The world is changing and so is the role of legal operations. With the ever-increasing workload and complexities in the legal departments, the need for legal operations efficiency is growing at a rapid pace.

To meet these demands, the teams must have their weapons ready, i.e., they must take full advantage of the emerging technologies that are available at their disposal. This will not only increase their efficiency but will also make their lives much simpler!

Now, the question is, how can the legal departments evolve technologically. Following are some of the basic steps:

  • Identifying the right resource and skill level required for various tasks
  • Leverage automation and AI — use data and analytics
  • Embrace diversity and growth — be the change agents

Pillars of technological transformation

The first and foremost step towards adopting any technology in an organization is building a scalable support model. It can be further divided into three steps:

(i) Analyze

You should analyze all the workstreams of your legal and contracts organization by asking the following questions:

  • What is the type and volume of work that you do?
  • What is the strategic importance and risk profile of the work?
  • What is the complexity level of the work?
  • What are the skills required for the work?

(ii) Optimize

After analyzing all the above, you need to assess if you have the right infrastructure to support them. If not, you must enhance the contract management infrastructure by:

  • Streamlining templates
  • Developing playbooks
  • Building a clause library
  • Implementing feedback loop from negotiators
  • Using rich data to make informed decisions

It does not end there. You should also simplify workflows and processes by reengineering the processes, streamlining the approvals, standardizing the company policies, and empowering your people.

(iii) Transform

The previous two steps will lead you to make a decision regarding adopting a new technology for your company. According to your needs, you can choose from a range of products like — contract lifecycle management software for simplified contracting and enterprise legal management solutions for all the other matters.

Undoubtedly, the legal operations teams have more than a dozen responsibilities, but contract management must be one of the major ones because of the cost savings and efficiency benefits. Let’s discuss some of the ways in which end to end AI powered contract lifecycle management and analytics solutions like Zycus can save time and drive greater efficiency for the legal teams:

1. Reduced contract turnaround time: Zycus speeds up the contracting process by taking up tedious tasks like — sorting large volumes of contracts, tagging agreements, flagging risky terms and clauses, and so on. Moreover, with self-service functionality and a comprehensive clause library, Zycus AI-driven wizard Merlin Guide simplifies contract request intake, cuts down the turnaround time, and increases the accuracy of best first drafts.

2. Single centralized storage: Zycus’s contract repository software offers secure and centralized storage for all contracts. It enables multi-parameter search, dynamic reporting, and configurable dashboards — making it very convenient for the legal operations team to find documents. Besides, with centralization, the teams always have easy access and visibility into the files from anywhere in the world — enabling better collaboration and a streamlined workflow.

3. Reduced errors with automation: To Err is Human. But there’s a cost for every mistake — be it in terms of money, time, or energy spent on rectifying it. Contract automation tools like Zycus’s Merlin Protector ensure that your organization is safeguarded against such unfavorable circumstances by providing protection against non-compliance. Another AI engine, Merlin Explorer, helps the legal operations teams to tag high-risk contract terms and clauses that might need special attention during contract review.

4. Automated contract review: Zycus automates contract review and negotiation process as per contract type and/or clause while providing workflow routing based on data values or differences between external agreement and preferred language. During the review, the AI auto-tracks all changes and maintains the latest versions ensuring visibility into every detail like what was changed, when it was changed, who changed it, etc. This not only ensures the inclusion of all necessary clauses but also always keeps your organization audit-ready.

5. Data-driven contract analytics: Powered by contract analytics, reporting is one of the essential capabilities of Zycus. Besides providing basic alerts on contract status, it also generates reports on important aspects like the revenue lost due to missed deadlines, the ultimate profitability of each contract by tallying the creation to completion period and the value of the contract, the specific financial impact of non-compliance, and so on. These reports provide valuable insights and help the legal teams to be strategic advisors to General Counsels, Procurement, and Finance.

So, we can see that, by offering the above functionalities and much more, our solution reduces the burden of the legal operations teams and allows them to focus on more complex activities that are beyond the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence.

Now arises the final question — Will the technological transformation be beneficial for your organization?

The answer is YES. Let us look at some of the upfront benefits of the transformation:

  • Save significant cost savings through optimization of legal departments’ spend
  • Improve risk identification and mitigation
  • Get better performance out of the same legal team
  • Do more with less — manage increased volume without increasing headcount

We have spoken a great deal about bringing change into an organization. But what about the people who would be affected by these changes? Besides adopting new technology, it is equally important to foster an organic change management culture within your organization. You can ensure that by:

  • Focusing on the vision of the future
  • Creating a safe place for feedback
  • Addressing the challenges head-on
  • Over communicating with the teams – clarify roles and responsibilities of each team member
  • Investing in training the employees impacted by the technological change
  • Measuring progress
  • Celebrating small wins and rewarding the change agent

If you are interested in more detailed change management strategies, download our webinar recording “Managing Change in an AI World – Practitioners’ Discussion” or read the blog summarizing the webinar.

(This blog is based on ACC Annual Meet 2020’s session on “How Innovation Spreads in a Legal Department” with speakers – Aine Lyons, Aaron Spira, and Kristen Cook.)