When momentum is on your side and you are winning the game of soccer, do you want your coach to slow down the game or just let you play according to pre-determined plays?
Well, recently, the procurement leader of a large enterprise shared the performance metrics his board is measuring his (and his team’s) performance. On the top of his performance metrics is the deal cycle, i.e., how fast his company procures goods and services to move the business fast. The speed is the name of the game!
During the further conversation, this seasoned procurement professional revealed that if the company’s legal team (read, contracting team) feels the urgency, he would have fewer sleepless nights! He added that he understands why contract creation, processing, and negotiations consume time – but he also felt that there got to be a better way. Overall, he wished that legal services improve for their internal customers, i.e. employees – makes perfect sense! It felt like the soccer team is asked to play a fast game, but the coach keeps interrupting the players and changing the play every time – slowing the game down.
In the post-lunch session, during my meeting with a senior leader of the legal group, I found out that they recognize the problem, but they have their own challenges. The vocal group head took it up to unveil the whole process and listed those challenges: the company is growing at 20% YoY, but the legal budget has not grown for several years; the business doesn’t provide enough information in the email while requesting contracts, etc. On top of all, the legal team spends significant time in managing non-negotiable contracts like NDAs, employee compensation contracts (based on the jurisdiction) and services contracts. The legal group leader wants to improve legal services to internal customers, but she feels constrained.
Going back to soccer metaphor; the coach does not really want to interrupt the team either, but the team did not decide the play in advance which is why the coach has to intervene and guide the team.
For all the obvious reasons, it is high time to treat legal function within an organization similar to other support function, i.e., IT, HR or admin. Why can’t we use the technology to empower the employees to create and manage their own contracts, of course under watchful eyes of the legal? Let the legal team define the plays for employees using pre-approved templates, clauses and definite approval process. Since the language is pre-defined, there is no additional legal exposure for the company. If the other party wants a different language, thereby forcing the change in play, the contract will have to go to legal (and others as required) approvals.
Just like how an employee creates an IT ticket in an ITSM tool like ServiceNow, let’s devise a fresh strategy wherein an employee can create her own contracts, track them and is accountable for renewal and amendments as well. The metric for Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) should be an improvement in the deal cycle. The legal should act as a true coach and watch the game from the sidelines. The play strategies should be decided in advance; but in certain situations, the coach will take a time-out and guide the team.
Such an approach can dramatically improve employee satisfaction for legal services expediting the deal cycles-procurement and sales alike! And finally, we will take the game by the scruff of the neck!
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Content Source: Aavenir