For many years the legal department has been seen more as an area of expenditure center than a revenue generator. But as technology that strengthens the synergies between legal and business departments continues to develop, that notion has begun to fade. The most frequent source of that synergy comes from programs and process optimizing software that targets low complexity high volume tasks like matter management and billing, and recently Huron Legal unveiled a solution designed to tackle another common area of focus for the legal team; contract management.
Jeff Catanzaro managing director, of Huron Legal, has exceptional experience in the legal process outsourcing, but for this most recent project, which tasked him with leveraging technology to develop a more efficient the contract process, he sought to create a tool that could be used internally by an organization. The result was Huron Legal’s kCREATE application which was released in June.
According to Catanzaro, contract management has historically been a cumbersome and expensive process with in a legal or compliane departments holistic obligations. But while necessary, lack of a proper management solution often meant the breakdown of alignment between legal and sales.
“The problem is especially on the sell side, the delay in getting the contracts to the counter party was affecting commerce. In the contract life cycle management space there isn’t really anyting that helps facilitate that. All of them have a contract assembly tool, that allows you to put something together, but kCREATE is designed to handle that process differently and more efficiently,” Catanzaro says.
kCREATE operates differently in a few ways. Its interface walks the user through a series of questions in a way similar to Windows based “wizards,” completed answers insert the right verbiage and context into a document to quickly assemble an appropriate contract. “We’ve built NDA’s (non disclosure agreements) in less than a few hours since there’s not a ton of information. kCREATE can identify the most frequently negotiated clause or sections, so it knows what to insert when you’re creating documents you’ve needed before,” Catanzaro says.
In addition to helping make contract creation quicker and easier, kCREATE also offers a mobile version allowing employees frequently on the road the ability to draft a contract anywhere, the application is also sold on a use basis, with charges rendered based on the amount of contract created vs. a monthly subscription. A nice touch in an industry were seasonal lulls are to be expected.
With the volume of contracts that Fortune 500 companies need to facilitate on a monthly basis averaging between 30 and 50, any software that can strengthen the process and land deals faster is likely to be welcomed with open arms. And research conducted by Huron Legal seems to confirm that many legal departments’ views on contract management support the need for more streamlined contract creation and processing.
Of 100 legal technology professionals Huron Legal surveyed 57 percent of respondents expressed concern about their company’s existing contract management procedures. This concern is well merited, given that nearly 65% of respondents indicate having over 1,000 contracts in effect, with over half of that group reporting 1,000-25,000 active contracts and the remainder having even more.
“This survey confirmed statistically what we have heard anecdotally for years,” Catanzaro, says “In many organizations, the contract management process is still a manual, slow, inefficient, and ineffective process. Given the sheer number of contracts under management by organizations today, it is critical to have a clear picture of how contracts are created, how many there are in total and where they are ultimately stored.”
“In order to reduce costs, maximize revenue and ensure effective delivery of contractual obligations, companies must effectively manage and have clear visibility and control over all contractual obligations and commitments,” said Bob Rowe, executive vice president, Huron Legal. “We developed the kCREATE application to help our clients more effectively and efficiently manage their contracting process. Our combination of people, process and performance-driven technology sets Huron Legal apart in the compliance, information governance and contract management arena.”
While the stigma associating the legal department and expenditure is not likely to evaporate overnight, business-centric legal applications like kCREATE are doing plenty to reduce it. Legal software like this will hopefully transform legal from an business impediment to a business ally with every generated contract.