by Jeff Hofstetter, Wolters Kluwer's ELM Solutions

When corporate legal departments consider their options for enterprise legal management (ELM) systems and providers, it’s easy to focus on dazzling product demos. However, an ELM technology provider is more than just a software manufacturer. A provider should also be a partner that understands and works toward your goals. The approach it takes to service is, therefore, a key indicator of the likely success of your relationship.

Starting on the Right Foot

The implementation experience is a legal department’s earliest indication of how the ELM provider will work with the department to help it achieve organizational goals. The provider should have a well-planned and time-tested approach to implementation – one that helps ensure that new clients get up and running quickly while achieving cost and time savings.

An implementation that allows users to utilize the system as soon as possible offers the opportunity for a more tailored client experience. By giving clients earlier access to the system and its workflows, the provider is able to make timely adjustments based on their feedback. Many ELM providers have extensive meetings and requirements-gathering sessions with new clients to understand their needs and preferences. From a user perspective, however, talking about a new software product is very different from actually using it.

In theory, legal departments know precisely what they are looking for from a new ELM system. However, real-world user experience always elicits new insights and a deeper understanding of how the new tool will serve them best. It also helps identify improvements early on. That’s important, because the later that changes are requested, the more expensive and time-consuming they can be. In addition, when users are engaged early – and if they see quick improvements based on their feedback – they have a more positive view of the new tool and are more likely to adopt the system quickly, making the project more successful.