We recently wrapped up the implementation of our ELM system for a new client and it was truly an invigorating experience. The project began and ended right on schedule; the new client stakeholders were engaged, excited and committed. Both teams – the client’s and our own implementation specialists – were beyond delighted with the results and experienced the perfect synergy with one another. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few challenges, – the biggest being that the previous vendor’s data was delivered late, causing our data conversion team to work overtime to capture the client’s historical data. But, at project conclusion everyone was happy! This got me thinking…what can an implementation team do to ensure the success of a new system roll out? Are you contemplating the installation of a new system or vendor? Here is the top do’s (heaven) and don’ts (hell) based on our 20 years of implementation experience here at Acuity. Keep these in mind as you navigate any implementation process.

Implementation heaven: when the stars align!


  1. Appoint and empower a strong project sponsor and leader at the helm. We are partners in the process, but we need an advocate on the inside.
  2. Bring a positive attitude and ensure your team feels a vested interest in the project’s success.
  3. Obtain buy-in from upper management with rapid and continuous organizational and cross-departmental communication.
  4. Provide and include the correct subject matter expert resources.
  5. Line up IT engagement early in the process. These are often the most challenging resources to secure so locking them in early is always a win.
  6. Spend time defining / refining your business processes.
  7. Be a champion for change – don’t get stuck on previous practices just because “That’s the way it has always been done”
  8. Be receptive to reviewing and completing any pre-project planning ‘homework’.
  9. Enlist active and engaged system testers providing necessary feedback to the Acuity project team.
  10. Nurture that positive vendor relationship that organically grows even better over time.

Implementation hell: a disjointed challenge!


  1. Think you can get along without a project owner or defined leader.
  2. View the project as a chore or enter the process with a lackadaisical attitude.
  3. Neglect upper management buy-in with unclear, mixed or absent organizational and cross-departmental communication.
  4. Forget to enlist the correct resources for the project – in particular, IT.
  5. Expect the project to go swimmingly if team members don’t know their own business processes.
  6. Hang on to antiquated procedures that don’t make sense in your new world. Conversely, don’t let users that intimately know their business processes replicate these antiquated procedures.
  7. Close yourself off to change or remain closed off to new forward-thinking ideas.
  8. Shorten or skip user acceptance testing – system testing is a priority.
  9. Skip that important first step of understanding the business problem you are trying to solve.
  10. Let yourself fall into a one-sided or forced ongoing vendor relationship.

Acuity ELM is the leading cloud-based enterprise legal spend management solution, providing strategic business solutions to in-house counsel and legal ops teams of all sizes. We would love to show you our innovative legal management platform, book a demo today.

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