Digital White Papers

KM17

publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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30 WWW.ILTANET.ORG | ILTA WHITE PAPER KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT Are You Your Vendor's Captive? How To Optimize Your Research Dollars (Vendor A), we determined that the value received was not worth the price demanded. When the vendor refused to negotiate with us, we decided that to advance on the content continuum, going to a new research provider was a reasonable and compelling option to pursue as a step toward meeting our goals. Cost As a Driver For most firms, the aggregate cost of research and information products makes the top-five list in terms of overall expense. However, given the role these tools play in producing client work, practitioners typically prefer other austerity measures, rather than drastically reducing research tools. Early in our analysis at White & Case, we identified an unusual factor. Because clients pushed back on our recovering costs for online legal resources, lawyers deliberately sought ways to do the same research at a lower cost to the client. They avoided and used only as the last resort the content providers to whom we paid the most. To test our theory that lawyer resource selection was based more on cost than other preferences, we instituted a six-month trial period during which our lawyers could have, in addition to the current offerings, unlimited use of one supplier (Vendor B, a competitor of our historic preferred provider) at no cost to the clients. Within days of our announcement, we witnessed an over 65 percent reduction in Vendor A usage. In addition, we had anticipated that lawyers would return to the paid tools for periodic access to specific resources; instead, most lawyers remained satisfied within the free environment. Communication Is Key Consistent communication is central to managing change. Like many knowledge management (KM) change initiatives, changing research information tools is highly sensitive as it affects most users. Kris Martin, Senior Director for HBR Consulting, has worked with dozens of firms on similar initiatives and consulted for us on this project. HBR designed and helped us execute a communication plan that ensured that we would communicate appropriately with the constituencies who would be affected. Our process began in 2015 with our communication of the vision to our administrative and legal leadership team. Aer securing the support of leadership, we kept them in the loop by establishing a regimen for communicating key updates. As we implemented each move along the continuum, leadership was able to reaffirm their support. Gathering data and usage analytics also played a large role in this project. Obtaining accurate user information is critical to understanding needs and practices and recognizing potential pitfalls. Although an initiative as far-reaching as this requires an open survey, we followed this up with direct one-on-one conversations with users. Possible solutions were refined to address both overall and individual needs. The following chart shows how usage of Vendor A was affected by our announcement of the free service and by our one-on-one discussions. Evidence shows that usage of the historically preferred service dropped by over 95 percent in annual "retail value." Finally, communicating clearly with our suppliers was crucial. At no point were we unclear about our long-term strategy. We found that some suppliers, when given information and insight into our Our users confirmed the adage "People don't fear change; they fear the unknown."

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