5 keys for an optimal relationship with legal tech vendors
Relationships with suppliers are not always as you want them to be in the legal department. We are sure that more than one in-house lawyer reading this article has ended up in frustrated projects or has had misunderstandings in general when dealing with legal tech suppliers. Whether you are one of them or you just never have and are looking for new technology allies, this article is for you. Today, we present the five most important keys to a trusting, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationship with your suppliers. You are looking for a win-win, and we want you to achieve it, so let's get started!
Legal technology or legal tech has become a fundamental ally for companies' legal departments. Legal tech vendors are a key enabler of digitisation, providing innovative solutions that facilitate contract management and optimise companies' legal operations. However, as with any relationship, working with outside companies presents challenges and risks that need to be addressed intelligently.
What are the keys to a good relationship with legal tech vendors?
- Transparency about software features: an essential requirement for vendors
- Vendors must understand your processes and be involved in the implementation
- Vendors must not underestimate needs and must offer a realistic timeline
- Legal industry knowledge and innovation as a key factor
- Clear and effective communication: key to vendor relationships
Transparency about software features: an essential requirement for vendors
Let's keep in mind a crucial starting point: transparency about the software's features is essential. Vendors must provide you with a clear explanation of their solutions so that you can determine whether they fit your specific needs. To achieve this, it is imperative that you have a clear vision of what you require and that, in turn, vendors are clear about the capabilities of their products.
Often, a lack of clear understanding of the exact features and capabilities that legal tech software offers can lead to the purchase of solutions that do not fit your specific requirements. Define your processes and workflows clearly when talking to vendors but, above all, ask the right questions to ensure you are not being taken for a ride. Let's look at some examples:
- What is their track record of successful implementation in companies similar to ours?
- What integration facilities do they offer with our existing applications?
- How do they ensure data security and privacy?
- What is their approach to customer care and technical support?
- What are the associated costs and licensing model of their solution?
Vendors must understand your processes and be involved in the implementation
Legal tech vendors must have a deep understanding of your processes and the legal operations you conduct as well as visibility into them. That's not an exaggeration: this understanding is essential to customise solutions and ensure their smooth integration. Successful collaboration implies that suppliers are familiar with your particular workflows and challenges.
Legal tech vendors may struggle to fully understand your legal department's unique processes and workflows. When faced with this issue, be clear. Provide visibility into your workflows so that suppliers have a complete view of your operations.
Hire vendors who want to be your strategic partners, who see long-term collaboration and are interested in developing your projects. Otherwise, you will be contracting with a salesperson whose only interest is to meet their quota and sell you the solution so you can install it yourself, which often results in failure. Let alone when you have been sold a 2 or 3-year contract, which you can't get out of, but only a few months later you realise how difficult it is to implement the solution. You don't want to find yourself in that situation.
A technology provider that also does the implementation consultancy is key, as their success is measured by the success of your implementation and not by signing the contract.
Vendors must not underestimate needs and must offer a realistic timeline
A common mistake in this relationship is for the vendor to underestimate needs and deliver unrealistic promises. When working with them, require legal tech vendors to be realistic about what they can deliver and when. A realistic timeline is essential to avoid frustration and ensure effective implementation.
Set realistic expectations and make sure they understand the scale of your needs. Together, you can create a timeline that is achievable and fits your objectives.
Every company is different and has different maturity and reaction times. Share this information with the vendor and adjust the timeline if necessary. The important thing is to get to the destination, rather than to run and fail along the way.
Legal industry knowledge and innovation as a key factor
It may seem obvious to you, but it is important to be clear that legal tech vendors must have a deep understanding of the legal industry. The complexity of legal department work and processes requires vendors to be aware of the specific challenges you face. Look for those who demonstrate experience and understanding of your industry. Look for references and examples of success stories in similar contexts. A vendor with knowledge of your industry will more effectively resolve your challenges.
Some positive signs are that their management team actively participates in talks, lectures and even teaches legal tech at universities. Being closely connected to market trends is key for the provider to know how to adapt to the new times and keep innovation in all the products they develop.
Clear and effective communication: key to vendor relationships
What would become of us if we didn't understand each other? Effective communication is a fundamental pillar of any business relationship. When it comes to legal tech vendors, legal departments often face challenges in this regard. Technical jargon or mere mutual understanding of processes can make it hard to understand each other, which can lead to misunderstandings and costly mistakes.
Solution: Establish clear communication channels from the start of the relationship. Promote openness and encourage constant feedback. This will make both sides aware of the objectives and avoid misunderstandings.
Ask who will be in charge of managing your account support once you start working, what hours will customer support be available, and in what language. These are all relevant questions to make sure that the provider speaks your language so that when you need it, it is easy to pick up the phone and someone will listen to you, understand you and take action as soon as possible.
And that's it for today's article! Establishing an optimal relationship between legal and legal tech vendors is challenging. Make sure that the vendor you choose has corporate services tailored to your needs and an outstanding team behind it. Together with these tips, it will set you on the path to effectively digitising your legal department.
See you in the next article.