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Modernising and future-proofing Anglo American’s matter management processes

SYKE is a global legal technology and operations consultancy that helps in-house legal teams choose, buy and implement legal technology. We work alongside our technology partners, such as Thomson Reuters, to offer our shared client’s implementation, integration and migration services.

Anglo American is a global organisation operating across many time zones, business units and jurisdictions. The Global Group Legal team was keen to move beyond simply managing risk and start delivering greater value to the business by becoming a genuinely strategic partner. They wanted a single view of matters and trends across all the jurisdictions that they operate in so that the legal team could proactively manage and address issues.

Providing actionable insights to the business

The aim was to ensure that the legal team delivers the right work, in the right way and at the right time. Anglo American were looking for fit for purpose technology to allow the legal team to deliver services to the business in a consistent, effective and efficient way. They were also looking to take advantage of the data captured through the technology to drive actionable insights for colleagues within Group Legal and the wider business.

This value mindset is important because Legal wanted to avoid being perceived as a business inhibitor or a hurdle for the business to overcome. Instead, it wanted to look for situations where it could deliver a competitive advantage or unlock unique opportunities. I think technology can play a big part in that.

Having access to comprehensive data means that the legal team can analyse its portfolio of work to identify opportunities to adjust its service model. For example, by creating a new scope of services, which might be suitable for controlled business self-service, automation or outsourcing.

By looking to capture usage around knowledge content and requests, the legal team can identify where there might be knowledge gaps in the business and target training, awareness and skills development at those areas. The team is always looking to reduce variability, with a view to improving efficiency and effectiveness across a process in a reliable and sustainable way. For example, by highlighting inconsistencies across its legal instruments with the same counterparties, or variation in jurisdictions or business units.

Choosing the right technology provider

Anglo American were looking for a single, global provider for a suite of user cases who would invest to improve and evolve the system over time. Specifically, they were looking at implementing technology that could:

  • Track and manage legal spend, enabling the team to manage workloads more efficiently.
  • Identify inefficient processes and provide visibility of the status of each matter and the actions related to it.
  • Track volumes of matters dealt with and use that data to manage the budget more effectively.
  • Provide status dashboards to help manage risk and reduce inefficiencies.
  • Integrate with other solutions, such as business self-service and managing knowledge content and key documents.

Identifying potential pre-sales pain points

Before we started, we highlighted three potential pain points:

  • Geography. The Global Group Legal team operates across multiple regions and business areas, each with their own local differences in process.
  • Size. The legal team has 100 people across multiple practice areas.
  • Complexity. The aim was to develop a system that provided legal support to the business, matter management and document management, together with an integration to spend management.

It was important to engage with all the regions ahead of the initial build to ensure that the solution designed was scalable and would meet all the requirements. Taking the team with you when you are implementing any new technology is crucial, so make sure you spend time with all the key stakeholders to get an understanding of their concerns.

Importance of the design and UAT phases

Getting the core design right in advance of the build is vital. We used design workshops with stakeholders from across the business to understand their requirements and to help develop a design proposal. The aim was to create a minimal viable product that could be built and tested.

Having the right people involved is also important for user acceptance testing (UAT). Make sure that you identify different types of users as feedback from administrators and paralegals is often among the most useful. Feedback can be used to improve and tweak the system to make it work more effectively for the team.

How to avoid common pitfalls in technology implementations

Preparation is vital. Clients need to really understand their key use cases and be able to articulate the problems that they are trying to solve. For example, if this relates to matter management, what:

  • Do you want to do with your matter data?
  • Insights can your matter data drive?
  • Processes can be automated?

Being pragmatic is important too, so “don’t let great get in the way of good.” If your current ways of working are rather basic, build up slowly and look at the data and key benefits before moving forward.

Lessons learned from the rollout so far

Phase one of the rollout was ambitious and helped to create a robust baseline that can be enhanced and incrementally improved on as the system is rolled out in the remaining phases.

The rollout has been well-received internally and other parts of the business beyond Legal are showing interest in using the system. For example, the tax department are utilising document automation.

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