Planning to Manage: Strategic Legal Technology Change Management

Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Global Institute conference is coming up on May 9 through 12 in Las Vegas, and IPRO will be there. I’ll have more to say about CLOC and the conference specifically next week, but I started thinking about how “legal ops” is becoming the hub of all the legal services within organizations today. And how the term “management” is becoming more strategic due to the focus on legal ops.

Not All Management is the Same

I once met a professional in our industry who said he was a great crisis manager and I asked what made them so great at it. His reply? First, you need a crisis!

You can’t always avoid a crisis, but, while it’s admirable to be able to keep a clear head in a crisis, the best crisis management is avoiding the crisis in the first place. Planning helps you minimize the potential of encountering a crisis in your projects. That’s why Planning is (by far) the most important of the Five Process Management Groups from the Project Management Institute (PMI), with 21 of the 39 processes across all five groups. For those of you who are math challenged, that’s more than the other four process groups combined.

Planning to Manage

But that’s within a project. Strategic Planning is a level above that – it’s within a department (such as the legal department) and even within an entire organization. Strategic Planning is about setting goals and strategic priorities that serve the needs of your department, as well as the organization overall. It’s also about bringing a long-term, perspective to planning while ensuring alignment to corporate imperatives. It’s about ceasing to be reactive to situations (such as crises that develop) and proactive to avoid those situations in the first place.

In other words, Strategic Planning is literally planning to manage.

Strategic Legal Technology Change Management

What does that have to do with technology? Plenty. Legal technology is always evolving, and if you’re reacting to the changes, you’re always behind. Technology Change Management is the identification, selection, and evaluation of new technologies and enhancements of existing technologies, and incorporation of effective technologies into the organization. It takes strategic planning to implement and maintain a sound technology change management program and the components of such a program are planning-centric. Strategic planning for legal technology change management programs typically includes:

  • A written policy for improving the organization’s technology capability, including the objectives for legal technology change management.
  • Senior management sponsorship and oversight of the organization’s activities for technology change management.
  • Identification of a group responsible for the organization’s technology change management activities.
  • Collection and analysis of data needed to evaluate technology changes, including data on the software processes and software work products.
  • Training to support the initiatives in areas including: the organization’s standard software process, software process improvement, tools and methods the organization uses and principles of quality control.
  • Development and maintenance of a plan for legal technology change management.

Those planning components precede the recurring activities associated with technology change management – they are literally components of the Strategic Legal Technology Change Management program of an organization.


If you consider the emerging technologies that we discuss on this blog regularly – such as artificial intelligence and machine learning classification algorithms (for everything from responsive documents in litigation to key sensitive information within your organization), cloud technology, workflow automation, and integration with enterprise systems and index-in-place technologies – you can’t afford to be reactive.

Strategic Legal Technology Change Management enables your organization to take a proactive approach to address the ever-accelerating cycle of change in technology. That’s one example of why legal ops has become so important in organizations today, there’s an entire consortium and conference dedicated to it! More to say about that next week!

And for more educational topics from me related to eDiscovery, information governance, cybersecurity and data privacy, feel free to follow my blog, eDiscovery Today!