The Complex Buying Process (Part II)

Last month, I explained how buying legal technology is a complex process – and to follow this process, aligning stakeholders and gaining management support are essential.

I explained how understanding the tactical, strategic, political, and personal needs of each stakeholder can help someone navigate an organization to understand how to align stakeholders and gain management support.

This month, I’ll cover the journey from signing the contract for a solution to successful implementation that leads to the desired benefits and positive outcomes.

You have just spent the past six months networking and working to understand the needs and motivations of your key stakeholders. You have met with several technology solution providers and the organization has just agreed on the solution you want to deploy. The contract is signed and you celebrate the milestone because it is indeed a major achievement! Now what comes next?

Signing the contract is an important step, but it is not the end of the process

First, let me talk to technology solution providers, vendors, and vendors. Selling a solution is a big step, but the sale isn’t complete until the technology is live and your customer sees the results. Payment may be received from the customer, but a failed implementation hurts the customer, kills renewal, and impacts reputation and future sales.

before signing

How can you ensure a successful implementation of a technology solution you have just purchased? To be successful, stakeholder alignment and leadership sponsorship in this process will go a long way.

Before signing the contract, a solid implementation plan should be considered. Many vendors will quote an approximate multiple of the software license as the implementation cost. It’s a good start, but you shouldn’t sign on without at least a high-level project plan that includes general timelines, expected roles, and an understanding of how you intend to handle cost overruns. .

A tool that can help with a project plan is to identify who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed during the project. It’s called a RACI chart and it can help manage stakeholder expectations and alignment after the sale.

These steps are very important for the successful implementation of your new technology solution. Ideally they should be part of your stakeholder alignment and executive leadership activities before signing a contract.

A strong technology solutions provider will understand this and help you through this process.

The importance of change management

There is another thing to consider before signing, and that is change management. Implementing a solution and realizing the benefits you desire is the price, but managing change is the difference between implementation and success with a solution.

Have you ever heard of “racking”? It’s an older term that refers to software purchased but never actually used. No one wants their project to end up as shelfware.

Technology is only one piece of the puzzle. A complete and successful solution includes the people, processes, technology and data that are used in the solution.

Bring it all together

You’ve done your homework on technology. You have selected the right partner(s). You have aligned stakeholders and executive sponsorship. You have an implementation plan that includes project roles in a RACI table, and you have a plan to mitigate risk if the project goes over time or over budget.

Making sure you have identified training plans, communication plans, and even staffing plans as part of the change management process can mean the difference between success and failure for your initiative. Consider these things as part of the project approval process before signing contracts is essential.

There may be hiring or retraining of staff required from year to year. Make sure HR and management are committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure you have a plan for the people side of your project. Retraining and process changes may also need to be coordinated. This is one of the areas you want to make sure executive leadership leans on.

It is also important to be aware of the risks that stakeholders may have, including the personal side. If a group starts to get cold feet because the project isn’t producing the expected benefits, you may end up with detractors along the way who can hinder success. The more you consider these types of factors upfront, the more likely your efforts will be to succeed.

Finally, more and more often, systems are based on data. Garbage in equals garbage out: so if you don’t have good data to start with, a new solution may just automate and allow your organization to make bad decisions faster, and that’s not good. If your solution relies heavily on data, make sure the data is clean enough for the intended purpose. If your solution relies on accurate time tracking, make sure you have plans to ensure time is accurately captured and accounted for. If your solution relies on accurate data extracted from contracts, make sure the AI ​​extraction has a human component and that you measure accuracy. You get the idea here.

You are now ready to sign

Whether you’re the economic buyer putting your reputation on the line, the leader of your software evaluation team, or even the software vendor chosen as the technology solution provider for your new client, it’s important to plan for success from the start. .

Success requires the right technology solution and strong partners. This requires leadership sponsorship and stakeholder alignment. Implementation plans should be designed from the outset with clear roles outlining who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. And change management must be considered to ensure that people, processes and data are aligned so that your solution delivers the results you expect.

Next month, I’ll walk you through how to manage your upcoming implementation!

Portrait of Ken CrutchfieldKen Crutchfield is vice president and general manager of legal markets at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory US, a leading provider of legal information, business intelligence, regulatory and workflow solutions. Ken has over three decades of experience as a leader in IT and software solutions across industries. He can be reached at [email protected].

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