The legal department at DNV GL is enjoying the benefits of global collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, DNV GL is the leading provider of risk management and quality assurance services to the maritime, oil and gas, and power and renewables industries. The company is also a global leader in certifying management systems of companies across all types of industries, including healthcare, food and beverage, automotive and aerospace. DNV GL has 350 offices located worldwide.
The company’s Group Legal Department is also headquartered in Oslo, but lawyers are distributed internationally – from Shanghai in China to Houston in the USA.
Over-Reliance on Email
As with any Legal Department, document management is an essential functional business requirement at DNV GL, and the team was using a variety of tools including file servers and SharePoint for the function. In the absence of a central repository and with 25 lawyers in the Legal Department spread across nine different locations, document management, communication and collaboration were proving difficult.
“We had substantial communications challenges due to our team of lawyers spread across the varied time zones,” Thina E. Ytterhorn, Deputy Group Legal Director, DNV GL Group, elaborated. “As we didn’t have a formal, structured system, our individual Outlook accounts too served as a document management system. So, while we could create folder structures in our individual Outlook systems, of course, no one else could access that information.
Given that typically a lawyer receives anything between 50 – 100 emails (with attachments) a day, a huge amount of critical information on matters resided in lawyers’ inboxes. File servers and SharePoint to an extent helped with information sharing in local offices, but weren’t conducive to sharing knowledge and experience across an international team.”
The Legal Department presented its business challenges to DNV GL’s IT Department who undertook a broad investigation of the various solutions available on the market to present a shortlist of the top three options.
The Legal Department chose iManage Work. “iManage ticked all the boxes. The solution’s integration with Outlook represented an easy next step for the team. The user interface is excellent and familiar, given that Outlook is our key work application,” Ytterhorn commented.
DNV GL explored the market for an implementation partner too, shortlisting two technology vendors. Ytterhorn said, “We spoke to several firms that had already adopted iManage in Norway. Ascertus came up in many instances and the feedback was very positive every time. During the negotiation process it became apparent very quickly that Ascertus would be the best fit for us from every aspect – price, their understanding of our requirement through to their approach to technology deployment and post implementation support. Most importantly, we were able to establish a personal rapport with the Ascertus team during the negotiation phase itself.”
Ascertus worked closely with DNV GL’s IT Department to understand the organisation’s infrastructure environment and security needs.
Jon Wainwright, Sales Director, Ascertus Limited, explained, “We undertake a thorough process to understand the customer’s IT infrastructure and the skills needed at our end, right up front. This investment on our part ensures that there are no unforeseen road blocks during the actual implementation.”
Working closely with the Legal Department, Ascertus helped design the matter folder structure in iManage Work so that the system configuration adequately supported the business requirements. Ytterhorn commented, “It’s only the design phase that took up our time and we were happy to invest in it to ensure that the solution met our needs. The solution implementation was entirely handled by Ascertus and our IT Department. There was minimal disruption to our work, which we were delighted about.”
Rather than undertaking a mass migration of all the data, the Legal Department identified the specific data sources that it initially wanted to transfer into iManage Work. Now, with iManage Work up and running, the Legal Department is gradually migrating key data from the file servers and SharePoint into the knowledge share section of the system.
Everything in its place
First and foremost, the Legal Department now has a single location for all its data globally. This is enabling knowledge sharing. The Legal Department has created an archive for knowledge-led information in iManage Work, to which the global team contributes and is continuously being augmented.
The search functionality provided by iManage Work has proved to be very beneficial to the legal team. “This is a big win for us,” Ytterhorn said. “The team can easily search iManage Work for similar matters and documents. For instance, my colleague in a different location can search for a company name and identify the lawyers who have previously worked with that organisation and build on the work that has already been done for that customer. This was impossible before.”
The solution is facilitating seamless collaboration across the Legal Department. Lawyers collaborating on matters work from within the same workspace in iManage Work. Team members have complete visibility of the status of matters, projects and contracts. They can also contribute with their expertise across different projects, regardless of where in the world they are located.
To ensure the necessary confidentiality of matter information, lawyers set the appropriate security and access levels so that only those with authorisation have access to sensitive data.
The Legal Department has also integrated iManage Work with Microsoft Power BI. The Department is developing insightful reports on the status of matters being worked on, which organisations across the globe the company is working with, where they are located and so on.
Ytterhorn concluded, “We’ve got off to a very positive start with iManage. Already we have made great strides in meaningful knowledge sharing and collaboration across the global team. The solution has removed many of the issues that previously interfered with our core business activity. We will continue to incrementally improve the design as we get better at using the solution so that it evolves with our business requirements.”