Optimising the way your legal departments operates can be a tedious process if not planned and implemented well.
It used to be that only large corporate law departments could afford to optimise the delivery of their legal services by hiring dedicated legal operations functions. However, nowadays, with the right technology, even small legal departments can innovate, without taking time away from legal work. In fact, technology can help small legal departments boost efficiency by streamlining processes, create value by automating standard processes and generate insights that can elevate the position of Legal in the business.
This article will look into 5 key questions you should ask yourself as a general counsel when deciding on software to optimise legal operations.
Can I customise the software to support my future needs?
Whether you are the only one in your legal department or you have a small team, the software you implement must be adjustable to suit your needs – today and into the future. If you have a growing legal department in terms of workload or resources, the software you choose must be able to scale and extend.
Often, when a business decides to invest in technology, the tendency is to select a solution to solve a single, specific problem. However, as the legal department evolves, changing needs and complexity often bring to light new requirements. If you don’t implement a solution that can adapt and extend across competencies as your legal operations matures, you will likely to feel frustrated that your needs aren’t being met. This includes the ability to add new users, manage different types of legal matters, like contracts, entities or claims, or build custom dashboards or reports. Therefore, adopting a software that can be customised according to your changing needs is a key to remain consistent as a division.
It’s also important to recognise that there is no one size fits all solution for Legal departments. The size of your legal department, staffing, budget, priorities and aspirational targets are unique to your business, and your technology should reflect that.
Is it easy for my colleagues to use?
Your team might not always have the best attitude towards changes that come about with technology. Implementing a software requires providing training to people to use it. Therefore, having a user-friendly interface that is easy to understand and operate can be empowering and motivating to your team.
What’s more, whatever software you choose should improve collaboration between Legal and other departments. It should be easy for your collaborators in different departments to use – for example to access templates, upload contracts or find information. By allowing the business to self-serve, Legal stays in control. Not only does this eliminate bottlenecks, but access to legal know-how can improve risk awareness across the business.
Does it allow me to save time and standardise processes?
Tasks like searching for contracts or running standard reports can be painstakingly slow if your information is not centralised in a single software. Many GCs spend as much as 50% of their time on admin tasks like filing, searching for documents and sending emails. It’s important that the software you choose helps you reduce the time you waste on admin tasks.
Additionally, software should also enable you to standardise routine processes. The right technology can help you be an efficient project manager, even as your workloads increases. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, you can standardise automated processes for routine projects, assign and prioritise tasks, and keep track of deadlines.
Moreover, by delegating administrative work to a software tool, you can spend more time on strategic matters that create value, like managing risk to increase business opportunities. Plus, you can free up more in-house manpower for work that might otherwise go to external legal counsel, a clear impact on the bottom line.
Can I generate (accurate) insights quickly?
Technology needs to empower the legal departments to quickly pull together accurate reports on legal matters. Reporting and monitoring functionality provides an overview of the operations of a legal firm and therefore better control over potential risks. Armed with insights to inform strategies to protect and grow the business, the GC can elevate the position of Legal and rise to the expectations of the CEO and the Board.
Also, insights on legal department performance can help with multiple aspects of legal operations management like resource allocation, vendor management, budgeting and more. With effective reporting and monitoring you can overlook your legal division and analyse the impact of your legal team’s input to the business.
Does my investment in technology align with my objectives and budget?
The software you purchase must align with your needs and your budget. You must keep in mind your objectives and select a software that helps you achieve them while ensuring you don’t exceed your budget. It is important to identify which needs should be addressed by your software and choose accordingly. If you are a small legal department, you might not need a software with excess features for which you will have to pay more. Your investment should serve your needs and allow you to stay within your budget.
Choosing the right software with these questions in mind can help you convert your investment in technology to a value proposition.