May 11, 2023

Revolutionizing cross-functional teams

Revolutionize cross-functional work for better collaboration in legal ops and between teams. Here are the advice and tools we love to use at Newton!

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As a business professional, you’re acutely conscious of the importance of ensuring the proper optimization of both your own workload and that of your team, and all other allocated cross-functional teams, roles, and responsibilities. Business moves fast, and we all know the importance of mastering time to provide clients with the best advice within the shortest possible timeframe. Yet to achieve this, you need to make sure your systems are in the best possible shape. You’ll require a cross-functional team that has the full ability to improve cross-functional work with sophisticated technology and automate administrative tasks. If this can be accomplished, you will see how quickly you can reap the benefits of concentrating on strategy and providing your clients with the best possible service. Don’t allow file management, data transfers, and constant emailing requirements to bog your operations down – take charge and optimize them for maximum efficiency. Here, we investigate your available options.

In this article, we will cover the following:

Maximizing Efficiency and Profitability in Non-Client-Facing Operations with Newton

Beyond client-facing work, Newton provides you with the potential to massively enhance the efficiency and profitability of all your operations. If you’re in compliance, finance, corporate, or an investor in real estate, your role in increasing productivity, reducing risks, and monitoring compliance will be critical. That’s not to mention all the tasks you have to get done in terms of managing budgets and the smooth implementation of new technology across your firm and behind the scenes. That’s a lot, and when there are so many tasks to complete, the potential for silo working becomes a real possibility.

It’s an unfortunate fact that a silo mentality often takes over in organizations of all types and sizes. People become bogged down and overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to complete, communication becomes obstructed, colleagues get frustrated, projects are set back, profits are reduced, and clients leave. In fact, as we’ve already discussed at length in our previous article on How to Avoid Silos Work in Legal Ops, silos working in an organization can result in disastrous effects on the company’s internal efficiency.

That’s not to mention the huge damage that working in silos causes to a company’s external image. Once your clients’ experience of working with you is marred by communication breakdowns, conflicting information, and poor service, it can be difficult to repair, not to mention a lengthy process. Your best bet for combatting the detrimental effects of silos working is to promote collaboration among your teams and the free and open sharing of information.

It’s a fact, then, that if you want to ensure operational excellence, you will need to place a keen focus on improved cooperation and communication between teams, departments, and colleagues. That means that where a multiplicity of tasks is concerned, the consolidation and integration of tasks must be the priority – and the best way to get this done is through the use of state-of-the-art legal analytic tools and management facilities from third-party providers, as well as working on seamless communication between your various non-legal departments such as sales and marketing, IT, HR, and finance.

Silos working must be avoided, but it’s certainly difficult when there is compliance monitoring, departmental budget management, outsourcing, and technology implementation to get done. As all these areas are necessary for a firm to flourish, cooperation and commitment are required from all departments, from legal to marketing to finance, HR, and sales.

In view of the many teams, departments, and individuals involved, a firm that wants to succeed must adopt a well-defined cross-functional team, roles and responsibilities and a cross-functional strategy-focused approach. It’s really only by doing this that silos of work can be avoided, and a smooth operational framework achieved.

Whilst it is vital to form strong partnerships between all departments, it is often legal operations that will be at the very centre. It may not be fully justified, but it’s the lawyers who are often considered a firm’s cost centre, operating in isolation. Painstaking legal work does take time, but unnecessary delays can cause frustration among colleagues.

Yet given the nature of legal work and the complex issues that lawyers deal with, especially in transnational projects, long timeframes can be unavoidable. In departments of all kinds, in compliance, in finance, at the management level and in corporate law, it is ultimately legal operations that play the key role in compliance and risk management, and which act as the ultimate binding force, connecting the legal function with every department across a firm. That means centralizing legal operations and establishing an uninterrupted and flawless communication channel with every team across the board.

However, we have seen so many times now how a communications system overhaul has resulted in the promotion of easy information exchange between teams, with improved document workflow and storage systems. A new approach can improve the efficiency of not only your legal team but of the entire operating model of your company as a whole. In almost all instances, this improves accessibility, competence, and productivity in all areas, fostering better workplace relationships and streamlining all cross-functional processes for both your internal and external success.

Boosting Business Efficiency: The Power of Technology-Driven Solutions

At Newton, we understand all too well how over the past couple of years, Covid-19 and ongoing economic factors have meant that many of you have been forced to recalibrate your organizational and technological tools to facilitate remote working and team collaboration, both legal and otherwise. You may want to achieve that strong strategic operational framework and operating model and seamless cross-functional alignment but aren’t quite sure of the tools you need to use to achieve it.

Yet doing so is necessary; a study by Mckinsey & Company has found that companies that use social technologies can improve the productivity of their employees by at least twenty-five percent.

Your answer to an enhanced business strategy, with improved team collaboration, requires, of course, the incorporation of technology. Excellent new technology is always becoming ever more available and accessible. Even the implementation of a small tech stack, with an investment in tools that will manage your client relationships, reduce spending with external counsel, and will handle and even analyze contracts, will benefit your legal and other departments.

Bo Hagler, Forbes Councils Member, has discussed how companies have benefitted from tools that specialize in the aggregation of data from different systems, that act to provide stakeholders with a “single source of truth” that more accurately reflects the success of their business.

Revolutionizing Collaboration: How Technology is Transforming the Way We Work Together

The advantage of technology is the potential it offers for the huge reduction of tedious and time-consuming micromanagement, and the repetition of basic legal and business tasks. It acts to improve all the cross-functional legal and business initiatives to which you apply it. Technological tools also provide the opportunity for legal professionals to share their innovative knowledge with one another, between legal teams and with other departments, thus reducing all operational risks.

To develop a successful operating model, both your legal operations team and other in-house departments must be encouraged to work together efficiently and share information, with a clear appreciation of your business goals and initiatives. Instead of continuing to operate completely independently, legal teams, in particular, should ensure that they communicate and collaborate with other departments, so as to devise a cross-functional and strategy-based business operating model that supports everyone’s objectives. The use of legal and other technology in this process has become imperative; digital contracting, for example, can simplify all firm and company processes and enhance the existing relationship between legal teams and other departments.

The Rise of Automation: Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets

In both law and business, technology can achieve fantastic results very quickly. It improves collaboration, measures efficiency, reduces repetitive administrative work, and adds an extra layer of intelligence to improve cross-functional work with technology and overall processes. The old days of relying on outdated, colour-coded spreadsheets for cross-functional knowledge and accuracy are gone. Other options are available. However, even the most high-profile companies are having difficulty in encouraging their workers to move away from Excel.

Indeed, a survey by the management company Deloitte discovered that 73% of companies are still using Microsoft Excel to prepare their tax returns.

Yet these old-style spreadsheets have long resulted in lawyers and other workers being forced to complete unnecessary forms that slow down processes, and which are often, in any case, inaccurate. Spreadsheets cannot, of course, update in real-time to implement necessary data transfers or accurately reflect changing business activity. Nor do they accurately reflect the true operating margins, profitability, or project processes of a business.

To thrive in this new era, businesses need to implement a modern entity management system that will both streamline their compliance requirements and promote business growth. In this respect, Newton is unique. We provide a comprehensive range of management solutions and corporate services that act to simplify and automate your governance workflows. This takes the worry off your professional team with regard to document compliance, and risk management, not to mention coordination.

Technology acts to improve your efficient delivery of legal services and the provision of innovative solutions to clients, yet it requires inter-team and departmental collaboration, as well as financial matter- and vendor management – all of which is best facilitated by technology. In short, the strategic use of technological solutions has the potential to transform legal departments from a business cost to a central value creator.

This transformation of your department’s standard operations to becoming a value creator requires the automation of key legal tasks such as contract management, research, compliance, and even analysis to allow a team’s lawyers to focus deeply on more strategic work. You have all the knowledge and skills to lead your organization, but the work required is often so time-consuming that you can’t manage to get it all done. This automation of these tasks will free up you and your team to play a much more significant role in your company, whatever its expertise.

Specialist software completes tasks in the same manner as we humans do but with significantly greater accuracy and, importantly, much more quickly. The assistance of automated technological solutions results in the reduction of risk and improve overall compliance.

A recent study in 2023 has found that currently, nearly 45% of businesses are using automation to cut costs.

That number is only set to grow, and if your competition is doing business this way, shouldn’t you be, too? It’s clear, then, that technology is increasingly shaping the future of business.

The Rise of AI: Revolutionizing Efficiency and Accuracy

It isn’t only standard technology that can help you to improve your business and legal operations. Artificial Intelligence, or AI-powered software, is increasingly popular for use in numerous tasks. As a result:

A survey by of 1,187 business leaders found that 91% of hiring managers are seeking workers with ChatGPT experience. 29% are hiring prompt engineers.

These tools have the ability to accelerate operations and automation of data that in the past would have required long and tedious hours spent inputting it, and, essentially, to eliminate all the monotonous and time-consuming tasks that professionals in law and business have typically been required to perform. As a result, it’s clear that the integration of new technology into legal operations and management processes enhances efficiency in every way.

On that we found quite relevant the LinkedIn post from Superhuman, an AI newsletter with 200,000+ readers that teaches you how to leverage AI to boost your productivity, in this particular LinkedIn post about Chrome extensions.

When it comes to digital transformation, departmental collaboration is necessary for success. Fifty years ago, lawyers, whether working in a firm or as company advisors, would have been employed solely to guide a company on the legal aspects of its business operations. Yet the modern business environment is very different. Each department plays a vital role in your company’s success, and they need to work together. Nowadays:

  • Digital transformation requires team and departmental collaboration for company success
  • Proper alignment with legal operations is a key indicator of company health
  • Legal operations should stress their importance within a firm to avoid being viewed as obstructive cost centres
  • Cross-functional alignment is a sign of legal operations competency

It’s rather difficult to assess the level of alignment of a company until you actually become a part of it. As Russell points out, whilst the negative effects of a badly aligned contracts team may be quickly identifiable, issues related to product liability, for example, might not become evident until they actually arise. That’s why a lawyer working in-house needs to be able to properly understand a company’s true alignment level. Doing so, s/he can identify the key areas in which legal operations can improve the business.

In this new, technologically focused world, the modern digital manner in which legal services are now delivered means that strong collaboration with IT can ensure that project priorities are aligned with business needs. We would advise cultivating a great relationship with the IT team, so that, on their part, they fully appreciate the significance of legal requirements and prioritize them accordingly.

Yet it isn’t all take; Legal and IT can have a mutually beneficial relationship, with a focus on key operations that enable business momentum, and for a direct impact on your clients and security compliance standards.

It can also be useful for the IT department to have the support of a lawyer at meetings who can explain why IT and Legal have settled on particular solutions, especially in relation to issues such as benefits that relate to returns on investment and time-saving tools such as e-billing software and matter management.

Its also important to nurture a collaborative relationship with the finance team. Within an effective company framework, the overall emphasis should be on good communication, collaboration, and alignment.

This will help in the view of legal operations in your firm as a value-add, rather than a cost center. The finance team’s aid and input will also help legal departments to place their focus on prevention, rather than constantly having to react to avoidable problems. Yet despite all these benefits of effective firm-wide collaboration, a 2021 Forbes article, reported that many businesses fail to overcome the barriers involved in achieving seamless cross-functional team working. The intelligent implementation of technology works to reverse this trend.

Mind the Gap: Why Identifying Operational Deficiencies is Critical for Success

Uncovering Hidden Opportunities: Why Identifying Business Deficiencies is Key to Unlocking Growth Potential

The first step in the enhancement of cross-functional teams is the recognition and analysis of existing operational deficiencies. Following this, the next step is the development of new and improved procedures. One approach is the creation of new processes and the identification of any drawbacks or possible issues in the operational system.

This is precisely what Konrad Treter, Operations Manager at City Pantry in London, advises. His useful insights are applicable to all types of businesses. Treter advises that process mapping is a highly effective technique that can be used to achieve this objective. By interviewing your departmental team members, you can discover their procedures and identify the points that require improvement. This presents an excellent opportunity to pinpoint key gaps and areas for improvement. Interestingly, Treter has observed the main problem within a large operational structure tends to be the absence of well-organized processes. This lack results in major process management problems, such as a lack of governance, which occurs when a process is not properly planned and assigned to an appropriate manager.

Empowering your Workforce: How Implementing a Knowledge Management System Can Revolutionize Your Business

One problem occurs with the failure to obtain knowledge, which typically occurs when no proper knowledge management system is in place. Another issue concerns inadequate workforce engagement, which halts process development since workers are not motivated to make the necessary extra efforts to improve process efficiency. By breaking all this information down, practical solutions can be found that will facilitate better organization between all teams in a business for the collaboration and implementation of modifications into their daily operations. Treter advises starting the process mapping process with managers and stakeholders as if they can be convinced of the benefits of process improvement. They’re then more likely to improve their connections with the key stakeholders in each department. It’s also wise to get one or more departments on board first, to help them to understand the potential benefits and improvements that will ensue in their workflow and daily processes. In fact, failing to do this is a common mistake.

Completing the process mapping process provides the potential for the promotion of robust business connections within your company, and the establishment of positive relationships between different departments facilitates the integration of novel technologies. Not only are there so many innovative tools now available that can truly help a business to organize its processes and to grow, but they also massively increase the potential for innovation. Your top priority should be to establish a willingness for strong inter-departmental collaboration before attempting to introduce new digital tools and steer your company towards digital transformation, as it is simply not feasible to do so otherwise.

Simply, to achieve successful collaboration in your teams, you need to use appropriate communication channels and tools. As so many teams are habituated to working independently, this can certainly be a challenge, but by changing this mindset and encouraging team members to understand the benefits of opening up communication channels, progress will speed up. You’ll soon see improved results, whilst employees will soon drop their initial resistance once they see how much more efficiently they can perform their jobs. The effective use of project management and office communication tools will accelerate this collaboration, provided that team members know how to use them effectively.

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Unlocking Valuable Insights: Leveraging Technology for Effective Feedback Gathering

Many tools are free at the point of use, such as Slack for communication, and Zoom for meetings. Zapier is an especially novel tool, enabling you to automate your apps by connecting them through workflows – no coding knowledge is required. Loom is another fantastic tool that has an entire surplus of uses, from aligning your teams, to design, sales, product management and marketing.

Here at Newton, we must stress that we are not affiliated with any of the companies we mention. However, we use them daily in our own work, and as we can vouch for their effectiveness, we’d like to share!

These tools are especially valuable when team members are working remotely and located in different areas, often internationally and in different time zones. To keep your teams in sync with workflows and priorities, project management tools such as Trello, Asana, and Workfront can be utilized. Additionally, cloud storage tools simplify the collaboration process while maintaining quality and version control. In legal operations, the shrewd use of tech tools is becoming increasingly important. In this area, tools have the potential to enhance the capabilities of in-house legal teams and contribute to the overall growth of a company. The legal industry is currently at a critical juncture, and by adopting tools, you can ensure greater efficiency, transparency, and the superior handling of complex issues.

Specifically for legal operations, various tools cater to the diverse needs of lawyers and their teams. These include the use of eDiscovery software that is specifically designed for legal professionals for the management of electronic files and document workflow and storage. This software enables the review, tagging, processing, and creation of electronic files. The entire litigation lifecycle can be managed using a cloud-based eDiscovery platform, from document review to addressing client requests. Perhaps the best feature of this platform is its effortless integration with local storage and database. Then there are contract lifecycle management tools, which enable legal teams to prioritize more critical and strategic tasks. Your cross-functional team can streamline processes by creating standardized contract workflows. Features, such as automatic notifications for terminations and events within legal documents, field associations, and file version control, will assist you in effectively organizing your documents.

Streamlining Your Processes: How Technology Can Simplify Document Organization and Minimize Risk

Our own tool, Newton, provides legal teams with a clear map of task ownership and deadlines as well as a secure way to create, share, and store documents. We make it significantly easier for departments across your company to manage intricate legal entity structures. We provide a personalized web application which will handle all your compliance, large databases, and document requirements with ease. By utilizing Newton, you can implement best practices and minimize your risks. When you’re managing corporate entities, you need to centralize all important information, such as registration, governance, ownership, tax, and compliance data, in one place. By doing so, a single source of truth is created. With Newton, compliance tracking and filing can be easily automated, and deadlines easily met. Newton also provides you with document creation automation, workflow management, and integrated task management to help manage repetitive tasks. If you are responsible for managing many legal entities with multiple stakeholders, we are certain you will find Newton invaluable!

Unlocking Efficiency: The Use of Technology to Improve Your Operational Model and Streamline Client Experiences

When it comes to non-legal resources, numerous options exist. For feedback on your team’s work, tools such as Tally are available. Tally is an excellent tool for creating forms and is as easy to use as creating a Google Doc. If your website states your company policy or information, sophisticated tools will help you to assess how users access and utilize the information. That’s not to forget your website, the actual storefront of your business, so here it’s important that you can ensure a seamless user experience to achieve business conversions. This means that you need to provide your users with an intuitive and hassle-free experience that fosters trust. Microsoft provides Clarity for this purpose, a cutting-edge behavioural analytics tool that is completely free, and which monitors how users navigate your website and identify precisely what does and doesn’t work in less than five minutes flat.

Other excellent tools are available for measuring information, such as Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). To ensure everyone is on the same page, a great step forward could be the establishment of company-wide knowledge and structure for recording and monitoring OKRs. Major companies regularly use the OKR system for measuring and tracking their goals. Examples range from Amazon’s use of its long-established “Leadership Principles” methodology, which it uses to track its company goals, to the massive improvements that Airbnb has seen in its performance since it adopted its use.

While creating OKRs can be a challenging task, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Coda, for example, provides a wide collection of downloadable OKR templates, from which you can choose to smooth the process.

The Future of Teamwork: Leveraging Technology for Improved Collaboration

In a tightly pressured business world, the availability of responsive technological tools has created a double bind. Whilst work of all kinds can now be completed faster than ever before, at the same time, client expectations have increased. That means the onus is on you to increase your knowledge of useful technologies that can help you in your work and that of your team. This knowledge, and your investment in it, is decisive for your business success. The effective use of these fantastic new technologies will lead to greater transparency, fewer mistakes, and better delivery of your services. Don’t rely on outdated methods: embrace new technology in your business and invest in modern tools to improve your ability to communicate and collaborate at work today.

About this article


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