“Knowledge management has been an exceptionally important function for Sorainen’s strategy from day one – it is one of our strategic pillars. We pay a lot of attention to KM as well as IT systems that support most of our activities: client acquisition, customer relationship management, business development and billing,” starts Kaupo Lepasepp.
Kaupo has been with Sorainen since 2006 and for the last five years he’s been in charge of Sorainen’s IT and knowledge management (KM) from a partner side. His role is more supervisory for IT and KM teams: supporting them in setting strategic plans and implementing these plans.
That’s why Kaupo was present when Sorainen lawyers adopted Avokaado’s contract automation platform and now he is sharing his experience of building one centralised system with 120 contracts in 1 year.
1. Define the pain points and needs.
Sorainen’s story with contract automation started with defining the exact needs and areas to improve. The team had clearly identified where the biggest pressure on their processes was and what they needed to improve: quality of work, the value proposition to clients and faster delivery.
Scroll down to download a white-paper and see why Sorainen decided to improve these specific areas of work.
2. Make decision faster.
Being a partner at Sorainen for more than 10 years Kaupo clearly sees that “the legal industry is getting really obsessed with tools”. There is a bunch of conferences and seminars about tools. And the most common questions lawyers are asking are “which tool are you using”. There are significantly fewer questions about how to use these tools. The entire innovation process is constantly window-shopping for tools without even resorting to ultimately buying it.
“My advice, – shares Kaupo, – is not to waste too much time on searching for perfect due diligence software or automation tools because frankly speaking there is no perfect one. There are tools for different jobs and you just have to understand what job has to be done, what is that what you want to do with a tool. Yes, you need to compare the tools and look into them but my advice is to buy something quickly that helps you to move forward and feels right and then work hard with implementation and switch off from other providers. Then you’re doing something that resembles innovation because buying software is not innovation. Innovation is when you have something and you actually implement it in your firm to deliver value to your clients”.
Kaupo summarizes: “Buy fast, buy something reasonable not perfect and start implementing. Don’t run around the products looking for the magic bullet – it doesn’t exist. The magic bullet is the work that you put into these processes. It the same goes that fool with a tool is still a fool. If you don’t know what to do with this fancy tool then it’s really useless to you. Focus on understanding your own needs and your clients’ needs.”
3. Support innovation at each level of organisation.
As Kaupo Lepasepp fairly pointed out “law firms are very traditional and any change in a law firm is always difficult”. Innovation is difficult. “Innovation is something that everybody agrees needs to be done but then they leave the conference and come back to the regular life – and to the old habits. Innovation demands full attention and even a bit more. So for us as well automation was difficult, – Kaupo follows us, – implementation of document automation had demanded a lot of effort from our side. You need to understand if you want to change or it will be just a banner that you’ll be using on your website or something that you say in the corporate speech.
For Sorainen strategy innovation is important even though it’s not easy. What we clearly understood is that for any change to happen there should be a huge amount of enthusiasm in the firm and commitment on the highest level and also support and attention from the top level in the firm. And then things start unwinding. So changes and innovation probably are not for everyone.”
4. Set up a plan with defined steps.
For Sorainen, it worked because they focused on building a small success story with their core enthusiastic team, and paying close attention and attaining full support from their top management. Kaupo comments: “Our first success stories were with automating of employment agreements and lease agreements. And an end-user was not a lawyer but sales or HR teams. Instead of waiting internally for a legal department to sign up an agreement HR or sales teams could respond to a few questions in the template that lawyers automated for them and get an agreement ready in a few minutes.
And once fruits are there and some of your users are already happy you can expand technology further in a firm. Start with the tools that provide the quickest return is the way to keep people motivated by experimenting with new tools. Taking something more complicated then the risks are higher and there’s a high likelihood of failing and not being eager to test out new tools.”
For the size and scale of a law firm like Sorainen, there is no go without a regular project plan as Kaupo believes. “What we will do, what resources we have, how much time we have and how we measure success in our situation” – these are the questions to be put in the project plan. The key is also to find a clear project lead and not to assign everyone to be responsible because then nobody is responsible”.
Download the details of the Sorainen – Avokaado project in the white-paper below.
During the automation journey, Sorainen team has also learned how important it is to measure KPIs and be ready to iterate fast when something is not working. With the second iteration, the team set up a goal separately for each country and every office picked their contracts they thought could fit to the plan. And the last key was the interaction with a service provider.
Kaupo warmly speaks up about Sorainen & Avokaado relation: “For us cooperation with Avokaado is and has been very valuable. We’ve learned about automation and what we’re capable and not capable of, what our clients want and don’t want, what documents make sense to automate. What makes Avokaado outshine the others in the market is the support that the team has given to Sorainen adventure. Because sometimes if you buy the tool you have this lovely box where you can download something, access somewhere but there is no support. Then the entry barriers are very high and things don’t get implemented. So far we’re really happy with Avokaado and we see Avokaado not just as a platform but rather as our business consultant in the field of KM and more precisely in automation.”