Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions’ Margie Sleboda and Nathan Cemenska discuss the powerful world of dashboard software and how it can help companies analyze and improve legal spend and operations.

CCBJ: We frequently talk about how to use data and analytics in the modern corporate legal department. Why should dashboards in particular be part of that process?

Margie Sleboda: Dashboards present information in a usable manner, making it convenient and accessible in helping to drive decisions and strategies. We offer dashboards that can help corporate legal departments with best practices by efficiently displaying information.

Nathan Cemenska: Time is valuable, and attorneys need tools that provide the high-level information they need to make good decisions without having to get into the weeds. If you don't provide that information in a useful way, people will rely on anecdotes and intuition, which can impair decision-making.

Let’s be sure we’re clear about the term itself. What exactly do we mean when we talk about dashboards in the context of the corporate legal department?

Cemenska: It’s computer software that’s like the dashboard of your car. It’s a visual representation of the information you need in order to get where you’re going. It might have to do with financial information about invoices you received from outside counsel, or the mix of matters you’re working on, who is working on them, what the status is.

Sleboda: It’s a data visualization tool – a way to see key performance indicators and business metrics at a glance, then drill into them. It’s very high level, but you can go granular and do a deeper analysis if needed.

What are the best uses for dashboards in a corporate legal environment?

Sleboda: We really want corporate legal departments to have a good understanding of their own data and what’s happening in their department. That’s the first level of a dashboard – seeing what’s going on and what’s aligned or not with the overall strategy. Then the next step is to measure and see what’s working. This involves asking questions about whether you are measuring the right things, whether you have the right metrics in your dashboard.

Cemenska: Dashboards are there to help you make decisions – like whether to cut a particular invoice or whether to adjust it. Whether to continue using a particular law firm. Whether to talk to a firm about the way a particular matter is being handled. Things like that.