Contingency Planning for COVID-19 For Your Legal Team
The coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Since then, teams around the world have worked to prevent the spread of the contagion: reducing face-to-face meetings, avoiding shaking hands, practicing ‘social distancing,’ and shifting to work-from-home (WFH) policies. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been instrumental in assessing the potential impact on public health. They have also helped to promote business continuity plans for regions that could be most impacted by COVID-19.
Certainly, remote working and using protective equipment, like rubber gloves and face masks, when in close contact with others in crowded environments, is important. However, the legal space can also benefit from contingency planning for COVID-19. Whether they are in the U.K., mainland Europe, or the U.S., legal teams simply need to plan ahead to keep businesses running – despite a large number of stay-at-home workers.
IMPACT ON LEGAL TEAMS
Naturally, the COVID-19 outbreak immediately evokes thoughts of using force majeure clauses or arguments in relation to contractually missed obligations. It is rather easy to see this being applicable in many cases. But it goes beyond the force majeure clause and one argument. Contingency planning for COVID-19. Legal teams need contingency plans to keep the business running.
A March 6 IACCM article on contingency planning for COVID-19 lays out an important point about force majeure. “Ultimately, whether force majeure is applicable comes down to the details of the clause, and how it was written.” This means that legal teams need a contract lifecycle management (CLM) system that allows for a contextual search of their contracts. Better yet, the team needs an AI-based CLM that understands requests outside of exact word searches.
IS IT TOO LATE?
Let’s face it, we are already in crisis mode. A pandemic has been declared. Contingency planning for COVID-19 – beyond the banal recommendations, like WFH – is a requirement for legal and executive leadership teams. That’s in order to drive informed business decisions in the coming months.
Contingency Planning for COVID-19: Lucky Few
Recent research into legal teams in corporations reveals that 62 percent still report using manual methods for their contract management processes. In other words, most organizations are still using Excel to track contracts. And this means that contracts may still be printed, sitting in filing cabinets, and stored across network drives throughout the company. As a result, only 38 percent are a part of the lucky few who have a CLM system fully supporting them.
CONTRACT CLAUSES & ANALYSES
Your team may be working from home to avoid spreading and receiving the contagion. But they still need access to contracts and contract analytics. In fact, it is during a crisis that service obligations come directly into question. During times like this, the senior leadership team often wants to know about the company’s agreements as a whole. How many contracts have a particular indemnity clause? How many are missing terms that should be standard?
If you do not have a CLM system and need one – despite being smack in the middle of a crisis – simply ask for help! One of the core elements of a CLM is a smart contracts repository and an AI-based analytics engine. A good CLM vendor can work with your team to co-ordinate a basic out-of-the-box solution. Implementation means using an encrypted connection to scour network drives and find contracts to migrate over to your emergency CLM. In fact, a quick-deploy solution can be implemented within a matter of two to five weeks.
The idea here is to get the core functionality up and running as quickly as possible. This way, the team still has access to the entire set of contracts, especially when an issue arises with a partner, provider, or client.
E-SIGNATURES AND WORKFLOWS
It is not just about crisis management and being able to run contract analytics on the full set of agreements. During times of crisis, companies must continue doing business. There is still a need for agreements to be digitally signed and for approval workflows to kick in.
CLEANING SERVICES EXAMPLE
When it comes to contingency planning for COVID-19, we rarely think about companies that thrive as a result of the pandemic. However, many companies have seen a sharp increase in their business activity.
62% still report using manual methods for their contract management processes. There is an intense need for the services of a major cleaning organization, for example. Businesses that fall into this category need workflow automation tools implemented immediately.
Like many other companies’, their staff can work from home. But working remotely means that they cannot walk from office to office to get a contract signed and expedited. Signing is no longer a pen-and-paper affair; rather, a digital transmission through a PDF document, for instance.
CLM systems equipped with built-in e-signatures and workflow processes are absolutely necessary. Having built-in workflows means that an attorney or legal assistant can co-ordinate and process the contract approvals and sign-offs remotely. Team productivity can be restored.
As any good salesperson knows, the quicker that you can get a contract signed for a new deal, the less likely the deal will halt, go sideways – or become lost altogether. Frankly, that’s why the e-signature business is doing well at the moment. It allows companies to close deals more efficiently. It is a basic requirement of a good CLM.
BALL’S IN YOUR COURT
Whether you are looking for a smart repository, AI-based analytics, E- signatures, remote workflows, or crisis management elements like reporting and search, a solid contract management system will only help your legal team. And a robust CLM solution, in particular, should be a part of your contingency planning for COVID-19. Check out our whitepaper, “Contract Management Crisis Preparedness for GCs.”
Contact us at ContractPodAi today. And within a few weeks, we can have you up and running with the core functionality that your legal team needs to continue working effectively. That’s important given that the coronavirus could take another three to five months to dissipate.
Indeed, unprecedented times require unprecedented solutions like ContractPodAi’s CLM.
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