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Lawtomated.com (Guest author)Sep-03 20213 min read

Does technology actually help when you're at the coalface?

In this chapter from our Transaction Management eBook, Lawtomated.com explains how to build the foundations to ensure technology can actually help at the coalface. 


Technology can dramatically improve products and services. However, there are no magic bullets. 

Tech ROI is only as good as its foundations. Those foundations are the underlying people and process served by it. If people are not already well organised with well-designed processes, deploying technology – no matter how good – is in many cases a costly fool’s errand. 

So, how to succeed with tech at the coalface?

Why are we here?

If you are buying or building technology, it succeeds at the coalface if those involved have a well-defined set of problems to solve, a clear understanding of the process and agreed priorities. 

In many cases, this is avoided or overlooked because it requires time, focus, momentum, and in most cases, creating consensus. 

So, how to do it?

Map and measure

Get service providers and consumers together, whether internally (e.g. in-house legal and the business) or externally (e.g. law firm and client). Have them collaborate around one or more process mapping and measurement workshops. 

The aim is twofold:

  1. Map
    Discuss, identify, agree and visually map – via a process map – who does what, how, when, where, why and with / for whom “as is”.
  2. Measure
    Measure that “as is” process, e.g. for NDA review in a legal business, this might be the number of NDAs requested per month, the number of NDAs executed per month, the number of versions per NDA per month, the number of negotiation rounds per NDA per month, the number of times X or Y provision is or is not accepted per NDA, the business individuals or divisions who request the most NDAs, the time it takes between intake and first draft, or between first draft and signed draft etc.


    Designing your “to be”

    Inevitably not everyone shares the same view of the process. This is fine. It helps to get everyone to build a shared understanding, avoiding any one stakeholder skewing the objective. 

    Having done this, stakeholders have better data from which to design the “to be” process, that technology may enhance. This will usually involve the 7Rs, i.e. identifying opportunities to rethink, reconfigure, re-sequence, relocate, reduce, reassign, or retool the “as is” process.

    This detail provides the process putty stakeholders need to reshape into their desired “to be” state, and is far more effective than without prior consensus regarding the “as is” state. 

    Slowing down to speed up – further reasons to map and measure

    1   Skin in the game

    Having made this collaborative, you ensure stakeholders (including clients) have “skin in the game”, i.e. sense of ownership for the eventual solution(s). In general this increases the likelihood stakeholders will further engage and reduces the chance of them dismissing solutions out of hand because “they didn’t have a say”. 

    Wants vs needs

    A clearer understanding separates wants from needs, making any buy or build a targeted process vs. a scattergun approach, avoiding: (i) scope creep (when building); or (ii) casting the net too wide (when buying).


    Without measuring your “as is” state, or defining your “to be” ROI objectives, how can you possibly measure the success / failure of solution X or Y in solution to an identified problem? The answer is…you can’t. 


    Technology at the coalface for a product or service can be, but isn’t always, a success. Where it succeeds, the tech is built on solid foundations. Those foundations are a collaborative understanding of the people, problem(s), process(es) and priorities involved. Without this, tech can be a costly decision, both in monetary terms, but also opportunity cost.


This is a chapter from our eBook Transaction Management: Is technology taking over the deal?   You can read more insights from legal industry voices on the role technology is playing in the transaction management lifecycle in the book. Download the eBook today. 


Lawtomated.com (Guest author)

Founded in 2017, www.lawtomated.com is a collaborative legaltech learning resource. The editorial team has a uniquely 360 degree legaltech experience, having been: (1) users (as lawyers), (2) sellers (as vendors) and (3) buyers (as innovation specialists responsible for large scale legaltech implementations for law firms and in-house teams).