System Selection: How to Find the Right Fit?

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System Selection: How to Find the Right Fit?

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Helpful tips when selecting the right legal technology to support a corporate legal department or law firm.

October 20, 2020

Selecting the right legal technology to support a corporate legal department or law firm can be a time intensive effort when done effectively.

This is why it is essential to have a structured and well thought out approach. Below are helpful tips for navigating the selection process to achieve the best outcome for your organization.

1. Early Planning and Market Analysis

Gather and Document Requirements

  • Seek input across practice areas on requirements to ensure completeness, but keep the core decision team small (4-5 people)
  • Document requirements at the onset in the format that you ultimately want to share with the vendors to expedite the RFP creation process
  • Prioritize core business, integration, and security requirements to drive the selection (50 key requirements are better than 100 general requirements)

Assess the Market

  • Focus on vendors with a core competency in the area of focus—end-to-end options sound appealing but may not be the best answer
  • Ask industry peers and legal consulting firms for guidance—they can share insights on the market based on real-life experience
  • Narrow the assessment to no more than five vendors to streamline the evaluation and mitigate resource fatigue during scoring

Secure Implementation Fundings

  • Understand your organization’s process to secure funding – timeline, supporting documentation, and effort across supporting teams (e.g., IT)
  • Talk to others internally who have led technology selection and implementation projects – learn from their experiences
  • Budget accordingly—expect a three-year license subscription, one-time implementation costs from the vendor and a third-party implementation partner (if engaged), and internal IT resources

2. RFP Preparation and Administration

Draft Clear RFP Materials

  • Ensure the RFP clearly outlines core requirements, evaluation criteria, submission guidelines, and a single point of contact for questions
  • Require vendors to use a standard template for written responses—this will save time when analyzing responses across vendors
  • Write questions in a manner to encourage meaningful responses—focus on how they handle a requirement v. if they can simply satisfy it

Establish a Practical RFP Timeline

  • Provide vendors advanced notice of the RFP along with a timeline of events in a clear, easy to follow chart/diagram
  • Build in time for written or verbal Q&A after receipt to ensure vendors are aligned on scope
  • Give vendors at least two weeks to prepare written responses—this will allow time for a tailored response and cutdown on boilerplate materials

Create Objective Scoring Criteria

  • Create a weighted scorecard that rewards core requirements—keep the scale simple
  • Require vendors to use a standard pricing template to compare equally across all vendors—request all-in pricing to increase cost predictability
  • Include scoring criteria for user interface and ease-of-use, consider including additional factors such a local presence, client base, customer support, roadmap maturity, and other products/modules offered

3. Vendor Evaluation and Demos

Score Written Responses

  • Aggregate vendor responses into a single file to ensure easy comparison for scoring
  • Block time to score written RFP responses with the core decision making team (as a group) before demos to obtain consensus and allow time for follow-up
  • Evaluate technical strength and weaknesses of vendors with appropriate IT and Security resources to ensure no showstoppers

Conduct System Demonstrations

  • Limit demos to two-hours, no more than two demos a day, and block 30 minutes post demo to debrief internally while content is fresh
  • Provide vendors with a script to ensure time is spent on your priorities and to provide consistency across vendors
  • Schedule an executive roadmap discussion as a follow-up meeting to get a better feel for the vendor’s leadership focus and product direction
  • Narrow evaluation to one or two finalists – if conducting a proof of concept, define the approach and limit testing to 1-2 days to stay on track

Conduct Reference Checks

  • Request references to be like-sized companies who have multiple years using the tool and similar workflow complexity and/or integrations
  • Consider speaking with companies who have moved away from the systems being considered to obtain alternative views
  • Ask all references the same questions – focus on features, pain points, implementation, customer support, roadmap, and user experiences