Better, Faster, Smarter access to the Legal Team
Learn how Head of Legal Operations Amy Brookbanks is transforming how Legal work gets done at the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailer.
Addressing bottlenecks through apps and automation
In a fast-paced business leading the transformation of an entire industry, how do you remove productivity bottlenecks and achieve ambitious growth targets? That was the challenge faced by Amy Brookbanks, Head of Legal Operations at Ocado Group.
Ocado Group is the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailer (with over 580,000 active customers) and the developer of world-leading end-to-end operating solutions for online grocery retailers worldwide.
Understanding the root-cause of the bottlenecks
Amy knew that the time-consuming process of triaging Legal support requests to the right Lawyer was hampering Ocado's competitive advantage. As was the process to track and update the business on the status of those requests.
The lack of transparency between Legal and the business (common in large organisations), and the email ping-pong required to gather facts was an enormous time sink. Their business was also unclear which contracts and documents required approval, and from which departments.
Implementing the solution
To manage Legal intake, Plexus Gateway's Legal Workflow Management module was configured to Ocado’s specific support requests. Common requests were split into categories and sub-categories, and matched to specific Lawyers and teams based on the type of work and the level of risk. The tool collects all necessary information from the business-user, and then triages a complete brief to the right Ocado lawyer.
Plexus Gateway ships with a user-configurable approval workflow feature out-of-the-box, however the necessary complexities of Ocado’s contract approval processes required a custom solution. Ocado’s bespoke Contract Review app was built to specifically handle their unique requirements and allow business-users to answer a series of questions related to their contract via a custom interface. The software then provides the user with the relevant approval rules, and automatically sends the agreement to the right manager or Lawyer for approval as necessary.
As well as configuring the approval rules, it was important to build an understanding of which contracts did not require legal approval to ensure Amy's team of Lawyers only get involved once specific risk triggers are hit.
Once approved, all contracts are then signed and stored within Plexus Gateway, giving Amy and her team a single source of truth plus a full audit trail.
Launching the Legal transformation initiative to the business
Plexus worked with Amy's team to manage the rollout of the new modules to their business, including series of workshops to brief Amy's Legal team on the new apps and to answer any immediate questions. Weekly phone calls followed, which allowed Ocado to use the apps and provide feedback.
To launch the updates to their wider business, Amy’s team held an internal event. Plexus’s Customer Success team collaborated with their team to create Ocado-specific documents and fact sheets to fully equip Ocado with all information they might need to answer queries from their business ahead of Launch Week.
Ocado’s Legal team developed the tagline “Better, Faster, Smarter”, decorated their office with banners, made Plexus-themed cupcakes (!), and ran 30-minute drop-in sessions to demo the platform’s functionality. The team also shared an internal video via the Ocado Slack channel informing the business on their new “one stop shop”, making it “easy for Ocado to get advice from the Legal team when they need it” while instructing users on how to set up their accounts.
The impact of Legal transformation
Projects with the sole aim of improving efficiency of the Legal team are destined to fail. Luckily for Ocado, the purpose of this project was to decrease cycle times for the business and improve productivity across the board. Optimising the Legal intake and approval processes were simply the vehicle through which to achieve broader business goals.
The initial project feedback has been positive. Ocado’s 3,597 business-users are receiving responses to their Legal requests faster than ever, without any of the previous email ping-pong. Automated approval workflows are also speeding things up by allowing the company’s commercial wheels to turn faster.
Amy's Legal team now spends fewer hours on low-risk, repetitive and administrative work, meaning they can invest more time acting as strategic partners to the business.
Implementation represents day one for the Plexus and Ocado relationship. Operationally, we meet fortnightly to track adoption metrics and provide support to routine queries and provide a 24/7 in-app interface where users can chat to us directly. Strategically, we strive to ensure our customers realise the benefits of legal automation to meet their business objectives.
As we continue investing in R&D, our technology will continue to improve, and we’ll continue shipping updates and features to our existing customers. Ocado will reap these additional incremental benefits for many years to come, and we look forward to growing our relationship with them.
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