A Technology Roadmap Helps Keep Costs in the Middle of the Road, While the Team Accelerates in the Fast Lane
By Jennifer J. Salopek
NetApp began its value journey three years ago, when Matt Fawcett joined the company as general counsel. Fawcett’s first order of business was to create a totally new function, Operations, hiring Connie Brenton as Chief of Staff and Director of Operations. With Brenton’s arrival, the task of optimizing the legal department’s support for a growing 13,000 employee company accelerated. A new focus on analytics and metrics, and a shift to managed services outsourcing, provided the fuel.
With a focus on reducing inefficiencies, Legal Ops launched a four-point plan:
- Developing a technology roadmap;
- Integrating dashboards and analytics;
- Developing a managed service provider; and
- Implementing value-based fee arrangements with outside firms
New metrics played a key role in NetApp Legal’s use of information and intelligence to identify areas for improvement. One such area was contract management and administration. By utilizing electronic signature functionality known as “Instant NDA,” a process that formerly took days (or even weeks) can now be completed in a matter of minutes. This decreased cycle times by 350 percent, returning to the company more than 500 days of productivity in the first year.
“The reality of our business is that deals happen 24/7 across multiple borders and time zones,” says Fawcett. “We have to build processes that acknowledge that reality and do not impede the business.”
NetApp’s partnerships with a new managed service provider (Elevate) and a new technology provider (Sky Analytics) have been a game changer. As willing beta testers, NetApp Legal is on weekly strategy calls with these cutting-edge professionals, developing new, real-time reports to track and analyze everything from what a “right rate” should be for a particular lawyer in a particular field, to what the “right” number of resources should be on a matter, to billing accuracy.
The information is put to good use: After tracking and analyzing the data in unique and innovative ways, NetApp Legal shares the information with external firms. Hand in hand with Elevate, they conduct quarterly business reviews with outside counsel. Acting as a neutral third party, Elevate helps tell the story, with both quantitative and qualitative feedback. “This helps to build a more active and symbiotic partnership with outside counsel,” Brenton says.
The numbers benefit the collective inside and outside team. The data allows NetApp to modify the way it does business based on objective criteria; outside counsel use the data to apply process improvements across their entire client base. The collaborative process is mutually beneficial and builds trust. Indeed, one of the primary benefits of sharing this information with outside counsel partners is that the exercise of presenting the data incites behavior change. The methodology changes the way NetApp and its outside counsel relate and do business together.
Using Sky Analytics, NetApp continues to search for opportunities to embrace more predictable and fair billing models than traditional hourly-based fees, better aligning investment to value and results, rather than just time. “The reports are showing us how matters are resourced, so we can look for changes in behavior or staffing models,” says Brenton.
From left to right: Lilia Rose, Anne Hoge, Lisa Borgeson, Elizabeth Ward, Sandy MacDonnell, Tim O’Leary, Dana Varney, Eli Casey, Kate Humphreys, Susan Robertson, Dierk Schindler, Connie Brenton, Matt Fawcett (kneeling), Cheryl Cullins-Wynn, Apryl Lane, Emily Stoddard Teuben, Maureen Heckman, Liz Weiner, Paul Anawalt, Lillian Yen, Susan Lewis, Valerie Velasco, Doug Luftman, Beth Little and Mike Haven
“We also sought opportunities to choose from a large mix of options—interns, temporary legal support, people across borders—all of whom should be client invisible. But, inside the sausage factory, is a more cost effective, scalable, resilient department not predicated on a single person or single set of solutions,” says Fawcett.
As a data storage company, NetApp has a corporate culture that appreciates and anticipates technology. Watching the business adopt new technology and SaaS solutions, NetApp Legal decided to follow suit, developing and executing a legal technology roadmap. Although the roadmap is still in development, the department has already adopted a contract management platform and identified and decommissioned redundant or underutilized tools.
“We were in a position to innovatively create an infrastructure for the department, and we’re now integrated into the infrastructure of the whole corporation, from e-billing to records management,” says Brenton.
The move has been good for the legal department’s relationship with its internal clients. “It’s been a healthful effort, looking at our technology with a long-term vision,” Fawcett says.
“When you see better, you plan better; when you plan better, you execute better, and when you execute better, you deliver predictable results that have the potential to create differentiated value for the client.”