By Babar Hayat, head of tech and transformation at Konexo and Robbie Smith, technical consultant at Konexo
Many in-house legal teams have access to some fairly powerful technology already without realising it. Although it’s not branded “legal tech”, often technology used within a business can be adapted for legal processes.
In our experience, it can be easy to recommend a new piece of technology but sometimes the best strategy for clients is to make the most of what they currently have… and put the shiny new (sometimes expensive) legal tech products on the shelf for the time being!
Perhaps the most underused technology many in-house legal teams have access to is Microsoft 365. Using tools like SharePoint, Power Automate, Power Apps and PowerBI, you can create some truly impressive legal process solutions:
SharePoint Online – The one stop shop for document storage, knowledge sharing, trackers and more.
With a plethora of functionality that can be tailored to handle legal processes, SharePoint is a great starting point for Intake and Requests Management, Document Collaboration and Knowledge Management. When used in tandem with other tools like Power Automate, and PowerApps, you can create custom and powerful automated processes for your team.
Power Automate – A robust workflow engine to automate tasks from simple reminder emails to complex integrations with systems outside of Microsoft.
Power Automate’s drag and drop interface makes it simple to use and often works out of the box with existing Microsoft licenses.
Power Apps – Microsoft’s answer to low/no code citizen app development.
Power Apps makes it quick and easy to create powerful and user-friendly applications by using a drag and drop interface. You can customise the apps to look and feel exactly how you would want them to, which is a great way to make sure the app is as functional as possible for your team.
PowerBI – Making data driven decisions is critical for making impactful changes to your legal team’s processes.
When data on existing processes is tracked properly, PowerBI can be used to analyse problem processes and identify potential causes. Creating a dashboard of data visualisations for the wider business is a great way to provide transparency on your team’s processes, output and availability – avoiding the weekly request for spreadsheet reports!
IT Ticketing Systems
Another area to consider are IT systems used to manage service requests. Often tools like ServiceNow and Zendesk can be used for effective legal request and matter management. Including out of the box automated workflows, approval steps and data visualisations.
The benefits from looking within
It’s not just the price tag of technology that you should take into account when choosing tech to adopt for a legal processes. You should also think about the cost for searching, testing and onboarding the technology.
These areas can take considerable time, cost and resources to ensure it is done right. Not to mention the added issue of justifying this to internal stakeholders, which can be a challenge in itself.
Using the technology already available within your business will likely be far more cost effective, even if there are costs involved in adding to your existing licenses with suppliers.
Onboarding is complete
Onboarding lots of new technology typically requires a lot of back and forth with several stakeholders who need to review it before it can be used. Your IT team may have some lengthy review processes to onboard new technology, however, if you are using something already available within the business, you can get started without any delay.
IT support is in place
One of the reasons, among many, that IT review technology before it is onboarded is that ultimately they will likely be responsible for supporting it.
This means they need to be absolutely comfortable with the technology so when users call the support desk, they know exactly what to do. If you are using technology which is already supported by IT, then not only can you skip the process of setting up support lines within IT, you may get added support from them on testing the existing tech for your legal processes.
Already approved by internal stakeholders
Apart from IT there are many others which will have a vested interest in the success of applying technology to legal processes.
The first are possibly the most crucial, the users of the technology, who must be persuaded to adopt it if the technology implementation is to have any chance of success. Where users are using technology they may already be familiar with, it will make this process far easier.
Other stakeholders like the budget holder will be supportive of maximising use of what has already been purchased. Risk teams will save time in not needing to negotiate a contract with a new external supplier. Overall, while you should engage with all of these stakeholders as part of using internal technology, it makes the conversation easier if the change is smaller than onboarding a new technology supplier.
It is quicker to trial and test
Finally, if you have the technology already available to you, you can test features against your requirements without having to commit to any costs. An example of this might be to create a contract management system in Microsoft to see what features you may eventually need from a full CLM system. It’s also a great way of getting users used to new processes around contract management, making the jump to a CLM system much easier to manage.
Konexo is the alternative legal and compliance services arm of Eversheds Sutherland. To find out more see here.
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