Practice Management

Best practices for integrating new tools into a law department’s portfolio

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Ari Kaplan

Ari Kaplan. Photo by Lauren Hillary.

Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Oliver Round, managing counsel, product owner for contract lifecycle management and co-head of legal data management and advisory at BNY Mellon.

Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your various roles with BNY Mellon.

Oliver Round: I am an attorney focused on contract management and extraction of data from our corporate agreements. I recently became the product owner for contract lifecycle management, and since the bank has so many different business units, which manage contracts in unique ways, my objective is to help the organization create uniformity in its approach. I am also responsible for ensuring that the tools and processes that we are building and implementing are suitable for all of the company’s lines of business.

Ari Kaplan: How does the legal team leverage new tools and platforms?

Oliver Round: Our legal team is very innovative and uses an array of tools to improve the way we work. For example, we leverage technology to accelerate the contracting process by streamlining drafting and tracking agreements from editing to approval. Our clients receive faster service and a better experience. We also use artificial intelligence to enhance onboarding and communicate more effectively through a single platform.

Ari Kaplan: What criteria do you use when assessing new technology?

Oliver Round headshotOliver Round, managing counsel, product owner for contract lifecycle management and co-head of legal data management and advisory at BNY Mellon.

Oliver Round: The main criterion for any new tool we are considering is whether it is adoptable and something that people need. We also look at the team developing the technology because we have to work with them in addition to simply using their platform. Often, if the company and the people you are working with are not aligned with your vision, it will not be an effective combination. We also look at ways to integrate any new tool into our broader tech stack. BNY Mellon is a data-driven company, so each new piece of technology needs to fit into our ecosystem and help to solve problems.

Ari Kaplan: How you secure executive buy-in for new applications?

Oliver Round: Our approach to securing executive buy-in varies because different lines of business have different needs. It was clear that everyone wanted to improve the contracting process, and all of the executives and employees want to conduct business faster, so implementing a new CLM system was an easy win.

Ari Kaplan: What are some best practices for integrating new tools into the enterprise’s portfolio?

Oliver Round: While it differs depending on the technology, it is generally best to go slow. Like let the tool organically be adopted. If you force people to do change, they will resist. Instead, ensure that different stakeholders contribute to the process as you are selecting the vendor and the technology. Include them on that journey. Also, it is important to recognize that if you are implementing a new system that will change the day-to-day work of an individual, it will be disruptive and require more extensive planning. If it is, however, a minor shift, start small and give people the chance to use it and provide feedback. Let them experience the possibilities and earn small wins. That approach allows adoption to occur naturally. In addition, plan internal road shows and highlight internal successes.

Ari Kaplan: How do you encourage legal professionals and business professionals to use the tools you are offering?

Oliver Round: We encourage users to apply any new tools to their work directly as a way of showing them how quickly the technology can help them eliminate time-consuming manual tasks that they would rather not perform. People get very excited about that change and especially when we show them the data around the impact that small adjustments can have on the entire workflow. Once you actually have data around time-consuming activities and can see how easily they are reduced or eliminated, they realize how powerful technology can be, and it results in a complete reallocation of resources.

Ari Kaplan: Does the increased work from home activity impact the way you select technology?

Oliver Round: Absolutely. The fact that we have moved to a remote environment and flourished shows that remote collaboration and digitization are now table stakes. We want to make sure that an employee can approve a change of contract for a mobile phone, if necessary, without the need to log in to our system. All technology needs to adapt to a mobile, remote working environment with flexible arrangements, which will continue.

Ari Kaplan: How does the organization determine whether a deployment of technology is a success?

Oliver Round: Adoption and whether a given approach or technology solves a problem. We also study metrics associated with these efforts to validate that success.

Ari Kaplan: Where do you see technology having the biggest impact on the law department going forward?

Oliver Round: Law departments will continue to innovate and use technology to be more efficient. We are always being asked to do more with less, which is the nature of the business, and the tools are progressing to help us adapt and focus on tasks that require higher-value critical thinking.

Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.

Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.

This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.

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