Source This article was first published in the ACC Docket, August 2016.
This two-part blog series explores the concept of the “boundaryless” enterprise, and the role that legal plays in this seamless world. In Part 1, we’ll get into how technology is essential for legal teams in not only managing all that interconnectedness, but the risks and potential that come with it.
Good business processes and systems breed successful businesses. As corporate counsel, we must be more than simply attuned with our company’s systems; we must be experts in them.
We can help enable systems across our organizations and ensure these systems are integrated, updated, and refined. We’re well positioned to mobilize these business processes because we serve in a variety of functions touching many groups. Since systems help establish a degree of uniformity and more potential certainty in outcomes/management of risk, we also have great incentive to do so to be successful in our roles.
Technology, sometimes seen as a foe, can also be a major ally in gathering and connecting data, which equates to more control — and restful nights for corporate counsel.
Inarguably, Jack Welch propelled General Electric to new levels of success during his tenure as CEO. Welch leveraged processes to create this success. He also tried to create what he called a “boundaryless organization.” Welch knew free flowing communications and supporting processes would accelerate opportunity and growth, and he also had the foresight to understand the ever increasing importance in the evolving corporate world.
In an article last year in the Harvard Business Review, Ron Ashkenas, consultant and author, argued Welch was one of the first to appreciate how technology and globalization would have an enormous impact on how businesses function. Welch realized that in order to succeed, companies would need to collaborate and share information on a scale and scope never imagined before. He knew today was coming — a day in which businesses span the globe connected by a web of technology with the ever pressing need to gather more and better data, create actionable business intelligence, and drive and monitor results.
I speak with other in-house counsel regularly and we talk about processes, procedures, and organizational hurdles to working through and finalizing transactions. It’s true that these processes and procedures can feel like necessary evils at certain times since they require coordination and time. Two groups may be required to work side-by-side to finalize a project, but they could be operating out of different locations, using different databases, and approaching the task in a completely incongruent manner and without good communication.
It’s no secret we, as lawyers, are often perceived as slowing things down if we’re not efficiently interacting with a process or driving it forward. In today’s world, technology is required to keep with the pace, so we as lawyers must lead organizations in harnessing these tools.
Don’t fight alone
If you’re working in a business that maintains siloed units and fragmented processes, you’re not alone; most do. Luckily, today we have more advanced technology tools to help us break barriers and empower processes — you’re not alone in the fight.
As legal teams, we must understand the tools being used within our organization so we can monitor each tool for unique risks, quickly identify trouble spots, glean insights, and manage processes. Integrated systems mean that we can now break down boundaries and enable technology to gather more immediate and direct input from stakeholders.
It also means more real-time visibility into business and an enhanced ability to control functions and propel outcomes.