Peer to Peer: ILTA's Quarterly Magazine

Issue link: http://epubs.iltanet.org/i/1472128

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11 I L T A N E T . O R G W e all understand within the ILTA Community the incredible value of teamwork. It's not easy to bring a group of volunteers together to plan an event or work on a project. And this is, for the most part, a group of like-minded professionals (those in the legal technology field) where, in theory, the amalgamation of individuals might be a bit easier than the norm. It's not hard to envision how the chasm tends to widen when practitioners from different functional fields are asked to come together as part of a cross-functional unit. Think doctors, nurses, and professional staff in a hospital. Or architects, government officials, general contractors and subcontractors working on a major civil engineering project like a new bridge or tunnel. There are differences in working experiences, skills and cultures to overcome in situations of this nature. It can be quite a challenge. Blending a mix of attorneys, legal operations professionals and legal technologists presents similar challenges, and in many ways perhaps even more challenging, for those who are good with the spoken and written word have different sets of skills from those good with application code and SQL. Even within the individual professions, like legal, there's a wide span of work types (e.g., trial attorney, attorneys who do legal research, conducting a deposition, settlement negotiations, many more) and the gaps of course widen more when measured across professions. All of this being said, the roadmap for this article is to a) define a strong process for working on most technology projects b) discuss some ideas on how to embed technologists into the legal function in order to raise awareness of the function in tech groups, and c) a discussion of some of the benefits associated with well-executed examples of these concepts. Five Project Imperatives Let's kick things off by taking a look at I.T. projects and now that might be structured in a more general sense. Regardless of what the project might be (custom application, implementation of a new vendor system, etc.), most successful projects contain these (or something like them) five important elements. • User Champion / Executive Sponsor Depending on the nature of the legal tech related effort, a user champion might be a law firm partner, general counsel, a client, or a respected member of law firm administration. Identifying a User Champion or Executive Sponsor is a critical element of any project, there needs to be both top-down and bottom-up impetus for projects and having engaged leadership participation efforts helps with team engagement and ultimate implementation. • Business Requirements Document This is a document which explains the project in terms both businesspeople and technologists can understand. In many ways, the manner in which project elements are expressed within a requirements document is not unlike the functions provided by say a United Nations interpreter. It is imperative that the goals, details, and project specifics are understood by "everyone in the room", something which is not inherently easy to achieve in a group comprised of disparate professionals such as attorneys, legal ops experts, business process engineers and, finally, deep technologists. • Functional Specifications Unlike business requirements, this is a document with a narrower focus, more specifically, something

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