Improve your Digital Maturity with e-signatures
According to the benchmark, the adoption rates of e-signatures are only 37%. Shay Ogunsanya, Sales Manager for the Nordics at Legisway, explains that legal departments can leverage e-signatures and document creation tools to automate routine processes. “Waiting for a document to be signed can take weeks, because the person authorized to sign off is typically one of the busiest in the organisation. By implementing e-signatures, legal departments can eliminate the cumbersome print-sign-scan process.”
Jonatan Gruenberg Schultz, Head of International Business Development at Scrive, offers an explanation for the low adoption rate. “It’s most likely due to a reluctance to change from traditional document review methods, given that lawyers can’t afford to make any mistakes (even spelling). When dealing with long, detailed technical documents, it’s not easy to trust that the tool will be as precise as they are.”
Also, Jonatan points out that legal departments are hesitant about the validity of e-signatures. Legal departments focused on national law may lack awareness about the eIDAS regulation, which recognises the validity of electronic signatures throughout the EU.
What barriers do legal departments face when trying to scale up their legal technology investments?
Scaling up is a challenge for legal departments of all sizes because it often requires examining or reinventing processes while maintaining efficiency. In addition, legal departments have to figure out how the reinvented process fits in with the context of the broader organisation. Shay has noticed that legal departments can be overwhelmed by the number of tools on the market. He’s noticed that “a common pitfall is when legal departments implement too much at once - considering AI solutions when they’re still working with spreadsheets - or nothing at all.”
Corporate legal professionals need to understand how the tool they want to implement fits in with the larger digital strategy that outlines how they plan to use technology to improve outcomes over the next three to five years. Shay advises that the key “is to take time to understand your current processes, which of those are high-priority, and the tools available to support you.” This is not a one-off exercise, but something you should examine on a regular basis.
Jonatan shares Shay’s view that it’s critical to get an overall view of a legal department’s processes, like agreement workflows and requirements. “Signing a document is always a small part of a much larger document lifecycle, so we need to understand a lot about their digital maturity and existing processes.” One challenge for legal departments of all sizes is the complexity of preparing a document. There are often many iterations, involving multiple parties before the document is ready for signing. There’s an understandable reluctance to move away from a system, even a very inefficient one, that can handle that complexity to everyone’s satisfaction.
Organisational challenges are a hurdle
Organisational issues like a business culture that is resistant to change, leadership resistance and lack of technology strategy form barriers to adoption. It can be difficult to convince colleagues outside of the legal department to see the value of investing in legal tech. Shay has noticed resistance is mainly due to the lack of experience in building a business case that demonstrates how the tool will achieve a return on investment. Legal professionals are unfamiliar with initiating a buying process, so they tend to settle for more generic tools initiated by other stakeholders in the business and miss out on the value provided by tools tailored specifically for the legal department. “I believe it is our duty as a legal software vendor, since we possess the knowledge and experience, to guide legal departments and assist them with building a business case,” Shay says. “We can provide you with the tools you need to win stakeholder approval.”
At Scrive, Jonatan sees a different organisational challenge. The main hurdle we face when selling to legal departments in the Nordics is simply the perceived complexity, from a legal as well as technical perspective. We make them aware that while e-signing can be complex, it doesn’t have to be. Two points we like to call their attention to.
First, a big differentiator for Scrive is our unique method of digital sealing. As technically interesting as that may be, what matters most is the benefit for our customers: that they own their documents, which of course is a big relief for any legal department when it comes to mitigating risk.
Secondly, we like to point them to the strong support we provide, pre-empting their understandable concerns about legal and technical complexity. Helping customers, in all industries and with operations in dozens of countries, to navigate the legal landscape around e-signing has been a key element in countless successful customer projects.
In such cases, a technology strategy is instrumental in overcoming organisational challenges. A digital strategy with clear plans and milestones guides the organisation in terms of strategic and long-term planning and outlines when, why and how investments should be made.
The Importance of Training and Developing New Skills
One concern Shay has heard quite often from legal departments in the Nordics is that it takes time to learn new skills and train users especially when it comes to adopting legal technology. They are concerned that learning to use new technology will pose too much of a learning curve. “Initially, there’s a huge investment in time required when adopting new technology. The role of a vendor is to make it as smooth and easy as possible.” In the long-term, investing time and money in digitalization increases efficiency, improves compliance and mitigates risks and manual errors. Moreover, learning to use a new tool and develop new skills helps to boost team morale.