Considerations when choosing between e-Billing & contract lifecycle management

Roycee Hasuko | January 21, 2021 | Articles

Think about the last time you bought a computer. Did you buy the first one you saw, or did you look at various models to make sure you got the features you value the most? We’re guessing you took some time to consider your options. Choosing technology for your legal department should work the same way.

Of course, with the wide range of technology available to legal ops professionals, it’s not always clear which tech is the best fit. Often, the decision comes down to either e-Billing or contract lifecycle management (CLM). Here’s how to choose between the two.

Start with Your Pain Points

Before deciding on new technology, figure out which pain points your team is currently facing. Then, rank those challenges in order of priority. Ranking your pain points will help you figure out whether or not new technology is helpful and, if so, which system is the right fit.

Ask yourself — do we have a process to automate? Technology cannot fix what you don’t have. If you lack standardized processes for invoices, tracking spend, managing vendors, etc., you might not be ready for tech upgrades just yet. At the same time, technology will not improve a bad process! For those who have a less than ideal process in place, adopting a new solution is the perfect time to revisit the processes and see how technology can provide automation and facilitate greater efficiencies. Our Legal Operations Maturity Model eBook can help you prepare.

Once you’ve identified your pain points, decide which ones are your top priority. Keep in mind you won’t be able to solve all your problems with technology right away. A list of prioritizations not only helps in finding the first foundational technology for your legal team, but also helps inform a technology roadmap that can be addressed in stages.

Processes to Improve with e-Billing

Often, legal teams turn to e-Billing when they realize they don’t know exactly how much they are spending on each outside firm, in which geographical areas, on which types of matters, etc. If you’re looking to improve any of these processes, e-Billing could be the right solution for you.

Invoice Workflow

Processing invoices manually is time-consuming and error-prone. Think about how often an invoice gets delayed because it’s stuck on someone’s desk or buried in an inbox. Or how difficult it is to review each line of an invoice to make sure each item adheres to your agreement.

With an e-Billing platform, you can create an automated invoice workflow. Not only can you route invoices to each approver at the right time, but you also can track its progress so you always know its current status.

You can also use e-Billing to automatically reduce or reject invoices that do not adhere to your legal billing guidelines. Instead of manually reviewing each UTBMS task code and timekeeper rate, you can let your e-Billing system do it for you. Automated review saves you time and ensures you take advantage of all your alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) and volume discounts.

“We’ve seen a 6% reduction in overall legal spend in the first year of using SimpleLegal, and we’ve significantly improved the bill receipt, review, and approval process.” – Trevor Uffelman, General Counsel and Chief Claims Officer at ATTIC RRG

And, if you integrate your e-Billing system with accounts payable, you can speed up the timeline and keep invoices more secure. No more sensitive information floating around in unsecured inboxes.

Vendor Management

When you work with a lot of different vendors, it’s hard to monitor work quality. An e-Billing platform gives you better control over vendor management by tracking key data points for each vendor or outside firm you work with.

An e-Billing platform helps you make data-driven decisions about your partners. Consider tracking metrics, such as:

  • Time to process invoices
  • Actual spend compared to estimates
  • Spend by matter
  • Matters by firm
  • Matters resolved successfully
  • Average hourly rate by firm

Instead of relying on a gut feeling, you can turn to the numbers to determine which vendors and outside firms produce the best work within the designated budget.

Spend Management

If your legal department struggles to understand where the money is going, an e-Billing solution with spend management can be a game-changer. Not only can it help you gain full visibility into how your budget is used, but it can also help you more accurately forecast future spend.

Keep an eye on all four types of legal accruals: accrual estimates, pending invoices, invoices with missing information, and rejected invoices. When you look at the full picture, you can avoid financial surprises and tighten up your spend.

Another major benefit of e-Billing platforms is the reporting capability. Reports can put legal ops ahead of the curve. Legal tends to lack metrics that prove value, but spend reports can bring clarity to budget allocation by categorizing spend by timekeeper rates, matter, practice area, and more. Plus, reports allow legal ops to identify savings opportunities, such as volume discounts, AFAs, and preferred panel rates.

Processes to Improve with Contract Lifecycle Management

Companies with a major focus on sales and procurement, such as property management or SaaS companies, tend to be contract-heavy. With so many contracts to keep track of, contract lifecycle management (CLM) software can be a serious time-saver.

Contract Workflow

With a CLM system, you’ll never lose track of where a contract is in the process — creation, negotiation, revisions, compliance checks, etc. — or who is working on it. When you track the entire process, you get a closer look at how much time contracts spend in each step, which, in turn, helps you identify ways to work more efficiently. For example, you might find that nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) spend more time in the negotiation phase, which tells you legal and sales should work together on NDA templates.

Some CLM platforms allow you to take advantage of contract automation as well. Once you set parameters for different types of contracts or clauses, you can leverage AI tools to automatically review contracts to rate their risk level, flag issues, edit clauses, and more.

Collaboration Between Legal Ops and Sales

Sales and legal both deal with contracts, but they don’t always work closely together. CLM platforms can connect the two departments by integrating with sales tools. For example, an Outlook integration would eliminate the need to email back-and-forth and jump between systems.

When sales and legal collaborate during the early stages of a deal, legal can minimize risk while still giving sales room to negotiate with prospects. Legal can even use CLMs to store pre-approved contracts and create clause libraries that give sales a better starting point for negotiations.

Does your legal team work with sales often? Check out our popular blog post on how legal ops and sales can improve contract management together!

Find the Right Solution with SimpleLegal

Regardless of which solution stands out to you, SimpleLegal can help. Contact us to set up a time to talk through your pain points and specific needs. Once we understand the processes you’re trying to improve, we can help you find the right solution for your organization.