While the business is under pressure to work efficiently, the legal department is no different. With long-winded legal processes slowing down the pace of business, the legal department can often be viewed as a “bottleneck” when it comes to getting things done. Legal teams even recognize this. According to research from Gartner, 90% of legal staff report feeling they slow other functions down when they execute their tasks slowly.
So, how can the legal department change this perception as a “bottleneck” and become a better business partner?
Being a Better Business Partner
Identifying the client’s motivation is the first step towards becoming a better business partner. What does being a better business partner mean to them? Understanding where the client is coming from and gaining their perspective is key to identifying the specific goal that you want to accomplish. The client, for example, may deem the contract review process as too lengthy. This can be an excellent place to start improving the process.
The next step is to understand your people dynamics. Organizations have their own unique culture and ways of interacting with their employees and attorneys. Implementing a holistic approach to a better business partner requires you to analyze your problems, understand how your people operate, and design a solution that works.
Map Out Internal Processes
Once you have identified the area that needs to be analyzed and improved, as well as your people dynamics, it’s time to evaluate your processes. As a first step, map out your organization’s processes and make sure that all members of the legal department follow the same process regardless of their roles, responsibilities, or geographical location. Identify the specific bottlenecks and pain points within these processes and figure out what solution needs to be implemented to resolve the bottleneck.
Whenever you map out an internal process, you must consider three things.
1. To start with, you must establish a baseline of your current state and define your key performance indicators. KPIs include the volume of work going through a particular process, the number of matters, the number of deals, the number of agreements, and the number of contracts.
2. The second area is looking at the amount of time or the costs that are associated with these processes. How much time is spent, how long does it take, what are the various delays? Analyze everything related to the efficiency of the process.
3. Finally, it goes back to client satisfaction, customer satisfaction. As the attorney or the department or the team, are they being effective in terms of their communication, in terms of responsiveness, transparency?
Once your processes are mapped out, then you can identify the next steps to solve the issues and drive efficiency. What tools can help solve the bottlenecks and improve your KPIs? Is there a technology solution that can help you improve client satisfaction?
Legal Technology to Drive Efficiency
Automation can boost efficiency and lower costs for legal departments. Processes such as contract review, approvals, NDAs, and matter management can all be automated. Whether it’s the review of contracts or closing deals faster, finding ways to speed up these processes can help change the perception of the legal department and allow them to be a better partner to the business.
Many people want to jump right into legal technology to drive efficiency and expect issues to be resolved instantly by just purchasing software. That rarely works. Either technology will be part of a bad process or you will run the risk that no one will use the tool since it does not solve the root problem. Because of this, you have to examine how technology can facilitate your process or remove steps from it from start to finish.
By using legal technology, you can improve efficiency and improve your ability to identify and solve problems, making you a better business partner. However, you must keep in mind that good implementation requires hard work. To hear more about how to be a better business partner, watch our webinar.