Lawyers are known to get bogged down drawing up new agreements, reviewing and commenting agreements prepared by others, and consulting colleagues on controversial contract issues, just to name a few.
If you’re a lawyer, you certainly know how difficult it can be getting all your incoming requests (by email, messengers, or on paper) in order.
But if you work in marketing or logistics and need to contact your lawyer colleagues frequently, you probably aren’t often aware of what stage your request is at. How much time will you have to wait for an answer? Has the lawyer actually received the amendments and comments you made?
How does WorkFlowSoft automate this process? Let’s take a look at the case of Beautyart, a publishing house specializing in health and beauty magazines. The company does a lot of work with freelance authors, photographers and other subcontractors on varying contractual terms, and is growing rapidly and expanding its legal department.
Let’s assume the company had just a single employee in charge of agreements at the start who received all agreement creation and approval requests from their colleagues.
We can add a new process to handle agreements and call it Contract creation/approval. This can be done by any lawyer, office manager, coordinator, or business unit head—no need to bother IT! Process fields and workflow can be set up in just 10 minutes thanks to the system’s simple interface.
Then we need to add information about the process in the description field, for example: “Here you can place a request to create or approve a contract. Complete all the fields, describe the task in detail, and attach the required files.”
Now let’s decide on the fields a request will contain. The most important is the essence of the task (i.e. what needs to be done), so we add Contract title and Brief description of the contents. Next come the details, like the contract sum and date it needs to be prepared by.
We’ll also add the Counterparty field, where you can select the legal entity the agreement will be entered into with. Of course, you can just make a text field where employees manually type in the company names, but this might lead to inconsistencies: one employee might call the company Photo Studio LLC, another LLC Photo Studio, a third might omit the abbreviation altogether and just put in Photo Studio, while a fourth might make a typo like Photo Stdio.
WorkFlowSoft helps avoid this confusion and ensure consistency with the Lists function. In Settings, you can create a Counterparts list that includes all the companies you are working with, and then just add this list to the process. Please note this is not a selection from preset options - you can also use the Settings menu to add new companies to the Counterparts list, and they will automatically become available in your process without needing to make any changes.
Let’s make John, our only lawyer, the assignee. The request starter should be specified as the inspector so he can see work results and send the task back to John for revision if necessary.
At this stage of development, there are no linked tasks: all tasks are received from applicants and assigned to a single lawyer. But the legal department and its functions grew over time, which means it’s high time to customize the workflow. First we can add new mandatory fields, like a counterpart’s country of origin.
We can also change the workflow. Let’s say the legal department hired a new manager, Peter, and now he receives all the incoming tasks and distributes them among his colleagues. So we create the first task for Peter, Choose lawyer. In this task, he will select the assignee for each request depending on its scope. Then we create the second task, Create or approve a contract, which will be automatically assigned to the selected lawyer. Add the request starter as the inspector—then he will be able to return this task to the lawyer if he considers the result unsuitable.
We can also add a field about additional approvers if the agreement requires a non-trivial process. For example, you provide specific equipment to a freelance photographer before they begin their shoot. In this case, your warehouse division needs to know the equipment must be given to the photographer.
To do this, we add the Which department will further confirm field, and select Logistics or Production. Then we create two links after the assigned lawyer’s task: to the Confirm contract with the Logistics department and Confirm contract with the Production department tasks.
Then we need to set the right conditions in every link. The condition for the link to Confirm contract with the Logistics department should be that the Which department will further confirm field equals Logistics. Similarly, the condition for the link to Confirm contract with the Production department should be that the Which department will further confirm field equals Production.
So if the process starter chooses Logistics in the Which department will further confirm field, then the agreement finalized by the designated lawyer will be automatically sent for approval by John, head of the logistics. This is how it should look in the scenario with the photographer.
Upon request completion, its starter can evaluate the quality of service. To do this, create one more task for the starter: Rate the prepared contract, an excellent and unbiased feedback channel!
As for cases without any additional approvals required, add a direct link from the lawyer’s task to the Rate the prepared contract task, and specify the condition that the Which department will further confirm field should be empty. This way, the process will automatically go to the starter’s evaluation stage upon the lawyer’s approval.
To sum up, you can customize and expand the workflow in accordance with the structural and functional changes in business units or in the entire company. Tune your business processes for the realities of your business!