This article was first published in the ACC Docket, September 2016.
The cloud will make your legal team’s global operations more efficient. The cloud will also bring much-needed transparency to and increased collaboration with your company’s suppliers.
In this three-part blog series, I’ll take you behind the scenes into the world of cloud solutions. There’s something for everyone to help align strategy to corporate goals.
Imagine your company becomes a trending topic on Twitter. Not because your marketing team created a hilarious clip involving a kitten and your product that went viral but because one of your suppliers was the subject of an investigative report showing that it knowingly used child labor. Gulp. It may not be child labor, but it could be conflict minerals, environmental malfeasance, or any number of bad acts. Come to think of it — how much transparency do you really have with your suppliers?
Next stop the cloud
You know you have exposure. What can you as corporate counsel do to proactively mitigate this risk? The answer lies in the cloud. Let’s take a step back. Which cloud-based solutions does your legal team currently rely on? If there aren’t any yet, is it because your IT team is hesitant? If so, let’s be like Rocky Balboa with Apollo Creed and turn your IT team into an ally on the path to the cloud. In the cloud, there’s no hardware to install, maintain, or replace (or to scrounge money for in the IT budget). The updates happen in the background (without IT having to manage). If there is a training or support request, your team has 24×7 access to the provider (no more clogging up your internal IT ticketing system). Sales, marketing, HR, and customer service teams are already using cloud-based platforms to allow real-time global collaboration. Like a student who doesn’t turn 21 until late in the school year, it’s time for your legal team to join the party.
When it comes to cloud-based solutions for legal teams, as the sloth said, let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. If your team is not using an electronic signature solution, finish this section, stop reading this article (as hard as it may be!), and checkout DocuSign and Adobe Sign. There are other solutions, but I have used and been impressed with both. No lawyer ever said, “I can’t wait to chase down signatures for this transaction.” An electronic signature solution will dramatically speed up your signature process, which will make your team happier and give them more time to rejoice at no longer tracking their days in tenths of an hour.
Combining an electronic signature solution with a cloud-based non-disclosure agreement (NDA) solution is another high-ROI activity for your legal team.
As you know, companies generate an unbelievable volume of NDAs in their normal course. These agreements are generally template- based and aren’t negotiated. This makes them ideal for a cloud-based contract management solution. The creation, execution (when integrated with an electronic signature solution), and storage of NDAs in the cloud can be a quick win for your team and help build IT’s confidence in your future cloud plans.
Other cloud-based solutions for legal teams include case management software, outside counsel billing software, and intellectual property portfolio management software. These all have their place, but there is another area that is ripe for a cloud-based solution – supplier management.
Legal teams are well-positioned to take the lead on helping their companies manage one of their biggest potential risks – their suppliers. As strategic advisors and risk managers, legal teams should work collaboratively with procurement and finance to bring greater transparency to their key relationships.
In Part 2 of this series, you’ll learn the (sometimes tragic) downside of third-party risk, and how cloud-based solutions are your best risk and supplier management tools.
* Need a CLM primer? This SpendMatters whitepaper explains everything from repositories to work flows, approval paths, monitoring and much more.
For even more perspective, I encourage you to read another blog series called Improving Insights Into Third-Party Risk by Constantine Limberakis, Determine’s Vice President of Product Marketing.