To quote 1974’s Willie Dynamite, “I appreciate your ambition Willie, but you got to have vision.” How does this apply to matter management? Vision is the first key system factor in driving a successful project that results in significant change to an organization. In a previous blog post, I discussed the importance of having the right resources on the project – particularly a Director of Legal Operations. Now I want to stress the importance of having a clear vision.
As a change management professional working with Mitratech’s TeamConnect clients, I continually ask clients about their vision for a matter management project. What are the goals? What are the problems to be solved? What does success look like? One of the main reasons I have seen the project not adopted well was that the conception of the project was not clearly defined and shared. The lack of shared vision on a project is a surefire way to have a very expensive project that does not really accomplish anything.
“I appreciate your ambition Willie, but you got to have vision.”
I once asked a project sponsor what his goals for the project were. He indicated that he wanted a “Chinese menu” of options that stakeholders could pick from. In other words, he wanted each silo in the organization to be happy but there was no overall vision for the organization. The project was very expensive and unsuccessful. Another project sponsor said once that he wanted the system to be so user friendly that everyone would express a desire to use it. Again, no shared vision resulted in a very wasteful project.
On other projects, sponsors have presented with a clear charter and the vision tightly defined. During the project, posters were made of these goals and they were clearly communicated to all users, and stakeholders were held accountable for meeting those goals. Another example, from Mitratech’s whitepaper, “Putting the Pro in Legal Process Optimization”, a large, multi-national gaming company involved the business users in the requirements gathering session to allow them to review process and system designs and raise issues or provide feedback. Those projects were highly successful because users were cultivating the same vison.
As a project sponsor, you should focus initially on the specific goals and high level business needs for the project. Documenting the problems to be solved and then achieving agreement among stakeholders as to what the goals are is the first step to creating the vision. Once the vision is established, it must be clearly communicated to all of the users who will be involved.
TeamConnect can be used as a platform to solve most any problem in legal matter management, and can be configured to supplement virtually any business process. The blessing of this is that it can do what you need it to do; the curse of this is that the potential lack of a clear vision can cause much spinning of wheels and wasted effort in completing the project. The ambition to do a matter management and e-Billing project is great, but you must have a vision of what you want your environment to look like for it to be successful. We would love to discuss how to help your legal department craft your successful legal technology project vision.