When it comes to technology, and building a data ecosystem, legal departments have a lot to gain. Data integration – the combination of data from multiple sources in one unified view – can provide legal departments a lot of value in terms of controlling specific data, sharing data and reporting on insights and risks.

However, when approaching data integration, many legal departments face challenges. In some orgnanisations this might be that IT department already provides a centralised document management system (DMS). Or maybe finance uses SAP and needs the latest information on the group structure, contract financials, or legal entities. In such cases, it is vital that your legal management system is “open” to integrate with the different solutions that exist across the business. In practical terms, this means using an application program interface (API) to specify how software components should interact.

Without getting too technical, here are 5 ways you can connect solutions to benefit from data integration:

Providing & controlling access

If you have complex needs for granting access to various legal information among company employees, you might consider an integration with a local active directory such as Azure, a product included in the Microsoft Office 365 suite. Among other benefits, local active directories give your IT the ability to determine who has access to your legal department software, adding not just an extra layer of security or control, but also granting ease of use for employees (e.g. users don’t have to remember any additional usernames and passwords as the log in process only occurs once). Techies among you will know this isn’t really an API integration, but it still is a very valid and relevant use-case where data is shared by applications.

Secure storage

If your company uses a legal management platform, like Legisway, you have a perfectly good solution to store your documents securely. Yet, you might already have your data stored in Sharepoint or your IT department has made it company policy to do so. If you still want to leverage an advanced metadata management solutions built specifically for CLD’s, you can consider integrating Sharepoint with Legisway. This integration could allow you to store documents in a place where IT is happy but still leverage all the power that a dedicated CLD software can give you.

Share data

A lot of data within the legal department is essential for the day to day operations of the wider business. Imagine a situation where you have to update or add a new group company in your legal management solution. This update can be pushed automatically into finance systems such as SAP or towards Salesforce to make sure that sales people use the right legal names for their contracts. What  if the same sales contracts were automatically pushed to your legal management solution once they are finalised so you can properly manage their life cycle? The good news is that you can easily accomplished this with an API integration. Save precious time normally spent on duplicate administration, while increasing data accuracy across the business.

Increase functionality

Some solutions out there are filled to the brim with useful and intelligent tools for your legal department, but if you are on a tighter budget (or simply need less) you may simply want to use a great value core system to keep your legal information, and look elsewhere for additional value.

Let’s say you want to add e-signature or document drafting to your solution. With API connections, you can use the data stored in your legal management platform and integrate it with for example DocuSign or Legal SmartDocuments (Document automation) to increase the functionality and value generated from that data.

Prove value

Most solutions for legal management have good reporting functionalities. Yet, sometimes you might just want to have something that looks nicer or more convincing for your next board meeting or presentation. Normally you would run your reports, export the data to Excel, and get to work on making all sorts of graphs and insights. From start to finish, you have likely spent an hour or two. But here you can also think about integrating with specific analytics or reporting tools such as Microsoft Power BI to create great looking management dashboards and reporting, all at the click of a button, and highly customised to your needs.

In conclusion, these are just a few examples out of many of what you can do with APIs and a legal management solution such as Legisway. The idea is to look for opportunities to increase accuracy of data, improve efficiency of data usage and reduce the risk that comes with having inaccurate or incomplete data. Ultimately increasing the value you create as a legal department.