IT requirements so that the business invests in technology that suits the needs of all. Otherwise, the technology transformation is likely to be partial or piecemeal. Furthermore, department leaders must recognise that their own technological needs may be different to that of their teams – but the requirements of the latter must be represented. For instance, the way and extent to which the General Counsel (GC) uses a document management system is vastly different to how lawyers use the solution. The former’s role is more strategic while the lawyers are focused on performing cases and so capabilities like email management and Google-like searches in the system are more pertinent to the latter. In technology transformation projects, its imperative that the needs of the lawyers and others are equally represented and delivered against.

  • Long-term view – Major technology transformation projects present the best opportunity to thoroughly review how the business does things, and address how they can be done better, with a long-term view. It is an ideal time to re-evaluate processes so that they are tuned to current, but flexible enough to accommodate future requirements. For instance, for corporates undertaking transformation projects today, understanding what type of information must be captured, in what format, what the approval processes are, how records should be saved and managed, what security and audit procedures should be followed – are all pertinent to GDPR compliance for the foreseeable future.
  • Training – This mustn’t be a one-off activity at the time of ‘go-live’ of the project. Training must be tailored for groups of people based on their roles, and delivered on a regular basis. This will enable a wider and more effective adoption of the technology. Most people use technology systems intuitively, and adopt those features that are of most use to them on a regular basis. However, by training more frequently and in bite-sized sessions, employees are more likely to adopt some of the more advanced features that will vastly improve their efficiency and productivity, which will ultimately reflect in the technology’s ROI to the organisation.
  • Impact on other internal departments and external organisations – Many corporates deploy collaboration sharing platforms, especially in their-inhouse legal departments where this capability is essential for information and sharing with internal departments (HR, Finance, Procurement, Sales etc), law firms and other external legal services providers. Any transformation programme must take into consideration the impact of the project on such third-parties, given that changes in technology could have a significant effect on the level and type of interaction. For instance, access rights, new processes and procedures may require communication to explain the options available and discuss how it may impact on external organisations’ IT infrastructure and the changes that may be required. Giving external partners visibility of the programme is a good idea.

Major IT transformations are the ideal time to drive change in the organisation. Corporates must take a step back and view the requirements of the business holistically to ensure wholehearted adoption by employees of the new way of working. This will only happen if the organisation takes its people along on the transformation journey and delivers technology that enables them to do a better job, effectively and productively. 

In conjunction, with Carillion Plc, Ascertus is hosting a roundtable session on this topic at The Alternative In-house Technology Summit in February 2018. It is the UK’s only event focussed on delivering technology strategy to in-house legal teams. The session will discuss how in-house legal department heads can influence departmental culture, secure lawyer buy-in for new technology adoption and make new ways of working successful. A special delegate price is available for Lexology registrants. Please click here to register for this event.