September 13, 2021
By BTReading Time: 4 minutes
Digital transformation has been rapidly changing the way legal operations professionals do business. Organizations that want to boost efficiency and remain competitive need to be devoting time to transformation initiatives that will implement meaningful change sooner, rather than later. The question that many companies have is how to implement digital transformation quickly and effectively.
While digital transformation doesn’t happen immediately, the right approach and technology choices can minimize delay and help you see improved efficiencies quickly. At BT Group plc, we know firsthand the efforts required to make a significant digital transformation. We were able to replace manual and disconnected processes and management tools with centralized automation and help our legal operations department manage workload and matters across teams from inception to closure. Better yet, the team behind this transformation was able to complete this in under a year.
Case Study: BT’s Digital Transformation Journey
For BT, the sign that we needed to start implementing digital transformation came when we realized we had processes that weren’t backed up by technology to help them be achievable. Our starting point was to implement a technology that would serve as the backbone for greater transformation across the organization – something that would help us establish effective work management and integration of processes and data flow through our departments and the business as a whole.
When we started, everything was piecemeal. We were using different technologies, portals, spreadsheets and workflows. Then we implemented a business automation and workflow platform to power our transformation. Using the platform, we were able to build the apps we needed to help manage matters and documents. Within three months, the new system was live for matter management and real-time reporting, empowering the legal department to engage in trend analysis and analytics across work done by the enterprise team.
Within a year, we had successfully implemented a cutting-edge platform that eliminated manual work and disconnected processes and enabled oversight of workload and matter management across teams from inception to closure. For every hour automation returns to our lawyers, they can reinvest that time back into helping the company grow and succeed.
Three Tips for Successful Digital Transformation
If you’re like many corporate legal departments today and you’re considering embarking on a digital transformation journey, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the process go more smoothly.
- It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
At BT, much of our success is attributable to our team’s overriding mantra: Look for progress, not perfection. Remember, this is a journey, and digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. When you start thinking about digital transformation, realize that you’re not embarking on a quick fix, but real change in the way you do business. That said, there are ways to eliminate delays and make the process go faster.
It might be tempting to try to roll your new solutions out to everyone at once, but that’s usually a mistake. Instead, start smaller, rolling out changes to departments or discrete units who can benefit the most or who currently have the greatest inefficiencies. The first users to be immersed in your changes can not only give you valuable feedback but can also help you achieve wider success and adoption across other departments.
- Be Prepared to Pivot and Adapt
It’s natural to think you should plan every bit of your transformation out through every step, but even the best-laid plans will go astray along the way. Successful digital transformation requires the ability to shift, adapt and scale at a moment’s notice. The long-range plan you might think you need right now will likely look very different when implementation is done.
First, you’ll probably try to deliver too much too quickly. Again, start with a smaller rollout and gradually build. Second, by the time you get to the later steps of your plan, they’ll likely be out of date because the world keeps changing. Fewer things change more rapidly than technology, and that’s particularly true as we continue to respond to novel challenges and business demands. Striving for small, incremental deliveries to the business addresses both of these concerns and will put you on the path to successful digital transformation.
- The Right Technology Is Key
It may seem obvious, but you need to make sure you’re investing in the right software to help your transformation succeed. There are a lot of options in the market today, and they’re not all created equal.
It can seem appealing to buy out-of-the-box software that you implement straight off the shelf, but when you do that, you have to fit within the confines of that box. A crucial part of BT’s successful transformation was relying on an actual toolkit that we can continue to use to build and grow. Our box can change shape and morph into what we need it to be, and that will be one of the keys to our success going forward.
The hard work of everyone working on this digital transformation project at BT paid off. We reduced the number of systems running our matters by 75%, so that we now manage our matters in one place. We’ve brought together business, outsourcing and lawyers on a single platform to ensure accurate data capture and a connected workflow to manage the department’s caseload. Our GC and legal directors have a massive amount of data in a digestible format where they previously had spreadsheets, not a tool that offered real insight into their workload and teams.
We even received industry validation of our efforts. In June, BT was honored to be awarded a prestigious Legal Innovation Award in the category of Future of Legal Services Innovation – In-House Legal Operations. This award recognizes the transformative legal technology implementation that enabled our legal department to bring together business, outsourcing and lawyers on a single platform. Even more recently, in July 2021, BT and Onit were named as finalists for the Legalweek Leaders in Tech Law Awards 2021 in the category of Legal Operations, in recognition of innovation in the legal technology sector and precedent-setting, game-changing projects and initiatives.
Going forward, we plan to continue building and deploying custom solutions to automate legal operations and compliance processes and better collaborate with business users across the organization.
If you’d like to hear more about this transformation, tune in to our recent podcast.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to digital transformation, but with the right approach and technology, you’ll start to see the results you want more quickly and be able to implement lasting change.