Continuing Neota’s global roundtable series, providing a community for in-house lawyers to come together, network and share insights with their peers. This event was held in London and we were joined by in-house legal professionals from BT, HSBC, Nokia, Smiths Group, BNP Paribas, amongst others. Here are some key take-aways from the discussion.
Is the real challenge ‘doing more with less’?
Legal departments routinely face strict budget controls. You can always strive to do more with less but the real goal is to produce higher quality outcomes for the business. And if you’re constantly tasked with cutting your legal department budget you can’t continue to do things in the same way as before. One solution explored was to look at automation of routine tasks such as contracts, advice and compliance. Examples of where automation can deliver value included legal portals and self-service applications that not only speed up legal advice and document-based processes but also introduce better risk control and consistency.
Making the investment case for automation?
But before you can begin, you need to make the case for investment. And to do so, you need to ensure that your legal department goals align with the overall objectives of the business. Engage with the business, listen to their issues and find solutions that meet their needs, as well as your own. It’s especially important to get your CFO and IT teams involved at an early stage.
Several delegates stressed the importance of providing data as evidence to back up your case for technology investment. Make the comparison showing what an extra member of staff will bring you compared to the value technology can bring over a near and medium time frame. The key here is repeatable processes; technology won’t just perform a single task and achieve better results. It will continue to do this again and again. That’s where the true value lies. It’s important to stress that if you promise the business a certain return then you will need to deliver so make realistic promises and show the incremental return over time.
When a crisis in the business occurs try to turn this into a trigger for change. Stress to the business how this could have been prevented if you had better processes and solutions in place. One delegate spoke about their implementation of an NDA automation solution and explained it wasn’t just the value of automating the end-to-end process that would benefit the business but it was actually the hidden value of undertaking an exercise where you looked at your existing NDA processes and removed areas of risk. By undergoing this review, they were able to ensure consistency and streamline their NDA review process across multiple regions.
User Experience Design
It’s important not only to think about how technology can work for the rest of the business but also how they will interact with any new system. Look to introduce solutions that integrate with the tools they are already using every day. One example was embedding an ‘Ask the Lawyer’ button in Salesforce that users could click when they needed help that would link to a self-service automation tool. In order to get this to work it’s important to ask for their input and feedback early on in the implementation cycle.
Agile Development Approaches
Your business might not be aware of how software has changed over recent years. No longer do you have to wait years and spend millions to implement on-premise solutions that used to be the case several years ago. With today’s SaaS, subscription-based software, it can take weeks to implement a pilot project. It’s also likely that technology vendors will allow you to move forward with proof of concept/pilot so you can see the technology working within your organisation and start to measure the potential return on investment.
Software vendors will also be used to working with large and SME organisations so can offer different models of subscription that will work for different business models.
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