One of the greatest challenges with contract automation and legal tech is to get everyone to change their way of working. Fact: legal departments with a woman as head of legal are more successful in achieving change than others. Not a little bit better; they outperform significantly.
What do our successful customers do, with a lady as captain? If we ask them, we get somewhat imprecise, vague answers. Even so, we have investigated how Weagree’s contract automation can be implemented successfully. We’ve also asked the help of experts on change management (here is a bestseller).
83 choices to adopting contract automation effectively
Our customers made some 83 successful choices, which we framed in a structure easy to remember and transpose to your own context. Female heads of legal and general counsel:
Accept that resistance is often a lack of clarity. Establish an innovation vision and talk about it. Act accordingly: free up time for those responsible for implementing contract automation. Prioritise legal tech.
Empathise with team members: find the feeling (engage). Make the change steps smaller (everyone is already busy enough). Build a growth mindset – many suffer from a fixed mindset (“not invented here” focusing on objections). Help everyone start with contract automation, if only try.
People who resist, often lack clarity about what to do or how precisely. Shine a light on success stories.
What our successful customers then do
Our successful customers continue exploring how to further optimise their contracting processes: delegate contract creation to ‘the business’. Here, they arrive at the point where contract automation becomes collaborative, and successful in ways that could hardly be predicted.
Our statistics show that women are considerably more successful in having their team to adopt innovation. With 50 customers this might not be statistically reliable; it still is remarkable. And indeed, we also have very successful customers under leadership of a man.
https://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.png00Weagreehttps://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.pngWeagree2018-09-25 13:43:462018-09-25 16:20:44Female Heads of Legal are more successful
We have been listening carefully to our customers, and we know that your accelerated contract drafting does not stop at the creation of a first draft contract. During the forthcoming months, you will see numerous new functionalities, improving your contracting processes.
Here is the first in a series of sneak peek videos: Weagree contract-negotiation-versions management. It’s only 1:30 minute and addresses the stage of contracting:
During the next weeks, more details about the upgrade will follow. In a few sneak peek videos, we will show how you can benefit from the Weagree Wizard.
We plan to organise a demo day, at which the new functionalities will be explained; we will discuss what is needed to make it work for your team. There will be plenty of opportunities to share your experiences with other customers and hear how they are implementing legal-tech. Details will follow shortly – if you know others who would be interested
Quick update on Weagree
Since November 2017, Weagree has doubled the number of its customers. Most of them are well-known corporates with cross-border activities. They all assumed the challenge of changing the way contracts will be made.
https://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.png00Weagreehttps://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.pngWeagree2018-09-11 11:15:252018-09-25 13:44:53Upgrading your contracting process (from start to finish)
Weagree’s advisory board. We strongly recommend that any startup company seeks external advisers, and meet with them regularly. We are proud to have such knowledgeable, experienced and loyal advisory board, always available for quick feedback, tips or reflection, making Weagree’s proposition one of (our values) ‘excellence‘ and ‘learning‘.
And finally, we have the members of Weagree’s advisory board ‘in the picture’. Weagree has been advised by each them individually since we began some 11 years ago; and about five years ago, we started meeting to discuss various topics that an legal tech innovator or startup may encounter in a lifetime. It is certainly not a ‘supervisory board’ and non of our advisers has tasks or responsibilities similar to non-executive directors (by no means), but being able to revert to them proved extremely helpful. Let’s introduce them to you:
Barbara Penders. She is a leader-by-nature, has extensive experience as in-house legal counsel in multinationals (including as former general counsel of Unilever Benelux, responsible for a team of some 60 people). She knows very well what Weagree’s customers need.
Barbara has always been committed to support us, chairs our customer meetings, and sharply analyses how and where we ought to improve our way of working.
Gertjan de Ruijter is a strategist and an original thinker. He has been involved in designing Weagree’s strategy from scratch, always available to soundboard on all kinds of commercial and business aspects.
As a physics engineer and MBA consultant, Gertjan has extensive experience with innovation (before the word was invented), used to work as a business and implementation consultant for Capgemini, as a strategic purchasing manager at Philips Electronics, and has been advising numerous startups and innovators in their growth strategy.
Marijn Rooymans knows the legal sector and in-house legal departments as only few others do. As a renown headhunter and moderator of the largest network of independent legal professionals in the Netherlands, he is well informed about the needs of legal departments and how to optimise legal processes.
Marijn learned of Weagree shortly after we had developed our prototype, has been following us ever since, and has been advising Weagree on all aspects of entrepreneurship. Enthusiastic visionary, always immediately available, but also contacting us whenever he feels there is a need for Weagree to re-focus or re-prioritise our business proposition.
Ruud Harinck is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the legal services industry in the Netherlands. As a founder of leading legal headhunting and selection agency Voxius, Ruud knows ‘as no-one else’ what legal departments of all kinds and sizes need.
Having been attorney at a premier law firm, an in-house legal counsel and a successful pioneer of the legal sector himself, Ruud empathises with Weagree’s mission. Since our beginning (and in fact, as one of our first customers), Ruud has always been available when we needed him in finetuning our support proposals to customers, the improvement of our service model for customers (‘customer-first’ !), and keen to keep Weagree on track to remain successful.
Do you have team members who ‘resist’ change? Are you short of time to innovate effectively? Don’t know where or how to start? Does implementing contract automation feel like a mountain – without a starting point, like an endless project? Do the grapes hang too high for some of your team? Meeting these challenges is easier than you think.
A framework of 9 best practices.
In our ten years of implementing contract automation, Weagree has gained a lot of experience in successful change management. Reason to develop an easy-to-apply framework, with tips, do’s and don’ts how to optimise your contracting processes swiftly – and become a champion.
As ever, we’re sharing our best practices on our website: click here.
It sounds absurd – being incapable to innovate effectively – but many lawyers experience it as their reality. Team members who are:
still creating contracts based on ‘latest-deal example’, spending time on repairing cross-references and inconsistent definitions, removing redundancies at risk of making errors.
not creating contracts in an automated fashion, up to 120 times faster, because “there are too many Q&A questions”. (Did you realise that every Q&A question is relevant and to be answered in old-school contracting as well?)
not structurally allocating time to improving contract know-how, but perpetuating in short-term client-first service. Little ‘pearls’ of transaction-precedents never end up as a model contract or in a proper clause library.
ignoring the importance of model contracts for the so-called ‘urgent’ questions from business managers knocking at your door.
The precondition to your success with innovative technology is its user-friendliness. We have made it our compass. But to change people’s behaviour, you need to steer your elephant.
Introducing the framework – 9 best practices.
Bestseller authors Chip and Dan Heath created the framework for effective change management (SWITCH – Change when changing is hard). To keep their framework simple to copy, they formulated nine best practice rules and divided them into three pillars; they used a threefold metaphor (of an elephant, its rider and their path) to make it manageable.
We translated our own success stories into the nine best practices, and discuss three crucial diagnostic errors that must be avoided if you want to be a successful leader. We presented the framework in a customers meeting in November.
In December 2017, we welcomed some 15 multinationals and law firms as new customers, and quite a number of existing customers picked up our innovation challenge with new user groups. These months, we are supporting them with our framework. So we continue to learn, and will of course keep on sharing our best practices for implementing contract automation.
Contract automation made faster. If only you could multitask, create your contracts much faster, and make model maintenance easier. That’s precisely what the new Weagree contract automation Wizard (version 7.0) does: making contract creation faster than ever before. We added a feature allowing lawyers to multitask and have made template insertion (even) easier.
Multitasking: feedback feature.
Most of us create the best model clauses while drafting a contract for a specific transaction. Your ideal: to capture your creativity and be able to reuse it easily in future contracts!
Of course, you can already edit your contract text during the Q&A (with Weagree’s WYSIWYG editor) and indeed, the clause library is a powerful supporter. But with the new feature, users can feed back improvements to the template. ‘Weagree – accelerated contract drafting’ means easy multitasking: tailoring the specific transaction and improving your contract templates at the same time.
Watch our short 37-second video to learn how intuitive it is. As you’ll see, feedback can be prioritised. And with two clicks, the administrator goes straight to the relevant clause in the template to adopt the desired improvement. Your maintenance of model contracts has become more ‘collaborative’ and has never been as easy.
Producing your contracts faster.
As of mid-February, your contract will be generated in just a few seconds – at the speed of the WYSIWYG editor. Whether it is an NDA or a 75-pages agreement, an LMA credit agreement or an extensive set of closing documents: after answering the Q&A, the Weagree Wizard will produce them as fast as it takes to download them. For large organisations and law firms, generating hundreds of contracts now takes just a few minutes.
Simplifier: making template-insertion even easier.
We believe that every user should be able to insert model contracts, expand the clause library and modify contract clauses. Our ambition is to make Weagree so intuitive that general counsel, law firm partners and senior legal counsel can do it. This is why we’re introducing a distinction between frequently used functions and advanced features: with a simple switch, the advanced features can be filtered out, making Weagree’s template creation tool more intuitive.
With the arrival of legal tech, some law firms have seen the emergence of a new type of lawyer, the ‘legal engineer’. This may be the sad reality around contract automation solutions built on legacy technology. Not so in the case of Weagree. Rather, the so-called engineering part is a puzzle, making contract automation exciting and by no means technical. Our template insertion has now become easier by allowing an administrator to filter out those features that are used less frequently.
The new ‘simplifier’ button has further optimised our administrator training: the entire admin training programme takes two to three hours in total for millennials or some four to six hours for baby boomers (in each case with a bit of hands-on follow-up coaching).
https://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.png00Weagreehttps://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.pngWeagree2018-01-31 14:02:442018-01-31 14:08:05100+ contracts in under two minutes, and multitasking
In this blogpost, we will elaborate on adopting innovations and, illustrated by reference to the product lifecycle, it explains an aspect of how to implement contract automation. The handbook to everything Weagree does and fundamental to the strategy of Weagree is described by Geoffrey Moore. Moore’s bestseller Crossing the chasm – Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers uses the ‘product lifecycle’ as the starting point for an innovator’s entire strategy. The book explains how to reach the mainstream market (beyond the early adopter stage).
In the product lifecycle (also referred to as the ‘technology adoption lifecycle’ or the ‘law of diffusion of innovations’), five segments are recognized, each referring to a type of personality. You have probably heard about them:
Innovators: those who need no manual or support, who sleep in front of the shop in order to be the first to buy and use it – those who are keen to find the first bugs and defects, not because they seek your failure but because they want to be a father of your success. For Weagree, the innovators were ASML, TNO and AkzoNobel.
Early adopters: people who search for the newest thing; who are willing to go through the process of completing an innovation for the jump-step in their own career. Early adopters herald their successes, even if success is yet still to be reconfirmed. An early adopter, financing Weagree’s multi-document-creation and collaborative-contracting functionalities in 2014, was EndemolShine.
Early majority: people who are averse of revolutions, breakthroughs or leaps forward – a mere improvement is sufficient to them – and who rely on their peers. Weagree reached this part of the market in 2014, although for a number of subsegments and for many countries, contract automation is still far away.
Late majority: people who may follow. Or not – they are usually the last ones of your class, a year after the rest).
Laggards. Simon Sinek describes them as the people who hate change, who would only move away from their current affairs if staying there has become impossible.
Apply it to everything in your life
You will find this adoption lifecycle (and likewise these persons) in every market with every kind of product (contract automation is no exception). And if you think about it, you know who in your personal circle will tell you about the latest fashion, where to buy the wow-shoes or coolest clothes for the forthcoming season, which music will become popular and to which festival you must go.
Those people can also be found when it comes to buying your innovative idea. If someone tells you that he or she is not an innovator, but the ‘ideal follower, the first one to adopt a new technology or solution’; then you know: this is not even an early adopter but a mainstream customer.
At Weagree, we met a number of them: law firms tend to follow each other, rather than assessing what quality requires and taking a lead. Law firms (also the large ones) do ‘not typically’ have a vision but rather follow the mass. At the same time, while this is true for legal tech and legal-service-business-models, law firms may well host innovators of their own: partners who apply previously unused legal concepts or develop novel legal solutions which stay within the borders of the law.
Innovations may well disrupt preceding innovations (even before the latter become mainstream). For example, the first-generation contract automation solutions entered the market before 2003. They carry very burdensome implementation restraints and which imply limitations on the technical possibilities due to legacy technology platform. The Weagree Wizard was developed after 2003, on a more recent technology platform and with the fundamental advantage of not being integrated with MS Word. This made it possible to introduce a true clause library, to facilitate the administrators (for template insertion authoring) with visual admin tooling (not requiring any coding at all, not even the ‘not-coding’ promulgated by Weagree’s competitors), and a WYSIWYG editor (enabling a user, ridiculously user-friendly, to tweak the contract text while answering the questionnaire).
Apply it to your innovative idea
According to Moore, the marketer should focus on one group of customers at a time, using each group as a base for marketing to the next group. The most difficult step is making the transition from the visionaries (early adopters) into the group of pragmatists (early majority). Between these two groups of people is what Moore calls ‘the chasm’ (pronounce ‘kassum’). The product lifecycle is also mentioned by Simon Sinek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA#t=10m55s
Behind the chasm is a group of people who do not rely on what early adopters say. They rely only on what their peers (behind the same chasm say). And because none of them will act without your product being ready for it, you should not applaud when one sheep leaps over the ditch, but only once two of them did! Two sheep will enjoy conversing about your innovative idea, and because two can entertain a conversation (not one) the rest will follow. Make sure that they have a nice story to tell!
Implementing contract automation
When launching an innovation, or launching the Weagree Wizard in your organisation, make yourself familiar with the phenomena ‘crossing the chasm’. Keep your eyes open for those persons who are looking for the newest things. First things first: so first create ‘the whole product’ out of your initial idea together with your early adopters and only then plan your D-Day strategy: your quest for conquering the mainstream market, and cross the chasm! Weagree has followed this strategy meticulously and with success. Our contract automation solution did cross the chasm in 2014.
When implementing the Weagree Wizard in your organisation, involve your innovators and early adopters: they will likely herald the roll-out of your innovation, and be the ambassador to your envisaged mainstream users.
The book Crossing the chasm is Weagree’s bible: the first edition dates back from 1991, Weagree refers to the revised, second edition (1999), whereas in 2014 the third edition was published, in each edition describing the key dynamics by reference to the most recent innovations adopted by the market. This blogpost was previously visible on the 2015-website of De BLIC (written by Willem Wiggers)
Innovation bonus discount. We want to help our customers and other organisations interested in contract automation by offering extra implementation-flexibility for a limited period. Therefore: until 30 November 2017, we are offering everyone an innovation bonus:
For a perpetual licence a discount of 30 percent will apply. Our innovation bonus allows for flexible planning of your organisational roll-out and should be an appealing psychological incentive. You won’t easily be paying too much.
Certain users may feel disconcertingly out of touch with their contract when answering the questionnaire of a contract template.
Of course, Weagree’s WYSIWYG underwater screen previewer gives a strong sense of control over contract creation. Nevertheless, a questionnaire may sometimes feel like a pipeline. This is particularly inconvenient for those who want to be in full control of their contract.
Launching our contract automation WYSIWYG editor.
We are now accommodating the (full) control freaks among the lawyers. Take a look at it yourself (30 seconds video):
Determined to continue improving user-friendliness, and at the request of our customers Thales and ASML, we are releasing the WYSIWYG editor. Contract creation has become ridiculously user-friendly.
During the questionnaire:
Full users can now edit the contract as well. The resulting contract will include all your tweaks.
All users can detach the WYSIWYG underwater screen. In a second browser, your contract will scroll along with you while you answer the Q&A.
“WYSIWYG” means what you see is what you get – so you can see your contract in the WYSIWYG previewer, in which you can now edit it as well.
Users with whom we discussed this new functionality signalled a next feature. At 0:11 and at 0:22 seconds in the above video, you can see the user editing the contract.
Wouldn’t it be marvelous, for contract know-how management purposes, if the user could add a Post-It note to the edited text for later, or for the administrators? They would be able to pick up the Post-it and update the contract template.
We wouldn’t be Weagree if this co-creative suggestion didn’t excite us. The Post-it feature is forthcoming.
Introducing red flags.
We have also made delegation of contract automation easier: if a certain contract option requires close attention, the person answering the Q&A will be alerted by a red flag notice popping up underneath their answer. Take a closer look at (the first five seconds of) the above 30-seconds video.
Yes, we went mobile, a few weeks ago.
You may have missed our previous newsletter. Only a few weeks ago, Weagree went ‘mobile’: contract automation is now available on smartphones and tablets. We have improved the accessibility of the clause library, which of course supports the bespoke quality of your generated contracts.
And yes: it is also available on smartphones and tablets.
For more information about the new release, contact us.
https://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.png00Weagreehttps://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.pngWeagree2017-07-11 19:42:112017-09-18 14:04:47Ridiculously user-friendly: our new WYSIWYG editor
Swiping and tapping your contract on mobile or tablet! We released a major upgrade of the Weagree Wizard and the marvelous experience on smartphones and tablets is available for all our customers.
A few highlights…
…of our transition to ‘mobile first’:
Seeing only what is relevant for you; with a sense of full control over your contract: using the Weagree Wizard will become even easier.
Previewing your contract as you’re creating it; the WYSIWYG underwaterscreen, your real-time contract editor, is realistic. And of course: on mobile you can swipe to it.
The Weagree Wizard is faster: not that it was by any means slow, but when you answer the questionnaire of an LMA, SPA or a Strategic Purchase Agreement, it will open and proceed at once.
Search and filter functionality can be folded out, when you need it.
Our contract creation software upgrade was inspired by our collaboration with the United Nations and WTO: while their main target audience, SME in developing countries, usually have good access to internet, internet access is typically through mobile phones and tablets. More about our collaboration with them shortly.
Your clause library.
Maybe this summer is a good period to improve your clause library? If you need an incentive, this Weagree Wizard release further improved it:
The clause library is easier to access from within a contract questionnaire: facilitating you to ‘plug in’ and tailor model contract clauses halfway the contract you’re creating (and as always, the related definitions and annexes will come along and position appropriately). On mobile phones, this works with a few swipes and screen-taps only.
Your model clauses are now ordered and displayed the way people read-scan a website. So on mobile phones, searching your clause library follows your intuition.
This release version 6.0 also includes functionality to import entire Word-documents into the Weagree Wizard. Also, we further improved the template creation tooling. This means several improvements:
Administrator training time is further shortened: learning how to insert or modify a template and how to build the related questionnaire is now two blocks of less than 2½ hours each (plus a few hours of follow-up coaching).
Our administrators have more fun inserting templates and building questionnaires: little copy pasting. For Weagree administrators, user-friendliness prevails – no coding (never – not even under the strictest interpretation of ‘no coding’)!
We approximate our ambition that template insertion work must be easy for every type of user. We already welcomed partners and several general counsel who themselves insert or modify their precious templates and optimise questionnaires.
System requirements. Before releasing the upgrade to customers with (very) large user groups, we want to make sure it is going to work: this release upgrade supports all recent browsers, but if you’re still using Internet Explorer 9 (despite its severe security vulnerabilities) the user-friendliness may not improve – and unfortunately, many larger organisations are still using it.
Updates to integration plugins. Our customer EndemolShine connected Weagree with Effacts, which reconfirmed the robustness of our external-integration technology. Of course, all related updates and plugins were built to plug-and-play, are packaged in this version 6.0 and available to all Weagree licensees. If you want to see which data can be exchanged between your IT systems and the Weagree Wizard (it’s more than you think!) let us know.
At the request of our customers Thales and ASML, we will further develop the WYSIWYG underwaterscreen. It will support contract creation on two monitors and enable a user to edit their contract text while answering the questionnaire! Also, we have a few customers that will embed the Weagree Wizard in their corporate IT environment, which will result in additional external-integration features available for all our customers.
https://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.png00Weagreehttps://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.pngWeagree2017-06-21 19:07:242017-06-21 19:11:25Contract automation for smartphone and tablets - Weagree Wizard major upgrade
Every once in a while, I address a classic miscellaneous clause. This time, I would like to discuss entire agreement clauses (also referred to as, amongst other names, merger clause).
For examples of previous blogs click here (on severability), click here (on counterparts), click here (on language and translations) or here (some notes on best efforts).
Often, a contract will replace a preceding contract, a letter of intent or a mere exchange of e-mails in which the basics of a possible transaction are fine-tuned. Also, a contract is in many cases the end-result of what started with an information memorandum, a ‘binding bid’ or one or more (product or business) presentations. Furthermore, during the negotiations, the parties will likely have expressed their intentions as to how they would perform in certain specific cases or how they would generally behave in a certain context. When it comes to important or otherwise key issues of the transaction, the parties will include these in the final contract. At the same time, the parties will generally have acted in a promotional mood to get the deal done, without necessarily assuming all promises made. Eventually, they will write down in their contract the minimum of what is important or necessary and, later on, they will probably perform, formally committed or not, also in light of the other party’s behaviour.
This is why contracting parties limit their contractual obligations to what is negotiated and written in the contract itself and why they wish to exclude preceding communications and arrangements. Obviously, what will be carved out by the arrangement should be limited to what needs to be carved out (and not also cover unrelated or adjacent arrangements). If a term sheet or letter of intent needs to terminate, this should preferably be done explicitly by including all identifiers of a contract. Strictly speaking, this needs to be done by the relevant party to any such letter of intent in order to achieve full certainty but in real life no one will bother if an affiliated company does so.
Entire Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the Parties on the subject matter of this Agreement and supersedes any preceding agreement between the Parties on the subject matter of this Agreement only. In particular, the Letter of Intent on the Acquisition of all Shares in Johnson Distribution Services Holding GmbH dated 18 May 2008 between [A] and [B] is hereby terminated.
The binding effect of an entire agreement clause remains somewhat uncertain and always subject to interpretation. The European Member State laws somehow accommodate the above considerations, given the following provision in the Draft Common Frame of Reference (DCFR), an authoritative preparatory work for a European Civil Code:
Art. II. – 4:104: Merger clause
(1) If a contract document contains an individually negotiated clause stating that the document embodies all the terms of the contract (a merger clause), any prior statements, undertakings or agreements which are not embodied in the document do not form part of the contract.
(2) If the merger clause is not individually negotiated it establishes only a presumption that the parties intended that their prior statements, undertakings or agreements were not to form part of the contract. This rule may not be excluded or restricted.
(3) The parties’ prior statements may be used to interpret the contract. This rule may not be excluded or restricted except by an individually negotiated clause.
(4) A party may by statements or conduct be precluded from asserting a merger clause to the extent that the other party has reasonably relied on such statements or conduct.
If mutual trust and cooperation are important characteristics of a transaction, the contracting parties should be reluctant to insert an entire agreement clause in their contract. This may be particularly sensitive if extensive discussions between them have led to various arrangements, which have not necessarily been incorporated in the transaction agreements. Of course, if arrangements in a letter of intent have been renegotiated or were the subject of giving and taking of other benefits, the exclusion of a specific document is recommendable. A drafter should consider the impact of emails and other arrangements in the block notes of one party but not the other.
https://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.png00Weagreehttps://weagree.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/logo-weagree.pngWeagree2016-09-23 12:24:372017-06-14 18:31:55Entire agreement and merger clauses