Technology ought to grow and scale with a business. After all, technology should support business processes – including legal processes – not the other way around.
Businesses are in constant motion to stay ahead of the market. Acquisitions, reorganizations and divestitures fundamentally change workflows in every business department. In the legal shop, for example, attorneys move to other business units, or historical business units no longer exist.
In large organizations, these business changes occur even as the corporate legal department strives to move up the maturity model, define metrics and prove value to the business.
For Jerome Walters, the director of business operations for the PepsiCo law department, the catalyst for re-engineering might be boiled down to a single question: Why am I getting this legal invoice?
He conveyed his legal ops story both in a newly published enterprise legal management case study and also first hand in a webinar – ELM Optimization Case Study: System Reset Enhances PepsiCo’s e-Billing Efficiency – which was recorded and is available for viewing.
In brief, the business changes the company experience had a dramatic impact on legal operations. The matter management and e-billing systems supporting those operations “began to get away from us,” he notes. One result was legal invoices being routed to attorneys whose responsibilities had shifted.
“Imagine the confusion when an attorney or admin changes jobs or goes from one business unit to another and the workflow isn’t updated,” according to the case study.
Realigning Legal Tech
“The system began to get away from us,” and became “unmanageable,” said Mr. Walters in the webinar. In discussing the matter with the CounselLink strategic consulting team, he realized a dramatic shift in how the legal IT systems were configured needed to change.
The big shift? An eight month project to replacing the existing geographical and business unit orientation and completely re-aligns the systems by law department practice area.
The impact? Legal operations went from supporting 72 office and 40 workflows to just 10 offices and eight workflows.
4 Takeaways from the PepsiCo Legal Tech Project
In listening to Mr. Walter’s description and combing through the case study, four key lessons stand out for us:
1. Re-engineering the legal department. As the saying goes, go big or go home. The PepsiCo law department effectively re-engineered legal processes. “A light just went on,” says Mr. Walters in the case study. “If I can structure it by practice area, that’s going to simplify my reporting. Invoices would be applied to the appropriate practice area no matter which division it belongs to.”
2. Use change, to drive greater change. Legal speeding trends demonstrate, corporate legal continues to phase in alternative fee arrangements. “PepsiCo also took advantage of the opportunity to review fee structures so they could more easily accommodate alternative fee arrangements and to optimize rule sets to handle common issues such as firms billing for multiple timekeepers at a meeting that sometimes overlooked in the invoice approval process previously.”
3. Eliminate the wasted effort. It’s usually better to have and not need, but it’s not true when the needs encumber the systems. “The scoping process revealed that of PepsiCo’s more than 100 custom data fields, fewer than half were being used consistently. The unused fields were removed and the remainder were moved to a section where they are visible for older matters only. That change resulted in more focused and purposeful data collection, which greatly improved reporting.”
4. Sprinkle in some ease-of-use. Eighty percent of attorneys use email as a primary business tool. It’s familiar interface for communication and managing information. To facilitate the adoption of new technology in corporate legal – integrate the tools the lawyers are already using. “To the delight of its CounselLink users, PepsiCo took the opportunity provided by the reconfiguration process to also provide them with the Microsoft® Outlook® plug-in for CounselLink. This integration allowed users to access e-billing and matter management information directly through the Outlook application, drag and drop files from Outlook to CounselLink and eliminate the need for duplicate entry of calendar items in both CounselLink and Outlook.”
* * *
At the end of the project, “users reported significant improvement in satisfaction with the system, thanks to more efficient invoice processing with fewer workflows, easier and more accurate reporting” including:
- Better support workflow in the organization
- Improved legal metrics for reporting proving business value
- Reduced administration time and burden
Got a good example of a corporate legal technology project? Tell us how you’ve re-engineered your law department.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
3 Ways Corporate Legal Operations Use Metrics
Photo credit: Flickr, Joanna Poe, sign: time for a pepsi hdr (CC BY-SA 2.0)