We noted that 40% of the legal staff’s working time is spent on recurring numerous low skill solicitations. Legal personnel are expected to be fully available, hyper reactive and required to provide guidance on complex business issues rapidly. When these solicitations require time, legal personnel are seen as the ones who slow down business.
Torn between cutting 20% of operating costs and significantly increasing internal clients’ quality of service
SNCF rail group currently counts 300 legal experts across three public service companies “with an industrial and commercial mission” (EPICs Etablissement Public à caractère Industriel et Commercial (SNCF EPIC, SNCF Mobilités, SNCF Réseau). These legal experts work in a variety of locations in France close to field teams. They respond to a wide variety of requests, ranging from very operational issues (requiring very quick but precise answers), to much more difficult cases handled as a project and requiring enlistment of legal and non–legal expertise (engineering, finance, etc..) from both inside SNCF and outside firms (law firms, experts, ..).
The Legal Department also faces higher legal challenges: opening the rail market to competition in France in 2020, changing its legal status to a Corporation (Societé Anonyme) and more generally increasing court actions from civil society.
In the meantime, there are strong pressures to reduce support functions operating (and therefore legal) costs by 20% within the next 4 years.
4 months to experiment 4 innovative work solutions and demonstrate their value scaled up
Using the legal department’s digital transformation as leverage, the initial big picture was to change the future of work. This was imagined by enhancing internal legal customers experiences using alternative communication channels rather than regular emails, phone calls or newsletters:
- Transferring recurring and low skill intensity tasks to a chatbot
- Providing a contractual robot to allow field teams to operate with more autonomy in elaborating contracts, all the while easing collaboration between legal experts and external parties during validation and signature phases of a contract.
- Implementing “micro-learning” solutions to accelerate awareness and training on very specific subjects (workplace harassment, personal data protection, etc…)
- Creating “legal designs” to disseminate formal legal knowledge by making it more understandable to operational workers.
The first two months were dedicated to defining an ambition perimeter, assessing the usability and adoption effort of these proposed changes. Starting from the current issues and their root causes, the Legal Department worked on building an ideal future: better client centricity and efficiency.
A start-up fair gathering the latest technologies and work solutions inspired the teams to think beyond their daily working practices and start rating the possible solutions on the following criteria: newness, usability and feasibility.
Concepts were then selected, and multidisciplinary teams took a commitment experimenting them during the remaining 2 months. The experimentation phase has two objectives:
- Validating the “client fit”: “Am I willing to trade email and phone for a chatbot?”, “what helpfulness do I perceive from this app?”, “”How much time am I willing to spend on micro learning, versus regular training ?”
- Confirming the business model: “How much am I willing to pay for this service?”