e09 Mindset -Checklist Legal Podcast with Verity White 2018

Time to make your contract process more productive

Mindset: Get curious

On this episode of the Checklist Legal Podcast, we look at:

  • Why you have to get your contract process in sync with your contract document
  • An example of an out of sync, slow process and how process mapping fixed it.
  • Why a visual map of a contract process is so useful
  • The common culprits of slow contract processes and how to fix them

And of course our ACTIONABLE CHALLENGE that we have in every episode for you to try



A lawyer’s process expertise is almost as important as their legal expertise

For a contract to operate at optimum productivity, all the users of a contract must row together with complete trust in each other, the contract document and the contract process

Ask the three key Triple O Productivity questions….

Obliterate Key Question: Do we need this step in the process? Can we do something else so this step isn’t needed?

Optimise Key Question: Now we are left with only the necessary process steps, is there a way to make every step in the contract process smooth, simple and speedy?

Outsource Key Question: What parts of the contract process are best completed by…

  • a Robot Minion?
  • a Contract Owner Minion?
  • a Customer Minion?
  • a Minion Minion?
  • Me?

This episode is the why overview of contract process mapping… it lays out the broad way to use Triple O Productivity to improve your contract process productivity… the next episode will delve deeper into the how of contract process mapping.



Our mindset for this episode is GET CURIOUS…

So your actionable challenge is to consider a contract process you find frustrating or slow or annoying and instead of getting frustrated, get curious and make three lists…

  1. Approvals – Make a list of all the different approvals in that contract… when you have all the names and departments of every “approver”, you can then ask them what they “approve”… what are their concerns they are looking for in the contract…
  2. Thresholds – Once you know the approvers and what they are looking for, you can develop a list of thresholds next to each approver… is there a certain level of risk they are concerned about? Are they just wanting to make sure everything is standard? Ask them what (if any) level of risk or value would mean their approval isn’t needed… ask them what areas they are concerned about and add this to the list…
  3. Knowledge management and upskilling – With an understanding of who the approvers are, their current concerns and thresholds for needing to approve or not, you can then provide clear advice about the different options available at different levels… once they have your advice and understand the process themselves, they might not want or need to approve any more or perhaps their approval will take minutes, not days.

For example, if in your investigations, you find the finance team is concerned about the pricing salespeople have given to customers isn’t within correct thresholds, you could take a few approaches..

  • Lock down the pricing so sales people cannot alter it
  • Ask manager or other approvers to confirm the details whilst approving other aspects
  • Create pricing schedules so that Sales people select from only Financed approved levels
  • Set up specific drop down choices so that finance only needs to confirm a drop down box reference instead of every dollar in a contract

So… your actionable challenge is to make a list of all the approvals in your frustrating contract, note the threshold concerns each approver is looking for, and address those concerns where possible with advice or try create contract solutions.



Links to sources from this episode of the Checklist Legal Podcast and background information:

  • Music: Silent Partner, ‘Sway this way’
  • Often a lawyer’s process expertise is more important than legal expertise’ – Sarah McCoubrey, ‘Can plain language change our approach to conflict’ (November 2016) Presented at Clarity2016, Wellington, New Zealand. Retrieved via clarity2016.org/can-plain-language-change-our-approach-to-conflict, accessed 7 June 2017.
  • ‘Lawyers should be enterprise architects’ – George Dent, ‘Business Lawyers as Enterprise Architects’ (2009). 64 The Business Lawyer 279 (2009); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-25. Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1264063
  • ‘Contracts and Legal staff are good at fixing problems. However, this ignores the point that many of those problems could have been avoided.’ IACCM (International Association of Contract & Commercial Management), ‘Top Negotiated Terms 2015: No News Is Bad News’ (21 January 2016) iaccm.com/resources/?id=9105&login&welcome# , accessed 10 June 2017.
  • DocuSign: DocuSign is easy to use and simple to get started. As your skills grow, you can increase the functionality and automate more. Get a 30 day free trial and 10% off if you purchase: https://refer.docusign.com/s/verity
  • Australian Story, ‘She’s Not There’ (14 July 2008) Retrieved via https://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2007/s2304453.htm.

Head to the Checklist Legal Resources page for access to the other templates and examples mentioned in the show.

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