In what is a sobering finding amid the CLM buzz, a survey by Onit’s ContractWorks group found that over three-quarters (77%) of inhouse lawyers had ‘experienced a failed technology implementation’, with some even leaving their jobs partly because of the tech they had to use.
The survey of 350 inhouse lawyers and paralegals from the US and UK, said that for those who had been at a company where they were ‘struggling to use the tech’, it had contributed to 23% leaving their job, while 29% said it made them doubt whether ‘my employer knew what was best for the business’.
It seems quite extreme to leave a job because of having to use an unloved tech product in your day-to-day work. But, if you were, for example, in a junior contract management role, and the software that had been imposed on you – and that you had to work with all day – was really awful to use, then one could see this contributing to someone leaving their role.
That underlines the importance to companies of not getting such things wrong. In short, bad tech projects can actually create low morale and lose the company some of its staff – which is something we don’t often hear about.
Moreover 43% said they had experienced more than one failed tech roll-out in their department. Less than one-fifth said they’d never seen a problem with a legal tech roll-out inhouse. So what is causing the problems? The reasons included:
- Implementation took too long (38%) – which suggests either the buyer or the seller didn’t really understand what needed to be done, and so could not provide a realistic timeline. Or, perhaps the tech simply could not deal with the complexity of the inhouse team’s work and so needed extensive customisation?
- That it was too complicated (36%) – which is also a failure of the sales process, as the buyers have paid for something that they cannot easily use. Perhaps the sellers over-sold, or maybe the buyers were not well-armed when it came to procurement of legal tech. Either way, this has led to a mess.
- The tech was not the right fit (33%) – now this really has to be on the buyer, as if they’re coughing up company cash for something that doesn’t do the job, then someone has made a bad decision. Maybe they got sweet-talked by the seller, but still, if it doesn’t even do what’s required then procurement has failed.
There were also very human challenges, such as resistance to change and too many stakeholders, with the latter seemingly inevitable given that few companies will have a dedicated legal tech team for the inhouse group.
Overall, the results underline the importance of getting decisions right here and really thinking about the end users. And as ever, the challenge with inhouse tech is the procurement process.
Despite the surge of interest in legal ops, the reality is that the majority of companies on this planet don’t have any dedicated team that helps the inhouse lawyers with matters that relate to tech procurement and implementation. Instead they rely on a mix of the tech companies, external consultants, and the company’s own central tech team, plus their own best guesses as to what they should do. In short, things remain in a bit of a muddle for many businesses.
In such an environment it’s perhaps inevitable that the number of failed tech implementations would be so high. And as mentioned, this creates a sobering counterpoint to the buzz around CLM – even if some of the newer ‘CLM 2.0’ companies are a lot more intuitive.