As a legal professional, you're likely familiar with the many demands on your time and resources. From managing contracts and legal documents to communicating with clients and stakeholders, there's always something that needs your attention. To stay productive and efficient, it's essential to streamline your legal department's workflows by leveraging automation. In this post, we'll share five tips to help you do just that.
One of the most effective ways to streamline your legal department's workflows is to automate routine tasks. For example, you can use software tools like Streamline AI to automatically intake and manage requests from various different business applications like Slack, Salesforce, email and more, loop in cross-functional business teams based on pre-set conditions, collect approvals, and generate reports. By automating these tasks, you can free up more time to focus on high-value activities that require your expertise.
There are many low/no-code solutions, like Zapier, now available on the market that enable you to connect and create automated actions between many different business applications. These solutions allow you to bypass having to write code to have these systems interoperate. For example, you can create a simple program that automatically creates a task for you in a productivity tool like Asana every time you receive an email from a certain person. The one thing to note is that these systems do require some minimum level of maintenance. From time to time, if you make changes to how you are using a system, the change may unintentionally break one of these workflows. The good news is that you will be alerted when there is an issue so you can address any problems.
Legal Process Management (LPM) tools like Streamline AI have no-code functionality that allow you to use logic to automate approval workflows, when to add business stakeholders as followers to requests, and more. The automation available in LPM is more specific in addressing the types of workflows that are most likely to arise from how the legal team works with business requestors.
Many business tools you currently use also have workflow functionality. For example, you can auto-create reminders, notifications, and more, to be triggered at certain times in Slack. You can install plugins, such as Boomerang for Gmail, that send you notifications if you haven’t received a response to a certain email that you’ve sent, so you don’t have to mentally keep track of as many things and, as a result, less will fall through the cracks. If your company currently uses Calendly, which allows you to automatically share certain aspects of your calendar to make scheduling meetings much less painful, you can install a Calendly plugin for Gmail so that you can directly access the right Calendly link directly from the Compose New Message panel.
Even the best tools cannot magically create sense from chaos if you don’t already have clear processes delineated for how t high volume matters and tasks should be addressed. For example, you can create a standard process for contract review and approval, creating a playbook for how certain terms should be negotiated in high volume agreements your team handles, outlining how you want outside counsel invoices to be approved, when cross-functional stakeholders need to be notified and kept in the loop, and when they need to formally approve a matter. This approach can help ensure that errors and delays are reduced, increase efficiency and speed to resolution, and make the work for the legal team feel much less chaotic. Remember, the pain you feel now will only get worse once workload increases or people leave the team and you need to onboard someone new.
Finally, it's essential to continuously evaluate and optimize your workflows. This process involves analyzing your department's performance metrics and identifying areas for improvement. For example, you might find that certain tasks take longer than expected or that some team members are struggling to keep up with their workload. Streamline AI has an out-of-the-box 360 reporting dashboard that presents actionable metrics tailored for the GC, a practice area lead, and individuals on the legal team. By identifying these issues proactively, you can get ahead of issues and manage the department more effectively.
In conclusion, leveraging automation and streamlining your legal department's workflows is essential for staying productive and efficient. By automating routine tasks, leveraging no-code solutions, establishing clear processes, and continuously evaluating and optimizing your existing workflows and processes, you can improve your department's performance and achieve better results.