Legal08 August, 2019

How data integration can help legal departments drive value

Does your legal department use software or systems that are isolated from the rest of the business?

If so, you’re likely spending a lot of time chasing down colleagues for up-to-date information or documents, and even more time manually putting information together to get some type of overview. Time that would be better spent providing value – through legal services or insights to enable business growth.

As your legal department deals with an ever-growing amount of data, the systems you use to manage that data also need to integrate the different systems used across the business by different stakeholders.

In this post we will explore what data integration is, why it matters and give you some specific examples of how it can help your legal department deliver more value.

What is data integration?

Data integration is the act of combining data from multiple sources into a unified view, with the aim of generating some sort of value. Data integration can be separated into 2 main types:

1. Data imports (ETL) : importing an existing set of data into a new platform. For example, extracting contract data from a system and importing it into a new system. This data can then be accessed and changed transparently but will remain squarely on the platform.

2. API-like connections : connect different systems to share data and automated processes across the business. Take for example, a company that uses SAP to manage Corporate information, a legal management solution for Contract Management, and an e-signature tool. When all the systems “speak” to each other, you can ensure new contracts are signed electronically using a legal approved corporate entity name, compliance vetted vendor, and automatically readied for processing by finance, all from one system, without additional administrative steps.

Why does data integration matter for the modern legal department?

To manage a business in today’s data economy with increasing amounts of data flowing through different stakeholders requires an entire ecosystem of solutions.

Here are 3 main benefits of integrating your legal data with other systems used by the business:

1. Data integration paves the path for you to manage your data efficiently – with the unprecedented explosion of data, having a data integration strategy means you can easily retrieve information by better managing data. In other words, it is easier to ‘make sense’ from your data.

2. Data integration provides the opportunity to convert your company data to your asset – data integration opens the platform for your organisation to be data-driven; by combining information from a wide array of sources, applications and formats to produce effective, actionable business intelligence. This gives your legal department the green light to leverage company data to generate insights to drive decisions or for real time actions.

3. Data integration helps you reinforce your role as the protector – as the legal department, it is in your nature to protect your organisation. Thanks to data integration, you can easily generate insights from vast storehouses of data so that you can identify and mitigate risks that can harm your business.

When it comes to data integration, there are multiple ways to get started. If you use a legal management system like Legisway, data integration with APIs can help you specify how data is stored, accessed, managed, and reported on.

Five ways data integrations can benefit legal departments

1. Providing & controlling access 
You can give your company employees granular access to legal information using a local active directory so that your IT can determine who has access to your legal management software. This not only adds an extra layer of security but also grants ease of use for colleagues as the log in is required once. While this is not necessarily an API integration, it is still very valid and a relevant use-case where data is shared by applications.

2. Storing data securely 
Let’s assume your IT department has a company policy to store data in SharePoint while you have a legal management platform to store your data securely. If you still want to leverage an advanced meta data management solution built specifically for CLD’s, you can consider integrating SharePoint with your legal management system. This integration could allow you to store documents as per the company policy while still leveraging the power of a legal management system, designed and dedicated to your legal department.

3. Collaborating to share data 
Legal data is often used by other departments. Imagine you have to update or add a new group company in your legal management solution. This update can be pushed automatically into systems of other departments so that colleagues use the right legal names. For an instance, let’s say this update was applied for a contract by Sales through Salesforce, the new contract can automatically be pushed to your legal management solution once it is finalised – saving time spent on duplicate administration, while increasing data accuracy across the business.

4. Increasing functionality without exceeding budgets 
Let’s say you want to add e-signature or document drafting to your solution. With API connections, you can use the data stored in your legal management platform and integrate it with a cost-friendly document automation tool such as DocuSign to increase the functionality and value generated from that data.

5. Generating insights that can be apprehended by the Board 
By integrating your legal management system with specific analytics or reporting tools, you can create visually appealing reports and presentations, all at the click of a button, and highly customised to your needs.

To conclude, if you want to transform your legal department into a ‘value-centre’, it is important to exploit opportunities to increase the accuracy of data, improve efficiency of data usage and reduce the risk that comes with having inaccurate or incomplete data.

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