Lessons from a Legal Operations Visionary
Mild-mannered yet undaunted, Joseph Le is the quintessential “perfect storm” of legal operations utopia – the intersection of technology, legal and business acumen. I knew we would get along from the first time I talked to him – we both share an upbringing with the Queen’s English as our lingua franca.
After that common bond was established, I quickly discovered that we also share another common language – the language of legal business process optimization.
Joseph, with the guidance of tenured pharmaceutical industry senior legal executive, Avanir General Counsel, Garlan Adams, set out to achieve 100% Apttus user adoption…at launch.
Ambitious for sure but the business impact of achieving this level of adoption was clear.
Avanir had already identified key objectives and strategies (to achieve the objectives) that would be achieved with proper Apttus CLM adoption.
Joseph knew that in the fast-past pharmaceutical world as well as in the empowered Avanir corporate ethos, it was important to show results fast.
Avanir Business Objectives/Measures of Success
- Faster time to Revenue:
- Decrease Contract Risk:
- Increase Contracting Efficiency:
- Empower More Colleagues:
- Increase Trust in Contract Process:
- Enable Proactive Obligation Management:
- Reduce Contracting Cycle Time
- Reduce Manual Errors
- Eliminate Duplicate Efforts
- Enable Remote Approval/Signature
- Enable Transparency of Contract Status
- Broad Based Repository Access
Speed to Results – Pathway to 100% Adoption
In order to get to results quickly, Joseph knew that rapid iteration and agile adjustments were the strategies to employ. He put in place new policies and procedures. He configured the Apttus CLM system at a 1.0 level knowing that he would need to rapidly iterate to a 2.0 level quickly. He also took the same approach with building a contract repository. His initial focus was to quickly populate the repository with legacy agreements so that they could be searched and retrieved. This was accompanied by a deliberate plan to increase repository integrity immediately following launch.
This is when I first met Joseph. Joseph reached out to Sumati based on our reputation as being the market leader in creating high integrity contract repositories in Apttus CLM. He was very open with us about his approach and indicated that he needed process rigor in order to take the Avanir contract repository 1.0 to a level of higher integrity. This was right up our alley and Sumati Vice President of Legal & Compliance, Neetika Narula, took the lead.
CLM Managed Services – Attorney
Neetika put in place an Avanir dedicated team of attorneys expert in contract law and experienced with Apttus CLM, combined with a team of Apttus CLM certified technologists. The first order of business was to document the “as-is” state of the contract repository at Avanir and define a “to-be” state. In addition, the Sumati team designed a process under the auspices of a Center for Contract Integrity, delivered in a managed services model, that enabled transparency, auditability and continuous improvement.
The As-Is State
The As-Is state of the Avanir repository was, as one would expect for a repository that was put together in agile form, ready for launch with a roadmap to 100% integrity. The characteristics included conditions such as multiple duplicate accounts for the same counter-party, agreement records that were not linked with the correct account, agreement records of a counter-party linked with one of more of the multiple duplicate accounts. All are account and contract record phenomenon familiar to Sumati and to companies who have created agreements outside of a CLM system for decades. That pretty much means…all companies.
Another dimension was the placement and linking of agreement records within the CLM ecosystem. Characteristics such as amendment records located under “Other” record type (page layout) instead of the actual record type to which they should belong, existing amendment records not linked with their respective parent records and other documents of the family. Further, agreement records were uploaded in incorrect record types (page layouts) and metadata was not fully extracted. There were also a series of residual record types that did not fit into Avanir’s main record type categories such as Service Agreements, Work Orders, Clinical Trial Agreements, and Confidentiality Agreements.
Here is the boldness – Joseph knew all this going into launch, had a plan to launch to demonstrate speed, and then swiftly engage Sumati to deliberately put in place a Center for Contract Integrity to increase repository integrity. This was our mission at Sumati.
Getting to Integrity 2.0
In the spirit of iteration, the Sumati CLM Managed Services team combined expert attorneys with certified technologists to attack the challenge incrementally. The team executed processes that were driven by precision and auditability to do things such as clean and consolidate counterparty accounts, link agreement records with correct accounts extract metadata for existing agreement records, correct inconsistencies in record types and document all the decision points in an auditable tracker.
Further, the attorneys leveraged their experience with similar agreements at other organizations and suggested new fields such as new term types to further increase repository integrity. Multi-party agreements created the need for additional fields that were also added to the Apttus CLM repository.
It IS all about the details
Avanir was able to achieve 100% user adoption because they sweat the details. Joseph Le is responsible for the contract management business process, which of course integrates with core legal operations functions. Having the vision to blend change management principles of rapid launch and rapid iteration, combined with the knowledge that repository integrity is tantamount to Contract Management success and engage the right partner in Sumati, has allowed Avanir to achieve outsized results in it’s CLM program.