The legal ops iron triangle: 3 sides to master for seamless growth
In project management, the “iron triangle” of cost, scope, and time provides stability and consistency to successful projects. But in legal ops departments, you have a different iron triangle to master: data analysis, efficiency, and collaboration.
Most corporate legal teams tend to tackle these 3 areas as separate components. But this leads to delays in growth — ones that can be avoided by developing an understanding of how these legal puzzle pieces connect to and influence each other.
The sooner you work on these critical iron triangle aspects in tandem, the sooner you can deliver greater business value and keep pace with organizational growth.
Increase productivity and time efficiency by reducing manual admin tasks
Admin tasks take up an average of 21 hours per week, according to one Brightpearl survey. Manual tasks like data entry and report creation inhibit the time legal ops members have for higher-value areas, like strategic spend management. Cumbersome, outdated processes also impact legal’s ability to work well with other departments.
For legal ops to reach its full potential and demonstrate value throughout the company, teams need to find ways to streamline their workflows for greater efficiencies. This can range from establishing clear procedures for legal knowledge management to evaluating the tools legal ops uses. Taking the time to thoughtfully assess whether your current processes and tech truly support your team’s goals is critical for successful growth.
For example, if you’re relying on spreadsheets, you can easily spend hours entering and reviewing data. Not to mention that 88% of spreadsheets have at least one error, which can impact your credibility with your colleagues and executives. In addition, data errors can have repercussions for decision-making across teams. It’s difficult to determine who entered what information and when, which adds more time to your plate when trying to resolve discrepancies.
The fastest way to relieve this strain and optimize everyone’s time is to bring on a comprehensive legal platform. The automations in legal software streamline previously labor-intensive processes, helping legal ops to work more efficiently and to better support different business units. For example, the American Trucking and Transportation Insurance Company got 55 hours a month back just by automating billing guideline enforcement.
These productivity benefits from legal tech also apply to the teams that legal ops works with, too — leading to a more efficient and collaborative company overall.
Get the green light to bring on legal tech with our guide to selling the investment in legal software.
Data analysis strengthens decision-making across the company
With objective data and legal reporting, legal can make smarter decisions that rely on hard evidence instead of educated guesswork. Additionally, sharing these concrete insights allows other business units to improve their own strategic decision-making, contributing to overall business health and success.
Improve data management ASAP
Even if you don’t have comprehensive legal tech yet, consistent data collection and a reporting process should be a priority. Incorporating concrete legal analytics helps prove the value of legal ops and corporate legal to the C-suite, which also boosts the team’s reputation as a strategic, business-minded partner.
The sooner you learn the ins and outs of legal business intelligence, the sooner you can start delivering greater business value to the company. If you’re waiting on legal tech, set up a clear foundation now. It will save you time in the long run — you don’t want to try putting together your data processes at the same time you’re trying to learn new tech.
Provide visibility with legal data reporting
Additionally, when you track and report on legal data, you can better support finance and executives with their own decision-making. Sharing concrete insight into what’s going on with legal spend better helps them get a clearer picture of the business’s overall finances. And with a global recession on the horizon, data-backed spend reports and forecasts will play a greater role in preserving the overall financial health of companies.
As frustrating as it can be to manually track and report on legal data, there is a silver lining. Limited capabilities in what data points you can measure, report customization, and forecasting serve as hard evidence as to why legal can benefit from investing in legal technology that can support the needs of your team and company.
Once new legal software is implemented, you can speed up the process with automated data collection that integrates with other platforms in real time. You’ll also be easily able to broaden the number of metrics you track as your data analysis and reporting skills grow.
Check out our 101 guide to legal reporting for more tips to nail down reporting fundamentals.
Improved collaboration strengthens legal’s ability to protect the business
It’s tough to get colleagues to trust your advice if they find legal difficult to work with. Case in point: 65% of non-legal employees surveyed by Onit admitted to bypassing legal’s policies and processes to get their work done, even though they know they are breaking corporate guidelines.
In order for legal to effectively mitigate risk and support business growth, the team needs to cultivate deeper trust and stronger partnerships across departments. By investing time and effort into cross-functional relationships from the beginning, productivity will increase and legal can remain confident in its ability to successfully protect the company—including when the team scales.
Legal ops can play a key role in boosting the overall reputation of corporate legal by focusing on resolving communication and timeliness issues with colleagues in other departments. As noted in Onit’s survey findings, 61% of non-legal employees claimed legal was unresponsive, while 40% said that the global shift to remote work made things even worse.
By resolving communication clashes and increasing transparency across business units, you’ll be able to show that legal is a partner who keeps work moving and a helpful resource for peers.
How legal tech can help
Using legal tech helps legal ops communicate more efficiently, which strengthens working relationships across teams.
See how legal software helps teams work smarter in the productive, intersecting triangle in this example with sales:
- Data analysis: Legal ops and sales connect to review contract data to determine which elements are the most effective. Additionally, legal ops identifies which contract items are most frequently contested in negotiations.
- Efficiency: Legal ops and sales store the contract data in an integrated legal platform, and legal ops uploads a clause library that contains pre-approved alternatives that sales can use if prospects push back. Lastly, legal ops enters pre-set contract standards into the software, which the platform then uses in AI-powered contract redlining.
- Collaboration: By working proactively with sales and leveraging data and legal tech, legal gains a reputation as a helpful partner instead of a roadblock in contract reviews.
A strong iron triangle sets legal ops up for a strong future; legal tech makes it easy
While the core components of your legal ops triangle will stay the same over time, the way you approach them will change as your team evolves and embraces new responsibilities. Different teams have different needs and challenges, so avoid the temptation to compare yourself too closely with other legal ops departments. Embrace your own legal ops path and journey, and you’ll see the greatest success.
Check out our “Top trends influencing legal operations in 2023” whitepaper to get ready to dive into new growth opportunities in the New Year.