Contract workflow automation is changing the game for Legal departments who want to reclaim time and scale support across their business.
The contract workflow for an in-house legal document typically begins with a brief from the business and ends with a contract being executed and stored in a system.
In an ideal world, this brief would be a formal document containing all necessary details required for a lawyer to begin drafting the contract. Unfortunately, such a document is rarely completed.
Most lawyers are emailed partial briefs or even asked to write up an agreement from a brief taken over the phone. This often results in lawyers needing to go back to the business to ask for more details, and increases the risk of incorrect or incomplete details on the final document. Once the details are established, whoever took the brief might turn out to be the wrong lawyer for the task and need to re-assign the job. The potential failure points don’t end there either.
Once the agreement is (finally) drafted, there are usually complex delegation and approval rules to follow, and each approver and signatory must be tracked down before the next can take their turn. As well as running the risk of getting these rules wrong, it can take days and even weeks for a document to get around to everyone.
This lack of formal process for managing contract workflows is incredibly time-consuming. In fact, 76% of General Counsel rate their function’s productivity as ‘sub-optimal’.
In-house Legal teams are often juggling legal support requests from many areas of the business at any one moment. Every time they need to go back to the business for more information, sort through that information, and then direct the information to the correct Legal team member is time they are taking away from moving another legal matter forward.
How workflow automation software improves legal contract management
Progressive Legal departments have mitigated contract workflow issues through automation. By automating and standardising the process of requesting legal support, the Legal team knows that the right lawyer will get a complete brief, every time. And through automated approval and signature workflows, it’s always clear where a document is up to, and what (or who) is standing in the way of completion.
Legal functions who have successfully automated high-frequency legal processes are able to reap the benefits that their peers in Finance, Sales and HR have been seeing for years with their own specialised automation platforms designed to help them manage their workflows.
What to look for in legal workflow automation software
As technology has evolved over time, more and more companies are coming to market with workflow automation platforms. With this influx of software platforms that claim to be the best at automating workflows, it is critical that Legal departments choose the right workflow automation software for their business and function needs.
When searching for the best legal workflow automation software, in-house counsel need to ensure the vendor they partner with can empower Legal from the beginning of the contract lifecycle, through to execution, and beyond.
Plexus Gateway addresses the most common headaches that in-house Legal faces through enabling a quick beginning the contract automation workflow process with the click of a button, right from the inbox. The platform also speeds up the process of executing agreements, by automatically sending the relevant party the contract to approve and/or esign as soon as it is their turn in the approval workflow.
The platform also makes it easy for Legal teams to search, store and report on matters making it easier for Legal to communicate their value to the business and be viewed as a source of competitive advantage.
How Plexus Gateway helps delegations of authority
Ocado, the world’s largest dedicated online grocery retailer, have partnered with Plexus to simplify their complex approval workflows. Due to the size and scale of their business and their Legal team, Ocado’s delegation of authority matrix was complex and the business often became confused. They were finding that contracts were getting stuck in the middle of their process because it was not clear who was responsible for reviewing, approving and signing which agreements. Rather than feeling confident that what they were being asked to sign was correct, they were going back and forth to verify if the contract satisfied necessary requirements from other departments and team members first. This added to the length of time to execute agreements and slowed the whole business down.
Ocado understood their incumbent approval workflow was a massive cost and time-sink to the business and knew there had to be a better way to delegate authority with transparency.
Plexus Gateway could not only digitise Ocado’s legal support request process but also automate the complex approval workflows, digitising their existing manual process to drive speed and clarity.
With Plexus Gateway, Ocado users can brief, track, triage, collaborate, approve, sign, search, store and report all within the single integrated platform.
Legal workflow automation platforms, like Plexus Gateway, give your team the tools they should have always had to get the job done. Take a look how legal workflow automation has been implemented at companies like L'Oréal, and Sonnedix.