Today’s legal teams are required to do more with less — manage numerous duties in a very short span. They’re always focused on contributing to the company’s business goals and prove their value to the stakeholders. With responsibilities rising higher than ever, in-house legal teams are looking for ways to manage their workload effectively. Automating the legal workflow can significantly help in this regard.

What do we mean by workflow? Roughly, it is the various processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. Now, think about the benefits that we can gain from applying automation to the entire workflow of the legal department.

Workflow automation is one of the proven ways to free lawyers from low-value monotonous tasks so that they can concentrate on high-value strategic business initiatives. Not only does it save time, but it also improves consistency.

Key legal workflows to be automated

Workflow automation is the need of the hour. Manual processes lead to delays and leave room for inefficiencies. To avoid the pitfalls, legal teams should start automating the following workflows:

1. Requesting contracts

According to the maturity of the intake process, legal teams receive requests either in person or via e-mail. This leaves room for insufficient information, which may require the GC to communicate with the requester again to collect the necessary information — leading to delay and ample waste of time that could’ve been used in drafting the contract.

With workflow automation offered by Zycus’s AI-driven wizard Merlin Guide, legal teams can standardize the contract intake process utilizing RPA (Robot Process Automation) technology — ensuring the collection of all the required information right at the beginning. The requester fills the request form — if the information is satisfactory, it goes forward, lest it gets rejected and goes back to the requester. So, no need to track down the party for missing information.

2. Reviewing & approving contracts

Contract review is an integral part of the contracting process. Before a contract is signed, the legal team needs to thoroughly examine it to ensure that everything stated in the agreement is clear to the parties and the organization is comfortable to continue with the terms and conditions. This step is vital as it the last opportunity to make any changes in the contract.

After a contract is reviewed, it has to go through layers of approvals by multiple people in the organization — several paralegals and then finally the General Counsel or Chief Financial Officer, before it is executed and comes to life.

Both steps are crucial. Conducting them manually is not only time-consuming but also not without the risk of human error. Zycus’s Contract Authoring Software integrates with MS Word for quick and easy contract creation using Templates and Clause Library. Standardized contract language and version control, along with configurable workflows, help streamline the entire Review and Contract Approval process — minimizing exposure to legal risks and captures benefits for organizations.

3. Signing contracts

After the approval of the contract, the parties need to sign the agreement. Collecting all the signatures is another headache for the legal teams. In a manual set-up, they need to find the concerned individuals and get their signatures physically. It is needless to mention that this process kills time, unnecessarily delays the contract creation, and creates a lot of incontinence.

Gone are those days! Electronic signatures have come to the rescue. Now, physical distance is no more a barrier. You can obtain all the required signatures just by sitting at your desk. Sophisticated contract management solutions with eSignature functionality notify each signatory, track the signatures, and inform all the parties upon full execution of the contract.

4. Renewing contracts

The responsibility of the legal teams doesn’t end with contract execution. They’re in charge of keeping track of the deadlines, renewal, and expiry dates of the contracts they’ve drafted. Doing this manually is time-consuming as well as not without error. Suppose you had planned to terminate or re-negotiate a particular contract, but it gets renewed as you missed the deadline. Such unintentional auto-renewals can cause your business significant loss of time and money.

Zycus’s AI engine Merlin Explorer can help you avoid these situations. It automatically tracks all the contracts and notifies the users regarding important deadlines, renewal or expiry dates, and so on — eliminating the risk of unwanted auto-renewals. It analyzes thousands of agreements in a handful of clicks by navigating with speed and precision while drawing key statistics and insights in real-time.

Benefits of legal workflow automation

Now that we know the key workflows that are to be automated, let’s quickly try to sum up their benefits:

  • Save time — Workflow automation allows the legal teams to complete a huge number of tasks in a much lesser time as compared to the manual set-up. This leads to increased productivity.
  • Save cost — With employees being able to complete more tasks in the same working hours, it saves costs for the organization as it is getting more work done by them while paying the same salaries.
  • Improve accuracy — One of the major benefits of workflow automation is that it offers improved accuracy, which is nearly impossible to achieve with manual processes.
  • Eliminate human errors — Automation eliminates the possibility of human errors and the loss of time, effort, and cost associated with it. So, it is again saving time and money for the organization.
  • Improve task management — Workflow automation enables better communication within and across departments. Configurable dashboards display the tasks and calendars remind the teams of important meetings, deadlines, etc. This increases visibility and allows the managers to track the status of the tasks as well as the bottlenecks if any.

So, we can see that, with workflow automation, in-house legal teams can control and manage their work in less time and with more efficiency. Besides that, contract automation can also save costs. Taking over the mundane tasks, automation optimizes legal departments’ spend and increases staff productivity in general.