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ABA Journal: Best Practices for integrating new tools in a law department's portfolio

Ari Kaplan spoke recently with Oliver Round, managing attorney, product owner for contract management, and co-head, legal data management, advisory, at BNY Mellon.

Ari Kaplan Tell us your story and the roles you have played at BNY Mellon.

Oliver Round: I am an attorney focused on contract management and extraction of data from our corporate agreements. Since the bank has many business units that manage contracts in different ways, I was recently appointed product owner for contract management. My goal is to bring consistency in the organization's approach. I also ensure that all lines of business are covered by the tools and processes we create and implement.

Ari Kaplan: How does the legal team leverage new tools and platforms?

Oliver Round: Our legal team is very innovative and uses an array of tools to improve the way we work. For example, we leverage technology to accelerate the contracting process by streamlining drafting and tracking agreements from editing to approval. Our clients receive faster service and a better experience. We also use artificial intelligence to enhance onboarding and communicate more effectively through a single platform.

Ari Kaplan: Which criteria do you use to evaluate new technology?

Oliver Round, managing counsel, product owner for contract lifecycle management and co-head of legal data management and advisory at BNY Mellon.

Round: Our main criteria for any new tool is its ability to be adopted and if it meets the needs of people. We also consider the team behind the technology, as we need to collaborate with them. Often, if the company and the people you are working with are not aligned with your vision, it will not be an effective combination. We also look at ways to integrate any new tool into our broader tech stack. BNY Mellon is data-driven, so every piece of new technology must fit in our ecosystem and solve problems.

Ari Kaplan How do you secure executive support for new applications

Oliver Round We have different approaches to getting executive buy-in because different business lines have different needs. It was obvious that everyone wanted to improve their contracting process. Employees and executives both want to be able to conduct business more efficiently, so implementing a CLM system was an easy win.

Ari Kaplan - What are the best practices to integrate new tools in an enterprise's toolbox?

Oliver Ring: While each technology is different, it's generally better to take things slow. It is better to let the tool evolve naturally. You can't force people to change. As you select the vendor and technology, make sure that all stakeholders are involved. Participate in that process. It is important that you recognize that when you introduce a new system, it can disrupt the workday and require more planning. Start small if it's a minor shift and allow people to try it out and provide feedback. Allow them to experience the possibilities, and win small victories. This approach encourages adoption to happen naturally. In addition, plan internal road shows and highlight internal successes.

Ari Kaplan: How do you encourage legal professionals and business professionals to use the tools you are offering?

Oliver round: Users are encouraged to use any new technology directly in their work, to show users how quickly it can reduce time-consuming manual tasks. People love to see small adjustments make a difference in their workflows. This is why we get so excited! Once you actually have data around time-consuming activities and can see how easily they are reduced or eliminated, they realize how powerful technology can be, and it results in a complete reallocation of resources.

Ari Kaplan: How does the increase in work-from-home activity affect the way that you choose technology?

Oliver Round: Absolutely. The fact that we have moved to a remote environment and flourished shows that remote collaboration and digitization are now table stakes. We want to make sure that an employee can approve a change of contract for a mobile phone, if necessary, without the need to log in to our system. All technology must adapt to a mobile and remote work environment that offers flexible arrangements.

Ari Kaplan In what way can an organization assess if a new technology deployment has been successful?

Oliver Round: Adoption and whether a given approach or technology solves a problem. We also analyze metrics associated with these efforts in order to confirm that they have succeeded.

Ari Kaplan: Where do you see technology having the biggest impact on the law department going forward?

The Legal departments will continue innovating and using technology to improve their efficiency. We are always being asked for more. It is the nature of the business. New tools allow us to adapt to the changing environment and focus on high-value critical thinking.

Hear the whole interview at ReinventingProfessionals.

Ari Kaplan interviews lawyers and professionals from the broader professions to provide perspective and highlight transformative changes.

This column reflects solely the views and opinions of the writer, not the views or opinions of ABA Journal--or American Bar Association.