Low-Hanging Fruit: 3 Easy Wins for Legal Operations Professionals
Managing contract requests
Problem 1: Triaging and prioritizing incoming contract requests. Prioritizing work properly is a universal business problem. But it’s especially difficult for in-house counsel. Spending too much time on low-risk or low-value tasks slows down the rest of the company and leaves the business exposed to contract, compliance, and other risks. If your team tends to find itself with a backlog of important work (as most teams do), it may be time to implement a ticketing system.
- Solution: Tracking request tickets in project management software. By tracking the importance, progress, and responsible party for each incoming request, your legal team can provide transparency when needed. Your internal clients will know what you’re working on and how long you expect it to take. Tracking tickets also helps you verify that you’re putting important tasks first. A ticketing system can also establish a foundation for automation, particularly when it comes to routine tasks like distributing up-to-date contract templates.
- Suggested Metric: Average time-to-resolution. Once you’ve implemented the ticketing system, you can track a metric like the average time to issue resolution. You can also drill down on this data by requester team (e.g., Sales, HR) or request type (e.g., contract, NDA, vendor agreement). Doing so will show you where your team is most efficient and where it can improve. This can be an important component of legal team requests for more headcount in future.
Tracking the contract process
Problem 2: Tracking document versions and staying on top of contracts negotiations in your email is costly in terms of time and accuracy. E-mail isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it’s not an ideal system for managing knowledge or collaborating on documents. It’s hard to see what other people are working on at any time, and version management can quickly become a nightmare.
- Solution: Implementing a central contract management solution. You can help your company avoid compliance risk and improve its knowledge management by implementing a contract management solution that automatically collects e-signatures and logs document or contract changes in a central source of truth. This is the best way to track, measure, and verify contract compliance. Look for a system that can get you up and running quickly, with minimal upfront configuration time.
- Suggested Metric: Percentage of total contracts that have been logged in a central contract management system. We recommend tracking the number of digitized contracts and legal documents. By “digitized,” we mean contracts that have been entered into a contract database that tracks contract metadata, like contract amount and version, as well as key dates (termination, renewal etc.), so that they can be referenced or searched at any time. Think about making a plan to digitize 100% of all existing and in-progress contracts within 12-18 months. Phased implementations can be a good way to approach this.
Creating new solutions
Problem 3: Setting up new solutions for vendor management and financial reporting. You’ve experienced this problem if you’ve waded into the crowded and often murky legal technology space. With so many software offerings out there, how do you know which one will provide you with a high return on the time and money you invest in implementation?
- Solution: Handing off all vendor responsibilities to Legal Ops. By transferring primary responsibility of vendor management and financial reporting to your Legal Operations team, you can ensure that your team devotes adequate resources to researching, planning, and implementing solutions for legal work and financial reporting.
- Suggested Metrics: Time spent on vendor management and financial reporting. Try tracking the number of hours your Legal Ops team spends on vendor management or financial reporting each week, as well as the anticipated and actual savings for each technology implemented. Tracking these metrics over time can prove that any new technologies are saving you time and money.