Sometimes buying technology can be as simple as what’s called “plug and play” – that is, you buy the technology, you install it and you can start using it straightaway. The lure of this approach can be particularly appealing, particularly if you’re not someone who is used to or comfortable working with technology and software.
But the simplicity of that technology can be overshadowed by its one-size-fits-all nature – it’s never truly quite right for your situation, and you’ll always be making compromises. Sure, you might get used to your workarounds, or you might be able to configure the system a little, but it could be so much more efficient and so much better if the technology were totally suited to your specific needs.
You could, instead, decide to opt for something that’s custom-made – a piece of customizable legal technology that’s built exactly how you need it. You could have it built from scratch, or you could take one of those systems already available and tinker behind the scenes to make it work exactly how you want it to work. The possibility is tempting – there would be no need to learn new systems and processes, for starters – but there are dangers, too, the inability to scale the system being at the top of the list.
There’s a difference between purchasing customizable legal technology and choosing a configurable out-of-the-box solution. These terms can mean different things to different people, so it’s important to be sure what you’re getting from any legal technology vendor you speak with. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option in a bid to help guide your decision making.
Configurable legal technology: feature-rich, but maybe too much?
Those legal technology solutions that are configurable often catch the eye because they have so many features available. Sometimes these features come with an add-on price – that is, the providers operate tiered pricing to enable access for a range of business sizes – or the provider will let you turn features on and off from an administrative panel.
This type of software is called “configurable” software, as you can make small modifications to configure it to suit your needs. These could include changing field labels to match the phrasing used in-house, setting user roles with different permissions, hiding fields or tagging certain elements as required information.
The configurable nature of this technology means that legal teams have the flexibility to leverage the software in such a way that aligns with their current business processes, needs and requirements without needing to get a software developer to make internal changes. However, configurable legal technology can also spoil you for choice, with many features going unused yet still being paid for. You also need to ensure that someone in-house understands the technology like the back of their hand, as they’ll need to make modifications to configure the software to make it fit the organization’s needs.
Customizable legal technology: just right, but might bring risk
Opting for a more customizable legal technology, then, is an option for those organizations that have complex or unique needs. “Customizable legal technology” doesn’t necessarily mean something that’s built totally from scratch, though it could; for the most part, the term refers to that technology that has a baseline from which an organization can add only what it needs, and then configure that to the internal processes and workflows.
Functionality can be built in a tailor-made way, though that does mean you’ll either need to have developers in-house who know the system or develop a great relationship with the vendor and pay for them to customize it as you need it. If your budget and resources can stretch, though, the customizable legal technology option brings you something that is just right for you.
Beware the risks, though. Customizable legal technology could reinforce bad processes and could increase the risk of downtime – each time you release an upgrade update, the application could develop bugs that need to be fixed. It can also be difficult to scale the system without requiring a lot of time from the IT team.
Making customizable legal technology work for your organization
Research by Hyperion GP, an independent market research firm specializing in the legal industry, shows legal technology is growing in importance to the sector. They write: “Today, managing counsel view technology as a critical, unavoidable enabler of success. Indeed, recent research we conducted on the attitudes of corporate counsel, for example, shows strong agreement with the notions technology does in fact drive improved performance, that attorneys are becoming more tech savvy and that management is recognizing the value of technology.”
With this in mind, it’s important to think beyond the legal technology you deploy, and plan how to embed it within the organization and ensure colleagues know how to get the best out of it. Legal experts Thomson Reuters suggest some best practices to get your team on board with customizable legal technology, including:
- Eliminating obstacles to adoption, such as those around password management, user experience and access.
- Considering how you’ll train users, such as having roving trainers and researchers on the floor, installing superusers or “evangelists” in each office, and hosting professional development boot camps.
- Enhancing communications, such as publishing in-house newsletters, hosting group training lunches and considering how to gamify adoption.
- Remembering to promote the solution, not the product – making it about how it will benefit users will help with adoption.
Diligent’s Governance Cloud: customizable legal technology with collaborative features
Diligent Entities, Diligent Boards and the wider-scope Diligent Governance Cloud represent the best of both worlds – it’s cloud-based, customizable legal technology that can deliver peace of mind with state-of-the-art encryption, and it can be developed to suit the needs of even the largest and most complex organizations.
Diligent’s software allows unparalleled entity and board management with simplicity, as well as the functionality to mitigate risk and enable effective governance. Get in touch and request a demo to see how Diligent’s customizable legal technology could transform your organization’s compliance and governance.