Disrupt or Be Disrupted: SmartDelivery

Pinsent Masons

This article is part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Raise the BAR (Business Adaptability & Resilience) Campaign, sponsored by Western Union Business Solutions. For more campaign content click here. This campaign provides Chamber members with a platform to share learning and inspiration on this agenda. All views and opinions expressed below are those of the author only. 

By Clare Francis, Head of Brexit Advisory, Pinsent Masons

We operate in a market providing legal services to businesses.  Whether that be a company acquisition through to their day to day contracting requirements.  In these times of uncertainty businesses need to protect the bottom line.  Whilst legal advice is important to remain compliant, we found we were continually challenged by our clients who were asking us - how can we do things more efficiently?  How can we get the best value from the services we need?   How can we manage our risks more effectively? 

The opportunity

We saw this as an opportunity for us.  It enabled us to drive forward the “More with Less” agenda with our clients.  We re-imagined the notion of what a lawyer can be.  We changed our mindset to bring solutions to the biggest problems our clients were facing.  We needed to disrupt or be disrupted.  So, we embraced innovation and made some fundamental changes to our business models and the way we deliver our services to clients.  Through this what we now call SmartDelivery was born.  SmartDelivery is the clever combination of people, process and technology that delivers for our clients, faster, better and cheaper.  

The SmartDelivery solution

When you get the right people with the best technology around the table, you know good things are going to happen.  Get the thinking right and you’re unstoppable!  We revolutionised our business to help our clients revolutionise theirs. 

We started with the basics.  We took our processes and made them ruthlessly efficient and consistent. We tailored them round our clients’ needs and added some brilliant technology to make it all work anywhere they need it.  Then it was all about the people. We gave our clients seamless access to the right people at the right cost (including some clever thinking around flexible resourcing) just when they need them. We wanted to be the best law firm for project management, so we invested our brightest minds in the right training and best tools.  And the bespoke technology really sets us apart. All the automation, analysis and data tools you need to save time, money and energy. We invent and reinvent systems.

Our clients are excited – we’re providing more than just legal advice.  We’re collaborating with our clients on big ideas that are making a great difference in their business.  Helping the business to work better for them and their customers.  

Here's an example

When we first started working with a major retailer, 70% of their spend with suppliers was not contracted for. Worse still, only a third of the supplier contracts they did have were based on their preferred terms. The retailer was choosing to take on risk rather than disrupt its supply chain with legal delays.

What was our solution? Using our matter tracker software, we captured key data about each contract, then we worked with the business to build a document automation system. We also built a playbook of preferred contract positions, automatically generating risk notes where there were deviations.

Senior managers also wanted to be able to examine and approve each supplier contract before signature. We worked with them to integrate our processes with their IT systems so that the approval process became significantly smoother while retaining the all-important oversight.

By introducing SmartDelivery in this way, we helped our client move from contracting for 30% of its spend to contracting for 95%. And 85% of these contracts were done on their preferred standard terms. Time to contract was reduced from more than 10 weeks to less than 4 – giving them real competitive advantage.

Ultimately the business got on with business and stopped fighting fires.

What's next?

For us this is part of a journey.  A  journey where we want to break the mould.  We've learnt a lot from collaborating with our clients.  We've grown as a business and its an exciting journey.  For our staff there's the opportunity to work differently.  We've also needed new skill sets.  We now have a multi-disciplinary practice and have new colleagues that are project managers, forensic accounts, technology experts and coders!  It gives us the ability to deliver legal services like we never have before. 

The future is exciting as we continue to look at automatic contract reviews, contracting via blockchain or tracing causes of disputes.  Each solution helping our clients like you do business better, more cost effectively and more competitively. 

The best ideas come from a meeting of minds, an exchange of ideas, a shared interest in a better future.  This is just the start of the conversation.

Pinsent Masons is a global law firm with an office in Birmingham. The firm has an international footprint including comprehensive coverage of the UK's three legal jurisdictions and has been recognised as Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe and Law Firm of the Year 2019 at The Legal Business Awards