In this week’s episode of The Pursuit Desk features Jonathan Oeler, Senior Manager of IT and Development at Reed Smith joins Jason Noble to discuss solution development in legal applications and how it can help your marketing and business development teams.
Jon Oeler has been working in big law for over 16 years, specifically in development where he has worked on projects such as intranet extranet systems, legal review systems, matter management and experience systems, and everything in between.
4:24 What do you bring to every project to ensure the solution drives value
When thinking about the qualities that he brings to every project, Jon is reminded of a question he often asks people in interviews. And that’s “what is your biggest weakness?”. His answer to this question is always that he cares too much. And the same answer applies here, the best quality he brings to every project is that he always cares deeply about the end result and working with the team involved.
It’s important that you care about the outcome, care about the business solution that is being solved, and care about the other partners in the team. He believes that the role of the developer is to produce something that doesn’t exist, and to produce something they they need to be more successful in their job and ultimately make more money.
He states that you need empathy and to really understand the persons perspective and what you can do to help their work life.
9:02 Identifying what the problem is and what the desired outcome is
With every project, you have to understand what the desired outcome is. You cant just want to buy something new or try something different. You have to look at – what are we really trying to accomplish with this project and what are we specifically trying to solve. That’s the most crucial step to starting a project.
10:53 The area in legal business where tech can have the greatest impact
Jon believes that the greatest use you can have is to serve as the tech sounding board. Provide the feedback and consultation that the firm needs, and know that at the end of the day, every project is data – you’re trying to collect data or do something with the data.
You can also start by asking what solutions do we already have in place. New products are always going to come to market, and each will more powerful and have more features than the last. You have to be mindful of what you already have in place and where you want to store your data.
When looking at implementing a new product, you want to start by making sure you understand which internal data sources you already have, which external data systems can add to it, and what this new system can bring to the table.
Then you can go on to ask what are these specific products going to do with your data? And what are they trying to do with your data? That way you have a clear understanding of how you are going to be affected.
16:17 Where to start when creating a single source of the truth
You need to start looking at this with a truthful discussion as to where systems of authority lie and where do you ultimately want this data to be. When you decide to buy or build a new system, decide what data should that system data hold? Will it be holding it’s own data, or a consumption of other system’s data.
Regardless of what you decide to buy or build, Jon will want to build a process in which that data gets submitted to the HRES system and then it goes into the new system. How you bring new data systems in is important, and moving forward with building things like warehouses it important to know what data you want stored there.
18:44 what projects have you been involved in that have the biggest impact on marketing and BD?
Jon said it simply – matter management. In the course of his professional career they’ve gone through 3 or 4 iterations of new matter management solutions, and it was a constant struggle. What he found over the years is that you might develop a couple that don’t quite hit the mark, or everyone involved has a lot of questions.
The first system he initially implemented was too complicated and there was low participation because they were asking too much. Then with the next implementation, they made it slenderer and simpler, but that was asking for too little. And now they have a solution that is in the middle – he like to consider it a bit of a goldilocks solution. He likes to think that If they can get a couple minutes of an attorneys time then the system in place is successful.
24:42 What are some tips and tricks you have learned about approaching new projects
Jon simply states: start small. With every project, people have a grand idea about applying things like AI or bit coin or any tech term that is currently trending. He suggests starting from the basics. Asking them what is phase 1? What do you want, how do we get there? Then he can start to move more into new phases with ideas like blockchain or AI. But he ultimately wants to solve the problem first
All too often people get into paralysis by analysis. They start such a great idea and they want to create something. But you have to peel the onion back and start with that step even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles
30:40 Technology that will be dramatically impacted in the near future
There are 2 areas of technology that Jon believes will be dramatically impacted: The cloud and Data clean up. He believes that the cloud will see an impact simply given the pandemic and switch remote work. Because of this, there has been a quick acceleration to the cloud. He also thinks that there will be a want and need for data in a way that answers new questions. This includes more data clean up and data governance and one version of the truth
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