Making Your Legal Technology Stack Stick With Allstate's Olga Castaneda - Mitratech

Making Your Legal Technology Stack Stick With Allstate’s Olga Castaneda

Olga Castaneda, Allstate, On Making Your Legal Technology Stack Stick

Chances are, as a business leader, you can see the inefficiencies in your workplace. When you don’t have the proper legal technology in place, you’re unable to track work and provide clear audit trails, which can leave your business both behind the times and at risk. In this scenario, each employee is left to fend for themselves amidst a world of time-consuming manual processes, outdated technology and, let’s be honest, a little bit of chaos.

The truth is, most leaders don’t want to operate in an environment of chaos. What most leaders really want is to forge a clear, visionary path for their employees to navigate. They want a path clear of tangled, inefficient processes that hold their team – and themselves – back from success.

The good news for everyone is that there is a clear way forward. With the help of a good legal technology investment, companies can streamline processes and innovate to drive towards their vision for a better future. Yet technology is only one piece of the puzzle you need to make your investment stick. The other key factor? Driving user adoption.

To understand how to drive user adoption in legal technology, Mitratech’s Senior VP of Client Success Judith Tigner interviewed Allstate’s Senior Manager of Legal Technology Olga Castaneda at CLOC Institute 2018. As one of the largest insurance providers in the US, Allstate’s legal team may be spread out geographically, but they maintain consistent ways of handling their work. With such a large team, implementing a legal management solution across so many users was pivotal to their success.

During this interview, Tigner and Castaneda discussed Allstate’s implementation of a unified enterprise legal management platform across both their staff council and corporate legal areas. .

According to Castaneda, there are four key elements to a technology implementation that allow companies to fearlessly forge a path to the future and encourage user adoption.

To encourage user adoption of new technology, companies must:

  1. Establish Key Performance Indicators
  2. Plan their communications
  3. Leverage subject matter experts within the business
  4. Have a solid test plan that ensures a problem-free launch

1 – Establish Key Performance Indicators

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is critical to starting an implementation project out right. Having these goals in place keeps the rest of the project on track.

“The hard part about establishing KPIs,” Tigner states, “Is that right out of the gate you may have a very long list of things you want to measure. But sometimes this approach is overly ambitious.”  

The key is to pare this list of success metrics down to a few major drivers. When implementing legal management at Allstate, Castaneda’s team developed KPIs by reviewing leftover data from the system they were working to replace.  

“What we did was focus on what we knew was important to [the legal team] in terms of efficiency, service levels and cost, and make sure they could measure and close any gaps,” Castaneda states.

Ultimately, Castaneda realized, after talking to various legal stakeholders and leadership, the same couple goals kept popping up across the organization. These goals later formed the foundation for their KPIs and the benefits they wanted to drive to users by adopting new legal technology.

“Really, everything was around human service, efficiency and cost,” Castaneda states. “Our KPIs really were meant to track those three things throughout both sides of the house.”

2 – Plan Communications

Whenever a company considers implementing new technology, there are three different categories of people. The first category includes anyone who resists change, who wants things to stay as they are and who is skeptical of benefits promised by the new technology.

On the other side of the spectrum are what Castaneda calls ‘change champions’ – people who advocate strongly for new technology and are excited by the opportunities it promises. The third category falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. These people are not necessarily opposed to change, but they need to understand the benefits of new technology before they jump on board.

In Castaneda’s case, knowing her audience also meant understanding the different motivators and needs of both the corporate legal and staff council teams. Regardless of your audience though, to gain true user acceptance, leadership must buy in at every level. Leaders must be the true change champions.

Once you understand your audience, you can then tailor messaging for the new technology roll-out accordingly.

“First things first, know your audience,” Castaneda states. “If you try to tell someone on the lower side of the change curve it’s going to be an easy thing, they’re not going to buy it. We need to make sure we give them the right message.”

In her experience, Castaneda found more directive messaging that clearly outlines benefits and has leadership buy-in at every level is the most successful approach for implementation teams to encourage user adoption.

She also discussed how different groups not only need different types of messaging, they need different cadences for when messaging is delivered too.

“With our senior leaders,” Castaneda states, “We had to provide a regular status, but not as detailed. We just had to make sure they knew whether the project was on track. That was done periodically to keep people informed.”

However, at the management level and level of the people who would actually use the system – and ask others to use the system – most frequently, Castaneda’s team shared more of their challenges and triumphs along the way.  

“It was key for them to know what affected them and what was going to be applicable to their groups,” Castaneda states.

3 – Leverage Subject Matter Experts Within the Business

For Allstate’s implementation, a handful of project groups oversaw about 15 complexes across different states on the staff council side of the implementation. Each complex had a major subject matter expert. In addition to these major experts, each of the over 80 Allstate offices also had a person designated as a supporting expert.

When determining experts, Castaneda warns, companies should be careful not to have too many cooks in the kitchen. Instead, the implementation team must pare down their experts to a core group that represents the necessary stakeholders.

For the staff council implementation in particular, Castaneda ensured that subject matter experts were people who used the previous (albeit outdated) software. These experts were power users in the system and could recognize the major upgrades offered by the new solution.

“They had heavy involvement in all aspects of the implementation,” Castaneda states. “We had them involved all the way from understanding the KPIs to then being very much involved in terms of the design of use.”

4 – Have a Solid Test Plan

“When you’re talking about making it stick,” Tigner states, “A good testing plan that is thought out from the beginning and run through all the way to the end really helps with that. If you’ve got a good test plan, you know that performance is good, that your data looks clean and that things are working.”

The testing phase provides another opportunity to heavily involve subject matter experts, Castaneda mentions. They can help inform the user experience and design of the new legal technology and drive the process forward.

“One thing Judith Tigner and I discussed,” Castaneda states, “Is you don’t always need a long testing timeframe to get this done. We did our user acceptance testing with almost 100 users in just two weeks.”

What was Castaneda’s secret for such a quick testing period?

“What we did is we scripted [the test] in a very regimented way,” Castaneda states. “We made sure we got the experts’ availability, that they did certain things, cut certain pieces of the cake, and we were able to react and move things very quickly across the country.”  

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