When we think of ‘legal’ in terms of a business, the image that often comes to mind is one room full of corporate lawyers and legal experts arguing over the best ways to deal with contract disputes and the best strategies for reducing liability within a commercial operation.
The Division Of Labour
The work of the Legal Department is essential to the success of any business as a whole. This is the business area that has responsibility for the agreements that govern all business relationships – from a company's workforce to their suppliers – and therefore intersects closely with every other business area.
It doesn’t matter whether the business in question is a giant international conglomerate, or a small independent start-up – the tasks are the same, whether they are undertaken by a large team of legal professionals, or a single team member who has other responsibilities.
Those tasks include:
- Sourcing or providing legal advice
- Contract review
- Dealing with litigation
- Resource management
- Work prioritisation
- Technology management
These tasks are divided into two main function categories:
- The first consists of ‘Legal work’, or the actual handling of legal issues within the business. Legal advice, litigation, and the review of contracts are all part of the legal work that happens within the Legal Department.
- The second– the resource management, technology management, compliance and work prioritisation – is classified as ‘Legal Operations'.
In fact Legal Operations provide the structural integrity for the Legal Department. The elements of function that fit the Legal Operations category make legal work possible. If we think of the Legal Department as a Formula One racing team, then the legal experts are the drivers, and Legal Operations are the ones responsible for building and maintaining the car.
The Specifics Of Legal Operations
Digging deeper into the work of Legal Operations, we find a distinct business area within the Legal Department that requires careful management. The more careful the management, the higher the level of success this business area can help to create.
Every industry is subject to some form of regulation, whether that is in the form of governmental requirements, or industry-driven oversight. The upholding of compliance is, in essence, one of the vital checks and balances that is needed for running any business. Not only does it ensure that potential legal issues are either avoided or resolved quickly, it also ensures that cost-effectiveness is achieved by keeping everyone on-message, on-task, and on-track.
Resources can take many forms and are not simply the consumables that need to be regularly re-stocked. The workforce is a core resource, as are the parts and materials required for any manufacturing that is undertaken.
Legal Operations is intricately involved in the workflow of the Legal Department. In conjunction with determining the deployment and application of resources, Legal Operations generally prioritises tasks and workload within the area of legal work.
As a core part of the business operation, the Legal Department has very specific needs when it comes to technology. Systems and processes must have functionality that can achieve particular goals, with a greater security than in most other areas of the organisation.
The management of technology therefore falls under the remit of Legal Operations, as the technology facilitates the work itself.
Creating Value In Legal Operations With Contract Management Software
With everything that Legal Operations must handle and deliver, Contract Management Software provides a single, unified solution for the Legal Department that also serves to create value. The efficiencies provided by a Contract Management Solution, such as Scanmarket, create scalability which, in turn, enables value creation.
The impact that this approach can have on a business should not be underestimated. In the past, Legal Departments have been regarded as a necessary expenditure rather than a source of profit. Though the Legal Department is not directly making sales, the implementation of a Contract Management Solution means that Legal Operations can deliver significant increases in profitability.
The centralisation of legal documentation provided by Contract Management Software drastically reduces the time-consumption involved in both Legal Operations and legal work. Contract data is one of the most valuable resources of any business, so collecting the data in a centralised repository creates a resource pool that can be deployed in a wide variety of ways to achieve a range of objectives and goals.
In fact a Contract Management Software uses permission-based access protocols, meaning that authorised personnel can access the data pool at any time, from any location, further increasing efficiency while enhancing business continuity planning.
Automation of business processes is a significant method of boosting efficiency and, when implemented by Legal Operations, creates space within the workflow to allow for a strategy that is more pro-active and productive in nature. Contract Management Software automates a number of administrative tasks, including:
Workflow: A fully customizable and automatic system of notifications and alerts ensures that the right task is delivered to the right person at the right time.
Audit trails: The automatic creation of audit trails keeps the organisation fully transparent, and the personnel fully accountable. In terms of compliance, a comprehensive audit trail ensures that industry regulations are met, internal processes and procedures are in alignment, and breaches of protocol can be identified and met with remediation at an early stage, further minimising risk.
The generation of actionable data is where Legal Operations can contribute to the creation of new and enhanced business opportunities, as Contract Management Software applies highly accurate, customisable reporting facilities to the centralised pool of data to deliver information of commercial value. These data insights could pertain to the unexploited potential of Intellectual Property, further business opportunities associated with existing parties, or new Intellectual Property arising from the content of the centralised data pool.
Scalability Is Key
One of the biggest benefits that Contract Management Software can deliver to Legal Operations is scalability. The customizable and configurable nature of the solution means that it can be used in a way that is closely moulded to the unique needs of the organization, while ensuring that operation can be scaled up or down in accordance with market demand. This helps to future-proof the business, delivering increased efficiency and profitability in the long-term.