Contract Heroes

Chaos No More: How CLM Solutions Save the Day with Sol Brody

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Contract Heroes Podcast, we are thrilled to sit down with Sol Brody. Sol is the Executive Director, Legal Operations at Boeing. The Boeing Company, along with its affiliated companies, engages in the global design, development, manufacturing, sales, servicing, and support of commercial jetliners, military aircraft, satellites, missile defense systems, human space flight initiatives, as well as launch systems and services.

Episode Notes

Picture a crucial contract trapped in a digital abyss, while stakeholders scramble to review it one after another, causing delays, errors, and missed opportunities. Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) is the knight in shining armor. With automation, collaboration, and visibility, CLM transforms your procurement process into a streamlined powerhouse. Say goodbye to lost contracts and endless paperwork. Embrace CLM to unlock efficiency, compliance, and accelerated business growth. It's time to reclaim control over your contracts and triumph over the chaos.

In this episode of the Contract Heroes Podcast, we are thrilled to  sit down with Sol Brody. Sol is  the Executive Director, Legal Operations at Boeing. The Boeing Company, along with its affiliated companies, engages in the global design, development, manufacturing, sales, servicing, and support of commercial jetliners, military aircraft, satellites, missile defense systems, human space flight initiatives, as well as launch systems and services.

During our conversation with Sol, we discussed contract management challenges within a large organization and the implementation of a CLM solution at Boeing. Sol talks about his  role and emphasizes the importance of collaboration and efficiency in contract management processes. We also discuss the ownership of contracts at Boeing and the challenges faced in finding the right workflow solution. Sol  shares his experience fitting into his role and working in such a large organization. Our conversation also touches on key performance indicators (KPIs), automation, compliance reporting, and building a legal operations team. Sol  suggests identifying pain points within the organization and involving internal business partners to advocate for its necessity and help make a compelling case to the C-suite.





Episode Transcription

Transcript - Sol Brody - Contract Heroes 


Intro [00:00:05] You're listening to the Contract Heroes podcast, your one-stop shop for all things contract management. And now here are your hosts, Marc and Pepe.


Marc Doucette [00:00:14]  Thanks so much for joining us, you know, it's been a crazy couple of days here. I'm sure that you've been walking the trade for a little too much. So, thanks for sitting down with us. But first off, let me ask you this, what do you think, is this your first time coming to Clock?


Sol Brody [00:00:30] No, thank you for having me on the podcast. This is my second time I came in 2019 pre-pandemic. That was the first. This is my second.


Marc Doucette [00:00:40] Okay, So how has it changed since the first time you were here?


Sol Brody [00:00:45] Surprisingly, it hasn't changed that much at all. Not really. I mean, I think the layout is the same. I don't remember the walking being so much, but I could always use getting the steps in.


Marc Doucette [00:00:58] Before this, we were talking about kind of the legal space at Boeing and you were talking about how you don't own the contracts there, right? You're just kind of a part of the process. So I know you've only been there for a handful of months, but how is that laid out? Does a team own the contracts, or is it just an enterprise wide kind of focus where everybody owns their own contracts?


Sol Brody [00:01:24] Each of the businesses themselves own the contract relationship, whether it's on the buy or the sell side. And then there's a corporate function that's responsible for indirect supply chain and that's really where I've started having only come to Boeing in the last six months, trying to assist our attorneys with a more structured approach to the receipt, tracking, monitoring mining of the contracts coming in to them from the indirect supply chain, recognizing that we're only one element of it, meaning that there's not only attorneys, but we also have privacy professionals, global trade professionals, other parts of the law and global compliance organization that play a role. When we sat down to map it out, we not only invited those elements to the workshop, but we also invited the indirect supply chain, as well as the contracts and risk management team, which is another team that that owns the pro formas so that everyone is aligned because it's really important to understand. I was important for me that the tail wasn't wagging the dog.


Marc Doucette [00:02:31] It's interesting that, you know, you've sat down and kind of mapped that out. So did you map that out internally before you started looking at CLMs, or was that kind of the process once you  had picked a solution and you moved forward and you started mapping that out once, once you started implementing the solution?


Sol Brody [00:02:48] As far as I understand it, Boeing procured the CLM solution many years before I got there. And there's one business that has been implementing it as we sat down, mapping out what the process was for the indirect supply chain, we were looking at one potential workflow solution. But as we launched the workflow, as we invited the team that implemented the CLM solution for the commercial business, we realized that whatever we were looking at originally probably wasn't ideal because we'd have to do a two-step implementation and the team was very adamant. And I have to agree that what was the purpose of putting in place a temporary structured workflow when at the end of the day we were looking to do a much broader end-to-end solution.


Marc Doucette [00:03:40] So you guys just decided to jump in the deep end and kind of really try to implement everything all at once.


Sol Brody [00:03:46] As I said, most of it's already been well, so the commercial side has implemented it. They have not fully implemented it in a way in which the business legal attorneys are engaging in the platform yet and we're looking to leverage their meaning the IT and the commercial contracts teams experience and lessons learned as we go ahead and try and eat the whole elephant from an indirect supply chain.


Marc Doucette [00:04:14] So there was a little bit of a phased approach there, correct? You know, when I went out with other team experts and I mean, what would you say that some of the biggest challenges that you're facing, maybe not just with the implementation, just in general, that you see on a day-to-day basis? What does that kind of entail?


Sol Brody [00:04:29] Well, I think part of it is that there's a lot to do. And so it's really working with people and prioritizing the initiatives that we have with the limited resources, whether those are people or dollars. And it's making sure that there 's's strong alignment not only across the functional teams for whatever process we're looking at, but also with it because they're responsible for budgeting implementation integrations. And so there's a lot of moving pieces and it's really just learning the organization. I spent 12 years at my prior company. I knew most of the players. I could go straight to them, describe what I was trying to do, understand how the bureaucracy works. Part of it is. As learning and networking and getting that that two-way trust between my colleagues.


Pepe Toriello [00:05:21] Yeah, right. I really like how we just kick off with this chat. So and when you said that the contracts are not owned by legal right? So we've seen that actually with with with a lot of our customers and also looking at the focus that a lot of CLM vendors are doing regarding how other stakeholders inside the company, such as procurement, for example, or supply change or or even sales. Right. So which are like the main pain points that you see I mean, besides inside the legal team in the other commercial departments? And how do you think those can be solved using a CLM solution?


Sol Brody [00:06:06] Well, I think part of it, it's just a lot of white space in between. We use a lot of emails. And so just imagine an email goes into a procurement agent, it sits for a couple of days until someone gets it. It then needs to work through the process. There's no less than ten other functions that need to weigh in on whether there's some element of privacy or global trade or insurance or some other risk that we're trying to mitigate. That has to be worked many times in in serially  rather than parallel. Eventually, it will get to legal maybe or may not have questions that will go back and forth on email. Lots of white space, not a lot of transparency in the process. Version control can be challenging at times. I think there's a myriad of challenges when you have an unstructured approach and email is your process.


Marc Doucette [00:07:01] I mean, especially at such a large company, right? There 's's a lot of different departments, there's a lot of moving parts in an organization, like Boeing. And, you know, I'm just curious to hear your perspective, and I think maybe our listeners might be, too, about moving from you know, you were at a company in the space, right, And you moved over to a new corporation. So you were saying how it's been maybe not difficult, but just probably time-consuming to understand how your role plays into that corporation. So I mean, how have you incorporated yourself in trying to interact with other people and a lot of people virtual so and you're trying to meet with them. How has it been fitting into the new role and trying to to work in the new organization?


Sol Brody [00:07:44] Well, you know, I'm blessed to have a chief legal officer and a vice president who's, you know, direction to me at the beginning was take the first six months and really learn the organization, meet the people. And so I had the chance to go around the company eight major sites, talk to 350 plus attorneys, paralegals, support staff, non-legal professionals, and really start understanding what the pain points were, meeting people face to face in most instances. So I've had the opportunity to really take a step back and look at it holistically and try and understand, okay, where were some of the low-hanging fruit that we can go and try and attack quickly, but also at the same time, how do those things hang off of a larger strategy, a lot larger vision as we try and modernize and move ourselves forward?


Marc Doucette [00:08:34] And what are those low-hanging fruit?


Sol Brody [00:08:36] Well, I think some of that is just workflows that we can put in place normalization with IT in terms of budgeting. As an organization, I don't think this is too different from other large companies. The law and global compliance organization is fairly new here, where we're a Frankenstein of different organizations that were pulled and shoved together because of the needs to mitigate risk in the and the legal pressures at that time. And now taking the time to say, okay, that was the right decision to make. How do we now optimize the organization? Where do we see that it would be beneficial to have some cord up capability? Where does it make sense where there's coordination and collaboration and where should the practice areas of that are the and the subject-matter experts really just be able to engage with their clients with is minimum amount of administrative pressure upon them as possible. My job's solely to make them better. How can they be effective and efficient and, at the end of the day, go home just a little bit happier.


Marc Doucette [00:09:48] That's a good one.


Pepe Toriello [00:09:50] Right. And I think like a lot of those low-hanging fruit comes I mean, it depends on what part of the contract lifecycle process. Right. We were just talking about like there's a lot of email going on, especially on the contract request face, maybe like automatic and dynamic intake form depending on the type of contract will be like a solution in order to save time. Right. Instead of. You just write an e-mail requesting a contract and that's it. Right. And but thinking about like now post signature face, like, do you see any maybe important KPIs that legal ops needs to have like, very clear that it's going to be useful for the CLO or maybe for the VP legal or that they usually have to report to maybe finance teams. Right. Like, can you give us like some examples of some KPIs that that can be useful.


Sol Brody [00:10:47] KPI's that are useful as how close are we budget for outside counsel? And we partner very heavily with finance. They do a fabulous job. Knowing my prior company, a lot of the work had to be done by the legal operations team. It's great to have a partner in finance who's really on top of it really can predict and project. You know, working with H.R. In terms of resourcing, where do we have gaps? Where do we need to bring in headcount? Where do we have headcount pressures? How do we make sure that all our gaps from a legal and compliance perspective are carefully analyzed and the right people are put in the right places. I have not been able to implement as many KPIs as I would want, particularly around a law firm spend. I think there's a real opportunity to understand our staffing, our cases and where do we really find efficiency, not from a cost perspective, but from a value perspective. Sometimes it may be a cost play, but it's really about how quickly can we get to the right result with quality.


Pepe Toriello [00:11:55] Right. And let me change it a little bit, because we've seen a lot of well, that's the ceilings we can talk about. We can keep talking about automation, right? Like business process manager. You just like built a lot of workflows and we've seen a lot of those implementations trying to tackle manual work for compliance purposes, you know, and now that a lot of companies are very worried about getting certified, like being ESG, you know, like do you see any opportunities for maybe not just consulting firms, but for vendors that are looking to automate or to make this type of compliance reports easily for the complaint team or for that or for the legal team?


Sol Brody [00:12:44] I always think there are opportunities for automation. It's really trying to understand what how the companies work and where the data comes from. ESG is a perfect example unless you have some sort of coordinating function, it's really hard to get at all the right data necessary for reporting, and each company may report it slightly differently. So something that that's highly configurable, something that would create the dashboard that matches the commitments that the company has made to the board and to the street, I think is really important. And it's not always about automation to, I think, low-hanging fruit for example, looking at the integrated supply chain there are some steps that we can do before we even automate. So part of my vision or our discussion is how do you lower the volume coming through and raise the difficulty of the stuff coming to legal, so it's a funnel.


Pepe Toriello [00:13:37] Right?


Sol Brody [00:13:37] And so some of those are checklists, whether you're working with an H.R. Professional that says this is the decision tree you need to come down. If you get to point A and you haven't talked to compensation, for example, don't come to legal or if there's a policy out there, go read the policy. Legal doesn't own the policy. We should not be stepping into that white space to tell you what the policy is supposed to mean. That's for the policy owner to do. So it's really about how does the right work get to legal, how do we deflect work that makes sense upstream either to the policy owner or to the requester, or that we can put into some sort of knowledge bank that people can go to and get a quick answer to. But to be careful that we're not replacing good legal advice with some sort of wiki because that's not going to work.


Pepe Toriello [00:14:26] So one last question. So we've been talking a lot with few in-house well a lot of in-house departments that they still, let's call it, operate in a traditional way. They don't have like a legal operation team inside their organization and a lot of general counsel are trying to make like a business case or so they can present to maybe the CFO or the CEO right on how having the legal operations team can help the company. What would you recommend to those general counsels that are like trying to build their own legal operations team and how we will make sense for somebody inside the financial team, for example?


Sol Brody [00:15:13] Well, I think you have to step back and look at what the work is that your attorneys are doing. Look for pain points that your client, your internal business partners might have their internal business partners can you be your biggest advocates in supporting the general counsel, particularly if they say, you know, I keep on submitting the contracts and it takes forever to get them that it's gets routed the wrong way, or finance is saying, I'm not hitting my my budget. Right. These are aspects of work that you really don't want an attorney to be doing, in my opinion, unless their attorney that that wants to go into business operations as business operations takes a different form you want your attorneys to be thinking about legal matters and applying, you know, they're highly paid people to do really complex work. And so you have to ask a CEO who says, well, yeah, that it makes sense to have an attorney do that. I don't think there are many CEOs out there that will do that. And then there's also benchmarking data. Gartner has information, A.C.C. Clock. There's lots of other people in the industry to go talk to and find ways to sell the message to the C-suite.


Marc Doucette [00:16:24] Yeah. And I think that's what we're seeing, right, is, you know, whatever you're implementing, any legal tech, it shouldn't be just for legal, it should be for everybody. And you need to get those other departments involved. See, you have to have their buy in. You know, your project's probably not going to work out if you implement something just for your department and then try to bring in those business processes later. So it's definitely what we talk about all the time. So I appreciate the conversation. This has been awesome.


Sol Brody [00:16:51] Well, thank you very much for the invitation. 


Marc Doucette [00:16:54] All right. Thanks everybody for listening to another episode of Contract Heroes.


Outro [00:16:57] This episode of the Contract Heroes is sponsored by Kojo Consulting. Kojo helps organizations of all shapes and sizes find, implement and manage their chosen CLM tool. Whether your project is buy or sell side led, Kojo can help you navigate the waters of the CLM space to make sure that you're getting a product that's going to fit like a glove year to come. If you'd like to learn more about Kojo, visit their website at Kojo Consulting dot com.