Changemaking in the enterprise: stories & strategies

The ELC session is curated by Vahura and Agami. We followed the Chatham house rules wherein featured speakers - Navneet Hrishikesan from CISCO, Poornima Sampath from Tata Sons, Thomas Thoppil from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Pramod Rao (via video) from ICICI Bank took a group of over 30 general counsel, senior legal professionals and legal tech entrepreneurs through the latest technology employed, matrix models on segmentation of work and shared insights on workflow designs used internally.

We also shared data analysis and trends gathered by Vahura on Corporate legal budgets and the use of legal technology at in-house legal teams. Sanjay Seth from IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Company and Shashwat Sikka from Provakil, a leading litigation software provider, and the 2018 Agami Prize winner, then took us through a discussion of data and workflow automation for legal teams. The session concluded with other enterprise leaders sharing their own success stories and key takeaways.

A few interesting points from the session were:

1) Corporate law departments find themselves at the forefront of an evolutionary wave that dramatically changes their role and their priorities in the legal industry.

Typically, the legal departments start at the “Appendix Phase” where they play a very transactional/ secretarial role, merely ensuring that businesses functioned in a legally compliant manner. Once this phase is mastered, the department then moves into the “Acquiring Phase” where legal performs its activities as a separate function with the rampant acquisition of other groups within the organization, however, the activities remain transactional to an extent. The final transition is into the “Maturing Phase” where legal departments start adding value outside ‘Legal’ and are in itself becoming transformational. It’s during the phase that the General Counsels (“GC”) become business equals and have a seat at the table to contribute directly to drive business success.

Some of the ways legal departments can reach the Maturing phase is by:

  • Understanding the environment

  • Developing an ability to influence

  • Developing their people, and

  • Building a strategy

2) One way to do this is by relying on legal operations as a multi-disciplinary function within the legal department.

By doing so, the GC can transition the department from the current state to a more mature state where advanced tactical structure, systems and processes are in place giving legal a better grip on the overall business.

3) A great advantage of using technology as the lead in a changemaking process is that technology can be the most non-intrusive way to be intrusive and bring about deep change.

4) A good first step is to set a base goal to digitise documents, before moving to higher-level digitisation goals.

5) A three-step insight process that a GC can follow for the digitizing process is:

  • Segmentation of work (Work Portfolio Segmentation);

  • Automate, optimize and digitize workstreams within the organization (Digitization of Work Streams); and

  • Data analytics and Reports driving efficacy and new business models (Data Analytics - Management Reports)

6) The session also covered three essential items GCs ought to consider when identifying the digitizing and innovative solutions:

  • The identified solution should solve a real problem that the business faces;

  • The GC should be mindful of the cost that the organization incurs in the current form, and ensure the identified solution be more cost-effective than the current alternatives; and

  • Involve the business team from the time of solution ideation to implementation process, especially in the early stages.

7) Interestingly, according to the data collected by Vahura through surveys and interviews with over 130+ India GCs, 29% of the GCs said that they have access to the right legal technology and have implemented it well (Category A), whereas 42% of the GCs have access to the right legal technology but it’s not implemented well or not frequently used (Category B). One main reason for the success of Category A, in utilising technology well is

  • They have a proper change-making process in place;

  • Change tends to be proactive as opposed to reactive; and

  • Communication is planned well and GCs are able to address the cynicism which may be caused due to false starts.

8) In deciding on whether to build or buy a legal technology system, in addition to cost, one must assess:

  • the time to implement and transition; and

  • the priority of constantly evolving aspects of such technology like AI, new database structures, plugging into new portals etc.

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