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Document automation

Don’t be busy, just be productive: how document automation can support you and your business

REUTERS/Russell Boyce

In today’s fast-moving business environment, an efficient in-house legal department can be key to company’s commercial success. You want a best in class legal department to ensure that you can give quick, well-founded advice and excellent service to your internal clients. This foundational structure should form the backbone of your department to enable and empower you and your team to drive your organisation’s goals and be well-positioned as a valued partner and key facilitator of business.

However, while you want to get things done, certain factors exist within legal departments that can act as a barrier to success. The pressure to accomplish more with less is felt by most, and closer scrutiny of legal budgets only adds to that pressure. The need—and drive—to keep up with requests from internal clients can often mean there’s increasingly less time to spend on other important tasks, which undermines the quality of service offered by your department. In a fast-paced, high-growth environment—managing shifting priorities across different jurisdictions and time zones can be a key challenge for in-house departments. Ultimately, there is limited time for laborious tasks—and drafting documents is a prime example. Lawyers can spend up to 60 percent of their time drafting, so it is unsurprising that many admit to lacking the time to check their work—which can have enormous cost and risk implications to your business.

Modern lawyers need modern tools in order to work smarter, faster and enable them to conduct business. That means that not only should these tools create efficiencies and provide return on investment, but they should also be simple to use, integrate with existing software, workflows and processes, and be aesthetically pleasing.

Adopting a document automation solution dramatically reduces the effort, time and costs involved in drafting. It also helps to reduce risk. Once the initial template build is complete, the opportunity for human error to creep into the drafting process is significantly reduced. In short, a good automation solution should do the heavy lifting for you and liberate your legal team to work on more tasks that add more value. Adopting a document automation solution can save up to 82 percent of the time spent to manually draft a document adding real, quantifiable value to your business’ bottom line.

To unlock these benefits, you need a solution that you and your team can—and will—quickly adopt. Introducing new technology can often provoke anxiety in the workplace, so the look and feel of your chosen solution are crucial considerations. First impressions count when it comes to new tools, and lawyers and other business users must be impressed by a software solution to stop it becoming shelf-ware. Foster a sense of familiarity by choosing a solution that integrates with the platforms and software that users currently use, such as Microsoft Office. Even better if your chosen tool speaks to other internal systems and can, for example, pull customer details from your customer relationship management system to populate contracts. Compromising on the very basics of your chosen solution shouldn’t be an option. There’s no value in cheaper software that goes unused because lawyers hate its look and feel.

Technology should empower people in your business to handle routine transactions and manage risk, as well as better enable internal collaboration on matters and documents. The right solution for your business will enable senior lawyers to embed best practice and advice into the document workflow, allowing junior lawyers to train at the point of need and ensuring that your team can generate best-in-class documents at a much more competitive margin. Furthermore, a good solution should enable you to leverage your team’s expertise across the business. The legal team’s use of document automation software empowers teams to conduct their business more quickly and efficiently. Sales teams can self-serve—going from draft to signature while on the move—with the confidence they are working with pre-approved and legally reviewed templates.

These benefits, combined with the ability to gather data and utilise analytics, can provide your organisation with enormous competitive advantages. Pulling data on the most negotiated clauses, or proportions of different types of document, can help your business reduce risk and ultimately save money. Data reporting and analytics functionality can help you monitor and understand what is happening right across the contract life cycle. Analytics can help to identify bottlenecks and challenges that users encounter during the workflow. It can also be used to track user adoption, user activity, and content usage. Plus, it can review performance against agreed service-level agreements for document turnaround time.

Document automation can help to ensure your legal department’s position within the business as one that works smarter, faster and is a valued facilitator of achieving commercial goals and targets. It can liberate you from the sense that there isn’t enough time in the day to handle the seemingly ever-growing list of urgent matters and queries that cross your desk. You can have a best-in-class legal department and spend more time on the areas that provide more value—while reducing risk and costs to your organisation.

For more information about document automation, click here for in-house.

For more information about document automation, click here for law firms.

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