As General Counsel at Ironclad and previously GoFundMe, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to best leverage my team, often through software. There’s an emerging narrative that the goal of software is to relegate lawyers to the sidelines, or that the relationship between lawyers and software is zero-sum: the more that software can do, the less important lawyers become.
That’s not how I see it. One of my core beliefs is that software and data should serve and empower legal teams. Software handles the high-volume, repetitive tasks that throttle legal delivery, so that legal teams can focus their energy and expertise on what’s mission-critical. Data gives teams the information that they need to make decisions better and faster.
Which is why last month’s release–Process Metrics Reporting–was especially exciting for me. This is a feature I’ve been waiting for since I was an Ironclad customer, back at GoFundMe. With Process Metrics Reporting, I can see at a glance all of the key process metrics that help me understand my department’s needs.
Below, I share five ways I use Process Metrics Reporting to be a more empowered GC:
One thing I frequently hear from GCs at high-growth companies is that it’s hard to make the case for hiring more lawyers, even when the Legal team is understaffed. That’s because the direct impact of, say, a Sales or Finance hire is easier to calculate than that of an additional lawyer.
Process Metrics Reporting helps me make the case for hiring by providing a clear view into my team’s effectiveness and workload. The Process Metrics report shows how long the average contract spends in each of the contract process stages. It also contains information on how many contracts each of my team members has processed in the past week. With this information in hand, I can gauge my team’s bandwidth and demonstrate to our executive team how an additional lawyer might speed up contracting. And, of course, the faster my team turns contracts, the faster the company closes deals.
2. Determining priorities
On any given day, my team is being asked to review and approve everything from confidentiality agreements to inbound contracts to vendor contracts. Chances are, you and your team have faced the same pressure. Without a central place to see all outstanding legal requests, it can be hard to track progress and prioritize incoming requests.
Rather than reacting to incoming legal requests on a first-come first-served basis, I use Process Metrics to see which departments send the most work to Legal and can prioritize based on factors like demand, business value, and average turnaround time per workflow. Whether you’re running a lean or more robust legal department, prioritization is key.
3. Planning and allocating work
The Workflows tab in the Process Metrics Reporting module shows me all of the contracts that are currently in flight. I have an up-to-date view of when each contract was created, where that contract currently stands, and which of my team members created it. This information makes it easy to see if any important projects are understaffed or where they’re being held up in the process, enabling me to remove blockers or assign additional help where necessary.
4. C-suite presentations
My colleagues on our executive team are accustomed to seeing reports based on data, whether it’s information on our company’s latest marketing campaign or the results of customer satisfaction surveys over time. With Process Metrics Reporting, I can present my team’s progress in a format with which they are familiar. My presentations show the data on what my team has been working on and how those numbers have changed over time.
Having access to this data in a presentable format has completely changed the way I report Legal’s progress. Rather than providing a subjective view of how my department is faring, I can show leadership how many contracting workflows my team has completed and how long they’ve taken. If there are slowdowns in contracting, I can drill down into the numbers using built-in pivot tables to identify possible bottlenecks.
Additionally, because Process Metrics Reporting generates data visualizations like charts and graphs, I don’t have to spend any time preparing my presentations or worrying about whether the data is out of date. Instead, I can simply generate a report ahead of my meeting with a single click.
5. Improving business processes and operations
Process Metrics Reporting has helped my team identify and fix sticking points in our current contracting processes. For example, when we looked at our report’s Workflow Steps Breakdown section and saw that the average employment agreement was spending nearly one week in the processing queue, we worked with our recruiting team to diagnose and correct speed bumps.
I know that as Ironclad grows, its priorities and processes will change. My team and I try to stay ahead of the curve by scrutinizing our own processes with Process Metrics Reporting. By building a strong legal infrastructure, we’re confident we can maintain or improve our turnaround times, even as the business scales.
Ironclad is an end-to-end contract management and workflow automation platform. By automating contracting processes and extracting intelligence from contracts, Ironclad lets legal teams focus on legal work, rather than paperwork.
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Ironclad is not a law firm, and this post does not constitute or contain legal advice. To evaluate the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability of the ideas and guidance reflected here, or the applicability of these materials to your business, you should consult with a licensed attorney. Use of and access to any of the resources contained within Ironclad’s site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and Ironclad.
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