This article was first published in the ACC Docket, August 2016.
In Part 1, we covered the idea of technology as both the catalyst for – and result of – “boundaryless” organizations, and why legal needs to embrace expertise in these integrated systems. In Part 2, we look at how people are also becoming silo-less through the power of self-service.
Employees without boundaries: Going self-service.
To go back to Jack Welch, he elaborated on “boundaryless companies” and described them as those removing the barriers between traditional functions, and finding great ideas, anywhere within an organization, or from outside the organization, and then sharing them with everyone in the company.
Today, companies subscribing to this ideology are looking to technological solutions including self-service tools. Companies have self-service portals for managing customer relationships and sales information allowing for input from different stakeholders and more visibility into the customer relationship and control over the lifecycle. These technologies help paint a more robust picture of prospects and customers leveraging different sets of eyes, ears, and skills.
Companies also have many other solutions in or similar to the self-service genre. These technologies are being adopted as successful business tools because of the ability to empower stakeholders, eliminate silos, and sift the best information even within even the most complex organizations. In turn, this data drives positive results for the business.
Since I work for a SaaS provider, I’m very familiar with the fairly infant concept of self-service contracting.
Self-service contracting gives employees the tools to initiate contracts with preapproved language and to provide input on necessary areas, while still giving senior executives and legal teams the control they need to provide employees only with an appropriate level of information and authority, and to efficiently review and validate these contracts as normal. Self-service contracting is an example of a tool that can help break down silos and systemize a process (contracting) while allowing for more direct and immediate interaction from a variety of groups to encourage the best information to come forward.
Corporate counsel across nearly every industry need to understand the benefits and risks to these types of tools, and be prepared to leverage them as part of standard processes and procedures in this current age and beyond.
Self-service, not alone
Self-service doesn’t mean working in a vacuum. To the contrary, it can lead to more cohesive processes and procedures. Self-service contract lifecycle management can maintain the security legal departments demand, while also giving other members of the business team the tools needed to help move business quickly.
Many technologies enable companies to reap incentives through increased visibility while also protecting against risk — contract management technologies are just one example. We live in a dynamic technological age and it’s always interesting to see how certain technology tools become more widely adopted as an integral part of business process.
Similar to the increased level of Six Sigma adoption after Welch made the existing concept popular during his tenure at GE, we’re likely to see widespread adoption of certain technologies in the next few years.
Only time will tell which technologies become standard, but the race has certainly begun, and my bet is that broader enablement is here to stay.