Plan big, start small, get fast wins, and line up all your stakeholders
Justice departments around the world are embarking on projects to update and consolidate Court administration and Case Management platforms. This work is driven by a need to replace inflexible legacy systems with modern platforms that can support more responsive, fair, transparent and accessible justice services demanded of 21st century governments. Such projects can be hugely challenging given the complexity of requirements, and the difficult change management issues involved. Recent examples such as the eye-wateringly costly California Case Management System, and nearer to home, the Victorian Justice ICMS project illustrate what can happen when these ambitious projects go off the rails.
So what are some key factors to success with such projects, and how can costly failures be avoided? Here are some learnings, based on our experiences with complex, multi-jurisdictional projects:
Break it down
Have a strategic direction, think big, with the end goal in clear sight, but break it down and get there in small steps. Start with the basic case management and court administration platform, and get this working really smoothly with the core processes. Implement eFiling, integration with other justice services, inCourt and other more advanced processes in controlled phases, giving the organisation time to get comfortable with each step before moving to the next.
Get a quick win
The traditional IT project approach of a lengthy business analysis phase to define every conceivable requirement, then a costly development effort to build all these features, followed by a long test period can result in a long delay before go-live, only to find out that the system isn’t what the users expect, and doesn’t fulfill their needs correctly.
It’s much less risky to find a system that can provide 80% of the functionality more or less out-of-the-box, and go live quickly with a basic core system. Refinements and specialist features can be added in later phases. This approach provides a quick-win for the project team, and greatly reduces project risks.
One size doesn’t fit all
Every court does business differently. Don’t expect any jurisdiction to change business processes to fit your new system. Make sure you can effectively support their current processes. Process changes should only be made where this improves operations, not to work around system limitations.
The KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) apparently first extolled by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer at Lockheed, states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex. This can apply to large Case Management projects.
Build the important rules and processes into the system. Think carefully before coding in all the small stuff, otherwise the resulting system may become so complex that it will be impossible to adapt to new processes, and take advantage of emerging technologies.
Change Management front and forward
It is of course important to start your change management program as early as possible, discussing implications with all the Judiciary and other stakeholders, getting their buy-in, and scheduling any required legislative changes. You will need some visionaries who can champion the cause for you, and help you to overcome the resistance that will inevitably arise at some stages in the journey.
Talk to us
We’d love to hear your point of view, or any other tips and learnings that you can add.