Addressing the Global Legal Post's GC Futures Summit in London on Monday, Ms Stott and Mr Van Tonder warned that hard-copy contracts stacked haphazardly under the office stairs may be a sign of more than administrative failings. Rather, leaving contracts to stagnate post-award can squander the commercial value that lies hidden within the data they contain. The Exigent-sponsored session, titled 'Contract Folder: Hidden Opportunity or Ticking Bomb', highlighted ways in which applying sophisticated data analysis technologies to digitised contracts can help orientate the work of legal departments towards the broader commercial objectives of companies. This in turn can help assert the business value of in-house legal teams to management.
Complex contract data
Digitalising contract management can offer many simple logistical benefits, such as automated reminders for deadlines and expiry dates. The more exciting prospect, however, is the potential commercial value that lies in using technology to conduct high-volume analyses of complex contract data. Identifying common points of push-back and compromise in pre-award negotiations, for example, may help legal teams to anticipate post-award risks and develop 'play books' for possible future hiccups in contract delivery. Similarly, using software platforms to monitor contract delivery can help bridge the often troublesome communications gap between the legal team responsible for writing a contract and the operations team charged with delivering it.
A slow burn
Ms Stott acknowledged that, for some legal departments, embracing data analysis technologies in contract management may seem daunting and 'ahead of its time', but maintained that once lawyers were able to see the commercial value, they would seek the support needed to begin the process. 'The introduction of this sort of technology, it's just a slow burn,' Ms Stott commented. 'It's a journey for people to go on. There is much more emphasis today on what the legal function [in companies] are doing and how they can be a value-creating entity, much more so than there was even five years ago. [Data analysis technologies] are part of that journey.'