Contract automation requires engagement. If only part of your legal department embraced contract automation, you might wonder how to get the others to adopt it. The answer to this may be relatively simple: take the same nine steps discussed in this eBook in respect of the slow-starters of your team: realise that they are probably not the early adopters but rather part of the mainstream that tends to follow only together with their peers. Put your early adopters’ milestones on the agenda of your team meetings, and praise their efforts – that is what early adopters like. Let them explain what worked and what not, and use their enthusiasm to appeal to the emotions of the others. Emphasise how important their work is for the others, and do not enter into discussions about those others’ problems (find the bright spots). Consider emptying any folders where model contracts and model clauses are otherwise made available (tweak the environment – see below).
Engage the business. Whether you plan to delegate contract creation to the business or not, presenting your new way-of-working to your clients is a great way to receive applause. When Thales, Wessanen and ASML started using contract automation, their first steps was to organise internal roadshows for their (internal) clients. The feedback proved rewarding: “finally you lawyers understand our affairs!”
Thales’ managers started giving useful, detailed feedback. When contract creation is delegated to all procurement managers, do not forget to ask their feedback: business users are amongst the most positive ones involved in contract automation. Your (internal) clients will compliment you for the optimised response-time of ‘Legal’ lately (now, that’s motivating!), your internal clients may compliment you for not delivering contracts with ‘noise’ (i.e. clauses that were left in in a first-draft contract ‘just in case – you’ll never know’ while leaving them out was easy if only a question was asked when creating the contract). Where a procurement department had gone their own way with ‘their’ model purchasing agreements, they might compliment you for the improved quality of contracts. They may as well give precise input for further upgrading your model contracts. All these improvements came up at Thales, where the small legal team engaged their large procurement department with top-class legal tooling.
Establish your contact house style, together. The contract house style is usually a mess – at least, that is our experience. Of course, the actual implementation of a contract house style is usually done by Weagree (although it is easy to do it yourself). And indeed, being a modular, easy to modify aspect of the contracts generated by the Weagree Wizard, implementing contract automation means that all contracts will have one (or two) consistent style of presentation. Being successful in your contract automation effort requires that you engage all members of your team as much as possible. Likewise, you might discover that one of your team members is particularly sensitive to the look and feel of the contracts. What a gift it is to discover that someone in your team gets enthusiast about contributing something so ‘insignificant’ (to you)! Do not consider what many lawyers tend to ignore to be insignificant for all. Engage those who do care.
Negative vs. positive emotion. Negative emotions can motivate people to tackle short-run challenges that require clear, forceful action. As regards, upgrading model contracts and contract automation a liability claim might cause such action – after all, contract automation can be implemented within only a few weeks’ time. Negative emotions are less effective when people need to think flexibly or creatively. For the large and complex model contracts, or for contracts-clustered projects, more creativity may be necessary, at least such automation may require more concentration. If you need to inspire positive emotion, can you point to a bright spot that reminds people that they’ve succeeded in the past?