Want your next corporate legal technology project to succeed? Here’s a tip: don’t think of it as a technology project. Think of it as a business project that just happens to involve technology.
Oh, your peers may tell you about this or that “must-have” piece of software. They’ll urge you to implement a certain workflow solution, BPM platform, or contract management application. And if you do purchase and implement these technologies, you’ll probably see an initial spike in the productivity of your corporate legal team.
But then things are going to get real.
These new technologies may not support the unique ways you do business. You may find it cumbersome to reengineer business processes within the system. And there will be gaps and glitches that you never quite fix.
There’s a reason for this. Most technology platforms used by corporate legal departments are designed based on legal industry best practices. In some ways this is a good thing, because it means you’ll be able to leverage some of the efficiencies other companies have achieved.
But ask yourself: does your company do business in exactly the same way as anyone else?
Going Beyond Best Practices
Best practices aren’t the ultimate goal – they’re simply a guideline. Your goal with a new legal technology platform will be to tweak built-in best practices to support the way you work.
For example, consider the ways in which your contract management process will differ from that of other companies:
- Required information. You’ll need your technology platform to collect the exact pieces of information you want end users to provide on contract requests. This information may be highly specialized to your industry and business model.
- Systems of record. Data such as vendor addresses and cost center information is most likely scattered across your enterprise. The standard language you require for contracts may be stored in a content management system. To increase your department’s accuracy and reduce the need for manual data entry, you’ll need your contract management solution to tap into all of these systems at just the right stage of the contract management process.
- Approvals. Your contract approval process will most likely involve approvers from multiple business units, and extensive input from the financial organization. So, you’ll need to route each contract request to a slightly different group of people based on contents and subject matter.
- Compliance policies. Compliance management too often slips through the cracks because legal departments leave enforcement up to manual methods. You need a system for automating enforcement, so that the detailed policies you’ve documented won’t be violated.
More on Enhancing Contract Management
As you can see, simply implementing a content management system or workflow automation system isn’t enough. The ideal solution for your in-house legal department will integrate your workflow with various other business systems across your company. Read more about the challenge of enhancing contract management in our free white paper, titled "Ten Best Practices for Efficient Contract Management" .