Im Gespräch: Für unser Sommer-Special haben wir mit Vertreter:innen aus 8 Unternehmen über ihre Legal Tech Projekte gesprochen. Darunter Andrea Schwartz, Counsel Global Employment Law Group bei Western Union, die Ihre ungeschönten Erfahrungen mit uns geteilt hat!
Editorial Staff: Andrea, how do you decide where digitization should start? In which area, at what point, in order to achieve what?
Andrea Schwartz: From my point of view, there are two main drivers to digitize the Legal Team in global companies. On the one hand, it is the need to increase efficiency and save resources, and on the other hand, it is the need to standardize and harmonize global tasks.
Before deciding where digitization should start, it is essential to get an overview of the current trends and the various offered solutions. This is a dynamic area and a lot of innovation is happening. Next to this overview, it is particularly valuable to exchange experience and insights from users of different tools. Their practical experience reports – both about the process of application and the concrete benefits after implementation – are priceless in the decision and extremely helpful in recognizing the potential of legal tech tools.
However, to correctly classify the digitization tools offered and to leverage their potential for your own company, it is most important to understand current internal work processes and to have clarity on which specific problem should be solved.
How do you identify problems within western union and analyze your work in the legal department/team?
First, the legal department’s most pressing need must be identified and the problem understood. In doing so, it has proven effective to define the project scope in a written „scope“ document and to clarify the what and why and when; and the how and where and who. If you know the answers to these questions, you are well on your way to successfully defining the project scope and user needs. A scope document captures the team’s and other stakeholders‘ expectations of what needs to be accomplished, the steps required to meet those expectations, and at what cost and resources – both internal and external. The scope document should be shared transparently with the team and other end users to ensure that their requirements have been interpreted correctly.
Creating a scope document helps eliminate misunderstandings, meet expectations, and increase user acceptance when a solution is ultimately selected. It forms the basis for the request for proposal (RFP) and saves time in contacting software vendors because the requirements are clear. If you don’t narrow down your project first, you risk multiple iterations of the RFP once vendors are already involved. This can waste time and create confusion both internally and externally about what the basic requirements are.
What criteria have you defined to choose a legal tech tool? Where there certain IT requirements?
It was important for us move from onsite servers to the cloud. Furthermore, we wanted to choose a product that was already being used successfully by comparable companies in the industry, as well as by law firms. The tool should increase employee productivity and reduce the burden on their inboxes by automatically filing and archiving relevant correspondence correctly in the appropriate folders. It should be intuitive and easy to use, provide contextual help, and meet high standards of security and flexibility. Access and sharing of sensitive documents can be restricted as needed.
It is also essential that the software seamlessly integrates with a variety of applications (Microsoft Office, Microsoft 365, MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc.) already in use within the company. Thus, technically, the system can be accessed from all devices, with all browsers, iOS applications, online and offline, and documents can be edited at any time.
How are/were the tasks for the project distributed?
The first communication task of the change management team was the announcement of the project start by the project sponsor. At the project launch, the legal department was informed about the project, its goals, expected benefits, key milestones, and project team members. Multiple avenues of communication were used – in addition to newsletters, department meetings, workshops, and emails, the company intranet was also used as a means of communication for updates and general project news.
Why did you ultimately choose this tool and not the other one?
As already mentioned, it was important to choose a product that was already being used successfully by similar companies in the industry, as well as by law firms. It had to be intuitive and easy to use, yet meet high standards of security and flexibility.
So now, how do you prepare for the next steps of your project?
The project is constantly reviewed by the various teams. It turned out to be more helpful for some departments than for others. The tool is particularly valuable for those working on larger cases with a large number of cause-related documents.
What were your biggest implementation challenges? What learnings did you take with you? What would you do differently if you could start again?
Our biggest Challenge? User adoption.
The most essential learning? The importance of change management.
The rollout of the tool to the Legal team was very structured but that structure was duplicated for each practice area. In hindsight, it may have been beneficial to be more flexible in terms of how we rolled it out to each practice area, given the differing workings and needs in each.
Western Union Steckbrief
- Legal Tech Projekt: Document Management System
- Projekt Start: About 2 years ago. In connection with this initiative, the corporate governance team introduced a standardized, global process for the granting of power of attorney across all subsidiary companies + the digital signature.
- Projektverantwortung: Project is driven by the Legal Operations organization with guidance and support from the Chief Legal Officer. The Legal Ops. team collaborates with information security, privacy and data protection departments.
- Taskmanagement: People managers as local „bosses“ have to ensure 1. that their direct reports adopt and use the new tool consistently across the legal department, 2. that the respective previous practice – to manage documents e.g., only on the local server – is phased out to support the improved approach.