Legal professionals: 6 key steps to a successful digital transformation

alf article 33
Photo : Vectorjuice

Do you feel that your organisation should urgently begin its digital transition? Do you want to deal more efficiently with time- and energy-consuming daily tasks?

Taking the next step is a good decision: it shows the vitality of your entity. It’s about making your working environment more dynamic, making processes more efficient, and collecting, processing and storing your internal and external data more transparently. Automated tools allow managers to refine their strategic vision and give each employee the possibility to focus their energy on the core business.

However, the transformation of a business and its information system is not trivial. You need to be careful about how you conduct your digital transformation. How can you avoid pitfalls and blunders? Here are the steps to follow, recommended by our experts, for a successful digital transition.

1. “Must have”

For the project to be successful over time, it is important to note that it must be consistent with your organisation’s long-term development vision. As an example, the greatest Japanese leaders – known for their sense of organisation – understand the work on the vision of their companies as lasting over 5 generations… that’s hundreds of years (!).

It is essential to foresee the interest of the project in the short, medium and long term in order to consider all its aspects, as you integrate the tools you have chosen.

Looking at what your direct or indirect competitors are doing can be a source of inspiration and new ideas. Let yourself dream during a meeting or a coffee with your colleagues. These exchanges will open the door to many interesting ideas, whether they’re more or less easily realisable. And they will help you to determine whether the tool(s) you have selected will work for you in the short or long term.

2. Prepare in advance

Preparation is the key to any successful transformation. Regardless of the size of your organisation, changing your tools and legal software will have an impact on your internal information system and on the way your employees work. The processes you are familiar with will change.

It is therefore essential to prepare the ground with all your employees!

To begin with, identify your needs and those of your employees. Meet the solution providers in several sectors, test different tools, exchange with the teams, to understand the solution that best suits you.

Within your organisation, designate a contact person to act as project manager for this transition. This person should be a technophile, as well as a benevolent person with good coordination and communication skills. Ideally, he or she is familiar with several of your organisation’s businesses and has a good grasp of the challenges facing your business, the needs of your customers and, above all, the long-term vision of the benefits of this solution for your teams.

His/her role – full time or in addition to his/her other missions – will consist of accompanying the teams on a technical and human level, by ensuring their well-being while the new uses are understood, integrated and finally adopted.

3. Communicate, train and inform

Make sure that everyone in your team has a clear flow of useful information before, during and after the transition to your new digital tools.

  • Schedule an initial meeting to present the new solution and the timetable for its deployment.
  • Listen to your employees’ questions.
  • At each stage, inform them about any developments and support the change. Tip – You can set up a “Wiki” or a chatbot or an Excel spreadsheet to answer recurring questions and write a “practical guide” accessible on collaborative tools available on Gsuite, MS pack or other solutions like Notion.
  • And, train your staff!

Practice is the only way to learn and retain new skills and adapt to change.

Don’t forget that your employees have developed long-standing habits that do, in their way, work. No one likes change, and  – especially in Europe – we like what we know well, even if it is imperfect. Training and step-by-step support is key to enabling everyone to adapt to these new methods of exchanging and sharing knowledge.

These training sessions will also be an opportunity to encourage exchanges and solidarity within your team at a potentially stressful time of transition.

4. Document frequently asked questions in easily accessible FAQs

For everyone, new and old employees alike, reflecting on and discussing the questions that are useful for coming to grips with the tool is a time for sharing, but also a time for reflecting collectively on the interest of the tool for everyone and the uses they wish to make of it. Because in the end, this transition is essential for the evolution of your organisation, but it is your employees who will use it on a daily basis.

Therefore, create FAQs, with all the questions and answers collected by the project manager during exchanges with the teams.

Tip – Put them as attachments in your wiki and offer to ensure completeness for those who are reluctant to change. This is a good way to inspire them and allow them to think about all the tricky issues that will need to be addressed quickly to ensure the success of the project.

5. Ensure security and compliance with the GDPR

Any transformation that affects your company’s data is sensitive. Make sure the service provider you choose complies with the framework imposed by the GDPR.

The General Data Protection Regulation, which came into force in May 2018, must be complied with to the letter, on the risk of penalties of up to €20 million and 4% of your turnover.

Discuss this with your solution providers to avoid unpleasant surprises. Several solutions, such as Alf, have been developed by lawyers: these tools respect the GDPR “by design”, which can help you move forward with peace of mind.

Also, communicate with your IT manager about how your customer files will be managed. If the size of your entity allows it, appoint a DPO (Data Protection Officer): this employee will have the task of informing and advising you, verifying the correct application of the GDPR and ensuring communications with the CNIL if necessary.

All the resources on the CNIL and the contracts/clauses to consider are available here.

6. Monitor and anticipate developments

Has your digital transformation gone smoothly? Congratulations! However, the work is not over. It is now a question of ensuring follow-up on the one hand, and on the other of anticipating the evolving needs of your platform. This means that you will ensure over time – on different scales: monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly – that your employees are comfortable with the tools and processes you have put in place as a workflow automation platform.

You can record their various feedbacks and opinions, in order to anticipate changes. This is the second point: if your business continues to grow, you will have to integrate new functionalities and new tools to meet your new needs. Here again, try to anticipate and understand the reliability and solidity of the tools you use, so that they are able to support your growth.

In conclusion, no digital transformation, even with a “turnkey” tool, can be done without a certain amount of preparation and anticipation. This is an opportunity to take a breath, to take stock of your core business, your vision of growth, your organisation over the generally long term.

The second key word is “communication”: communicate with your employees at every stage so that the transition takes place as smoothly as possible for everyone. And since practice is better than theory, offer your employees training. This is also a guarantee that they will not get into trouble later on! Finally, follow up and ensure the reliability and solidity of the chosen solution. At Alf, we are GDPR-compliant “by design”, and our customers trust our more than five years of experience in the automation of administrative and legal tasks.

A lawyer for 20 years with international law firms and worldwide companies (Canal+, PwC Legal, Nomos, Amazon), I’ve had the experience on the inside: too much time wasted on regularly monitoring recurring tasks linked to files, with low added value. Alf, the first workflow automation platform for the legal files, was designed and developed to respond to this critical problem. Customizable, collaborative and accessible in all languages, Alf is also part of a GreenTech approach that encourages responsible innovation by reducing your carbon emissions. — Sabine Zylberbogen, Registered lawyer and Founder