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Legal Matter Management: “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts” Needs Legwork

By: Maher Heidi

When it comes to legal matter management solutions, one size rarely fits all.  From the “me too” vendors to the long-term market leaders, it seems as though everyone has an offering.   Many approach potential clients with the same message and cookie cutter solution.   However, whether it’s metadata or records management, business process management, or managing physical or rich media files, legal matter management has various meanings to each industry and even organizations within those industries.

Matters Across Different Industries

Matters Across Different Industries

Analysts and vendors are fond of predicting the commoditization of ECM, but there is little evidence of that in the marketplace.  At a minimum, most vendors offer version control, check in/out, and some level of workflow.  Many vendors don’t do the minimum adequately and others provide excess functionality leading to mass confusion.  Solutions such as the “plug and play” solutions sound attractive in theory but in reality, rarely deliver the promised customer satisfaction and frequently end up as shelf ware.  Because of these things, an enterprise seeking legal matter management software, without a solid handle on business requirements and processes, is walking into a selection minefield.

The above was the experience of a large, state agency CIO.  The agency handles hundreds of thousands of legal matters per year and that number is exponentially increasing every year without the corresponding increase in budget and staff.  The agency’s challenges include scattered and unsecured documents, manual and time intensive reporting, no real-time ability to track employee capacity or case status, etc.  The CIO rolled out an initiative to solve these challenges so the agency could do more with less.   A task force was assembled to to evaluate various solutions that would meet the business requirements of the agency.  After interviewing hundreds of stakeholders to nail down requirements for each subject area and a thorough assessment of ECM vendors, the task force came to the ultimate realization that despite a healthy budget for the initiative, there was no out-of-the-box solution that would meet their needs.   In-house development was strongly considered as a possibility, but after an honest evaluation of internal resources and the time necessary to develop a solution, it was summarily ruled out. After putting in the legwork necessary, the task force confidently selected a highly configurable unified platform with an integrated legal matter management solution.  The stakeholder participation in the process and the decision to select a solution that would meet every division’s wish list was ultimately responsible in gaining end-user acceptance and adoption.

The ECM marketplace can be confusing and overwhelming, but with the right preparation, the answer to your organization’s challenges will be clear.

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