The work of corporate legal departments is necessarily complex. Managing litigation, executing bill review, and successfully handling matters are challenging tasks that legal staff take on daily. Their technology tools should make these processes easier, but complicated interfaces and switching among multiple solutions are all too common. And busy professionals often cope by skirting processes and not using the technology. The resulting low user adoption can have a serious impact on the value that the legal department provides. It’s a simple concept: when you make it easier for people to do their jobs, they do them better.

Process Is Critical

Enterprise Legal Management (ELM) systems can make legal department tasks easier, but a poorly-designed solution can have the opposite effect. The user experience needs to be simple and feel natural and intuitive. It should align with how users work, streamlining workflow and eliminating task switching. With many systems, users have to constantly jump from one place to another and can’t complete a task as a continuous process.

61 percent of typical knowledge workers have to access four or more systems to complete their work. And a full 13 percent must access 11 or more.* With so many separate technologies, it’s difficult to remember the details of every complex workflow in every tool, leading to mistakes and inefficiencies.

Impact to Legal Department Value

Because legal department staff members are highly paid, even minor process inefficiencies can cost a company thousands of dollars per worker each year. And companies know this – it’s the reason why they make investments in honing processes, choosing ELM systems, and perfecting how they work together. But once those significant investments are made, they require user adoption to yield the benefits the company is counting on.

No organization can realize sufficient ROI from an ELM system that the staff doesn’t use. Their participation is required to capture critical information. Attorneys, for example, aren’t able to successfully develop a matter plan if their paralegal colleagues don’t enter all of the relevant data into the system of record. And management decisions aren’t properly informed if operational data is incomplete. These issues negatively impact the value of the ELM system that the company has invested in.

To avoid the problems of poor user adoption, choose an ELM system that closely integrates with the tools users already know and trust, such as the Microsoft applications they use throughout their day. There is no user adoption hurdle to overcome when users who are working in Microsoft Outlook, for example, can save an email attachment directly to a matter without ever having log into the ELM system.

Making It Easier

In countless discussions with clients, ELM Solutions has determined the best ways to bring legal management directly to them in the software tools they use most. The result of these efforts is Passport® Office Companion, which provides seamless integration with Microsoft Office products, including Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Passport Office Companion enables legal department users to manage matters from within Office in a way that truly feels like part of Office, bringing all the strengths and security of Passport straight to their desktops. For example, with Office Companion, a lawyer can now open a document in Word, edit it, then save it directly to a Passport matter from Word, with Office Companion ensuring secure version control and matter permissions.

Access to matters via Outlook is controlled in the same way as in Passport. And user adoption is aided by the simplicity of rolling out Passport Office Companion to additional users – IT reviews and installs the module once, then legal department administrators control access as they would any Passport feature, without the need to involve IT when someone new is onboarded.

When software tools make people’s jobs easier, they’re eager to use them. And the company reaps the rewards of a happier workforce, consistent process adherence, and increased efficiency. In short, an integrated ELM system is one that delivers maximum value.

Visit the Passport Overview for more information on all of Passport’s capabilities.


* International Data Corporation (IDC), 2014

About The Author

Jeff Loden

Jeff is responsible for defining and driving platform product strategy and roadmaps for ELM Solutions software platforms including Passport ® and TyMetrix ® 360°. He has more than 25 years of product management, product development, operations, and business planning experience and held leadership positions at Pitney Bowes and Neopost before joining Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions in 2011.

Jeff has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business.