25% of IT projects fail, 50% require material rework and 20-25% don’t provide ROI. These are stats from a 2009 IDC study into “Improving IT Project Outcomes by Systematically Managing and Hedging Risk. ‘ The evidence behind these stats suggest that two of the main reasons for failure are poor project management and poor communication.  Based on our experience of working with in-house legal teams to implement IT projects, here are some suggestions on how to improve your odds in both those areas.  The technology itself is only primarily responsible for failure in about 3% of cases.  Success is about the people and how we manage and communicate around new technology.

These steps should help to structure your next project.

  1. Define your purpose. What problem are you trying to solve? What does good look like when you are doing it well? This may seem obvious, but a unified purpose and clear vision of success helps to ensure you keep your project pointing in the right direction and will provide you with clarity when working on priorities and bringing stakeholders and your team on the journey.
  2. Decide your team. Who will lead this? They will need help and collaboration, but someone needs to take ownership from legal. Appoint and then empower them with time and resource. A common problem is other issues taking priority. Building in additional time and resource gives your leader the tools to succeed.
  3. Review your modus operandi. How do you do what you do now? Flowcharts and diagrams of how you currently do things help you to see the wood for the trees. Taking the time to look at current practices and methods of getting things done is itself is a valuable exercise.
  4. Set your goals. What do you want to achieve? What does good look like? Do you want to do things faster, make information more accessible and searchable, collect management data? The answer will be many things but work out priorities and relate everything back to your purpose. Why are you doing this?
  5. Collect data. Gather empirical evidence of what you do and the results. Tracking the data now will allow you to measure your success. Without a base point you will not know how your new system is performing.
  6. Create a strategy: What are your priorities, what solutions will best deliver them, who is the project team, key stakeholders, how will you measure success and how will you report on outcomes. Pull all of this together into a strategy document.
  7. Create a scoping document with a practical change control mechanism. What do you need to deliver, who needs it, what does it need to integrate with, what hardware do you have, what are you expecting it to do, what reports are you expecting, how will it be updated and maintained? The more you think in advance the easier you can handle, objections, change requests and scope creep.
  8. Research the market (externally and internally). Remember most tech solutions will offer a lot more than your brief, so be careful not to be swayed by competencies you don’t require whilst also keeping an eye to future proofing. A bit of a balancing act. Your business may already be using a solution that could work for you and you can benefit from economies of scale. Overall keep it simple. Focus on solving the priority problem. Getting that fixed should create more time and space for you to focus on new challenges.
  9. Plan for testing and user feedback. Put together a test team. Design test scenarios. Don’t expect it to work perfectly first time.
  10. Communicate, communicate, communicate, in words, pictures, dashboards, meetings, regularly and relentlessly.

Our experience of what makes tech great is getting the people part great too. What does good like?  A well communicated Vision/Goal of what good looks like so everyone is on board with the higher purpose.  This will see you through the tough times.  Think about it like getting married. You know you’re asking a lot to stick it out with one person for the rest of your days, so you have to go with a big bold vision of what you are both doing it for and symbols that help you to remember that.

We are tech enablers. Providing you with the time, structure and helping you define and stick to your purpose choosing and implementing the right tech solution for you and helping your team manage change.

Halebury LPM is here to help.

Contact Denise Nurse on denise.nurse@halebury.com or Richard Dalby on r.dalby@halebury.com to speak about how Halebury LPM might work for your in-house legal team.

*“Improving IT Project Outcomes by Systematically Managing and Hedging Risk,” a 2009 IDC report by Dana Wiklund and Joseph C. Pucciarelli

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