Because ultimately, people are going to judge you by your results, this week at Concord is all about what newly appointed GCs can do in the first ninety days to make the best impression and produce good results, fast. (Check out this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday video tip).
I’ve been reading the Harvard Business Review Manager’s Handbook to brush up on what I’d call life skills—The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out. I’ve also come across multiple articles in Corporate Counsel about newly appointed GCs (to the ones I’ve seen lately: Mark Allen (FedEx), Suzette M. Long (Caterpillar, Inc.), Curtis Oltmans (Array BioPharma), and Brandy Treadway (JC Penney), Michael O’Sullivan (Snap) congratulations!). I started thinking, as a new GC, how do you prove to your new boss and employees you’ve got what it takes?
HBR Manager’s Handbook says the first step is to pick a few simple, well-defined problems that matter to your team or your boss and solve them. Here are three problems, along with solutions and steps on how to achieve each, identified from conversations with GCs that will make you look like a rock star.
Your view of your company’s contracts and processes looks like Swiss-Cheese
Problem: It’s likely that whoever was in the position prior to you took some key knowledge with them, leaving you with knowledge gaps for important questions—how many contracts are there, what stages are they in, what’s coming up for renewal, specific terms or insider information for specific vendors or agreements.
Solution: Perform an audit. It will give you much needed answers to the aforementioned questions, as well as a better understanding of your contract portfolio overall, helping you leverage contract data to identify strategic growth opportunities, likely risks and compliance issues, and areas where you may be able to reduce costs or achieve better terms. An audit enables you to quickly come up with a plan to make a strong impact on your contracting processes and your company’s bottom line.
How to achieve: Using a contract lifecycle management platform (CLM) to perform an audit can make a breeze of an otherwise tedious and painful task, since you are able to search contracts by vendor name, contract metadata, lifecycle stage, and so on. Using a CLM platform you may not even need to perform a complete audit. By using advanced reporting and analytics you can quickly get the information you need with a few clicks of a button. And all this information sets you up for the next point.
Risk and compliance
Problem: Huge rocks for any organization, as an individual contributor you may have helped mitigate and manage these areas. But as the new GC these heavy-hitters now fall squarely in your lap. Ongoing and complicated, you’ll need ways to stay ahead of the game, identifying, mitigating, managing, and eliminating risk, both now and in the future.
Solution: Automated compliance. No, I haven’t fallen off the deep end. It’s achievable with a CLM platform.
How to achieve: Deadline alerts stop critical lifecycle stages from falling through the cracks. In a set-it-and-never-forget-it fashion these alerts can be set at a template level and on every contract, and can be customized so you receive alerts when you need them—thirty days out, sixty days out, ninety days out—right to your inbox. It doesn’t matter if “Steve” who handles your contracts leaves; knowledge is institutionalized, meaning anyone with the appropriate permissions will be able to receive alerts and stay on top of renewals, avoid hefty fines, and capture more savings/revenue.
By using templates Legal is able to push the most up-to-date information out to the appropriate people in seconds, enabling teams instead of blocking them. With the right information, teams can move fast without creating risk or compliance issues, ultimately allowing your company to grow and scale faster.
Lastly, approval workflows. A CLM platform ensures that throughout the contract process the correct people will be notified at the correct points, automatically. These workflows can be set at the template level, so it won’t matter who generates a contract. Legal will be included when necessary (and with the template will have already set the correct information), enabling confident compliance organization-wide. And this leads me to the last point.
Legal is seen as the outsider
Problem: While it can be lonely at the top, this point is more about the big picture—getting Legal involved in business conversations early and often.
Solution: Changing the perception of Legal from blocker to enabler. In other words, making Legal the cool kid in the office.
How to achieve: The solution for risk and compliance is a two-birds, one-stone deal. Templates paired with approval workflows mean teams can move fast without creating risk or compliance issues, ultimately allowing your company to grow and scale faster.
Advanced CLM platforms give you an added, and hefty competitive advantage: online negotiation. Currently getting a contract signed probably takes weeks, maybe even months, because each party has to download, make edits in Word, get internal approvals, and then email each version. Aside from the long process this creates and stalled revenue, you end up with version control issues and damaged relationships from frustrated parties. Online in-document negotiation, also known as redlining, allows all parties to work on the same document at the same time, accelerating the time-to-signature and improving business relationships through collaboration.
Implementing the tools—templates, approval workflows, online negotiation, deadline alerts—can be done in a matter of weeks, and help you achieve your larger, ninety day goals faster, and make success repeatable. You’ll quickly make a positive impact on your team’s workload, and will begin to change the way other teams perceive Legal from a roadblock to overcome to a business enabler.
The bottom line: Cloud CLM platforms deliver a rapid, real ROI capable of transforming Legal and all the departments it supports, including Sales, Finance, HR, Procurement, Professional Services, and more. All things as a new GC will important to you.
Modern Legal teams, and every other business function, are adopting technology at an exponential rate, and for good reason. Sales has CRMs, Procurement has digitized purchasing and eProcurement systems, Finance has a plethora of software options, and the list goes on. Legal has CLM platforms—a user-friendly, customizable solution for contract management that will make accelerated growth and flawless compliance a reality.
If you’re new to the CLM platforms or the Cloud when it comes to your contracts, check out The Essential Guide for Moving Your Contracts to the Cloud. And look out for The Essential Guide to Using Contracts to Manage Risk and Maintain Compliance for In-House Counsel coming out next week – as a new GC you’ll it find incredibly helpful and insightful.