As the role of in-house lawyers continues to evolve, legal departments are becoming more reliant on collaboration with other departments across the business, which translates into an ever-increasing volume of legal information to manage. From contracts, policies, legal documents and data - how many systems do you have to store and share documents? How much time do you waste searching for key information, like contract terms or deadlines? How many times do you receive the same request from a colleague for the latest version of a document?
To reduce the time spent searching for documents, increase efficiency and collaboration, legal departments are increasingly turning to the cloud.
According to OpenText Discovery’s “Corporate Legal Operations Survey 2017“, openness to cloud technologies is increasing - over 52 percent of corporate legal departments use a cloud-based matter management tool, while 36 percent use a cloud-based contract management tool. Cloud solutions empower legal teams to stay in control of legal matters, establish governance, and empower colleagues to be more legally savvy. While legal teams are adopting tools that provide greater control and improved collaboration, the report also notes they are also keen to find “holistic technology platforms that can adapt to a variety of compliance and information management challenges.”
While on-premise technology can meet their basic needs, cloud technologies offer three distinct advantages, which we’ll get into more detail below: constant availability, simple scaling and increased efficiency.
1. Constant availability
Centralized data storage in the cloud ensures global access at any time via any device with Internet access. Each user is independently able to retrieve, store and process information. Information is available in real time, whenever you need it. Complicated network connections via VPN or other security mechanisms are no longer necessary when data transmission is encrypted – which it is with ISO 27001 certified cloud solutions.
Immediately applicable and no maintenance
Since cloud applications usually run as self-sufficient SaaS solutions (software as a service) on a server of the hosting provider, a local installation becomes superfluous. The application is therefore immediately ready for use. The service provider takes care of the technical maintenance, security architecture and updates. As part of its Service Level Agreement (SLA), they are also responsible for the permanent availability of the service, data backup and appropriate security mechanisms.
Meet the needs of your employees for mobility
Last but not least, mobility – or rather the ability to use the solution via laptops, iPad or smartphone. This offers entirely new possibilities to make better use of your time (for example, during business trips) or to improve the work-life balance (for example with the flexibility to work from home). Since no data is stored or processed locally (on your work computer for example), you benefit from being able to access the latest version of your documents. Everything stored to the cloud is synchronized in real time so you can access it via a web or mobile app. And, thanks to the encrypted data transmission with secure password protection, as long as you have internet access you can log-in from any device – a benefit that can come in handy in an emergency!
2. Simple scaling
In the times of increasing globalization and digitization business models are becoming more and more dynamic, which requires agile product development and suitable technologies. Here, cloud solutions have greater technological advantages than on-premise technologies thanks to more rapid adaptation, the ability to change framework conditions and achieve maximum flexibility. Technical resources can be booked or canceled as required.
Collaborate with colleagues anywhere they are
In addition, cloud solutions help to avoid cross-site deployment, as they can be used anywhere outside the local IT infrastructure. Especially in larger, globally active organizations, this can be a decisive advantage, especially if an information exchange is required across national boundaries. Many cloud applications are also multi-lingual.
Think big, start simple
Modular concepts facilitate a rapid rollout and a dynamic functional expansion without long-term and complex IT projects. You can also start with a small number of functions and users and still work in a future-proof way. Through modern cloud solutions, you not only use the current web standards, but the entire technical architecture grows with your needs.
Lastly, cloud solutions support cross-departmental collaboration by using a central information system with different interaction options for real-time collaboration. This eliminates the need for meetings or telephone calls, by centrally storing the data and the communication to the respective process.
Department heads can act fully autonomously within the scope of their powers
Cloud-based application allow you to add additional users and manage their permissions. For legal teams, this means empowering other departments to tackle their own legal matters, whether it’s drafting contracts or gather insights via real-time analysis and reporting tools. With more effective collaboration, legal departments can significantly reduce the amount of administrative tasks they do, and concentrate on more strategic work.
From the analogue to the digital process
With a cloud solution, legal departments can provide department heads templates for standard contracts or agreements, saving everyone time. Cloud solutions can also allow you to assign tasks or automate workflows, simplifying the most complex work processes. Escalation processes can be set up with the possibility to have automated reminders to open tasks or deadlines by e-mail. The ability to track the status of all your legal matters in a single dashboard gives you more control and oversight than if you were to use manual tools like spreadsheets.
Store everything in a central database, extract value on cross-referenced data
With a central database for all your legal data – like contracts, corporate governance, policies, etc – , both past and present, you can generate insights which can help you assume a more strategic role. Being able to identify compliance risks or contract opportunities earlier can have an impact on your bottom line.
Safe and economical
Since you don’t have to maintain local servers and operating systems, you also save your IT department time and money. For this reason, cloud technologies are the undisputed choice for for small and medium-sized enterprises that rely on lean structures and have limited IT resources. Building a similarly powerful and secure technology landscape requires considerable human resources and produces high costs. The cloud provider, on the other hand, can pass on the possible scaling effects and thus considerable cost advantages as a price advantage to its customers.
The goal for legal teams is to find the right solution to meet their needs. By offering availability, scalability and efficiency-gains, cloud solutions are quickly replacing on-premise solutions to give legal departments greater control, improved analytics, and cost savings. With effacts, you can achieve all these benefits and more. Learn more here.