How GEA’s Legal Team Turns Standard Services Into Self-service Applications

Save time and provide a better service with BRYTER

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GEA is one of the world’s largest system suppliers for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. The international industrial technology group specializes in machinery and plants as well as advanced process technology, components and comprehensive services.

Stefan Wilke, Legal Counsel at GEA’s Group Legal Department, spoke to us about how they use BRYTER. The short answer is: a lot. A year after the introduction of BRYTER, they’ve launched over 20 digital applications used by employees across the globe covering corporate legal affairs, corporate housekeeping, compliance, data protection and contracts. We talk to him about what life was like before BRYTER and the three ways BRYTER improves how GEA’s legal team operates.

Life before BRYTER

GEA Group comprises around 200 actively operating affiliates. Managing legal affairs across all these entities is a huge amount of work. Yes, there are standard templates and processes in place, but ultimately each entity, geography and each individual transaction requires tailored support, often in terms of contracts and documents.

Stefan gave one example which will be all too familiar to corporate legal teams: NDAs. “Before we had BRYTER it could easily take around one week to get the first draft of an NDA to the business colleagues. It starts with a colleague in a business area about to enter into a new business relationship. He knows he needs an NDA, but he doesn’t know where to find the most recent NDA template version. He might approach someone locally. This person might refer him to a local lawyer. That lawyer might then not be immediately available, so that awaiting the response takes one or even several days. With the lawyer’s response the business colleague will receive the NDA template via a word document with lots of square brackets that need to be filled in. This colleague then tries to fill in the square brackets, but is not familiar with NDAs or what needs to be included. He might leave some information out, or include incorrect information. Therefore, to ensure quality and accuracy, again a local lawyer needs to be involved and awaiting the response could again take some further days. This example perfectly illustrates the previous process and the sometimes frustrating back and forth it entailed.” Many corporate lawyers can relate to this – and this example involves just one basic contract which does not even require advanced legal knowledge!

Three ways BRYTER helps

To support the business colleagues and to run certain legal standard processes in a more efficient and time-saving way, GEA’s legal team has built over 20 digital applications with BRYTER (so far!) including document automation (like NDAs or DPAs), various corporate housekeeping documents like proxies and board resolutions or supporting global surveys. “The challenge we have as a legal team, is that while standard documents and templates might exist for various use cases, each one needs to be individualized. This means we have multiple requests every day to amend or individualize a standard document for a specific purpose.” Here BRYTER comes into play: GEA Legal uses BRYTER to automate frequent requests e.g. by turning them into self-service solutions. In doing so, Stefan sees three key benefits resulting from the use of BRYTER.

1. Save time

Using BRYTER solutions saves time. Going back to the NDA example Stefan explained: “We built an NDA generator that gives our business colleagues the possibility to produce NDA drafts as a self-service. It is construed in a way that the prepared draft always meets GEA Legal’s quality requirements without involving a lawyer’s expert knowledge. The availability of the generator is communicated amongst all business areas. It is available 24/7 via the intranet so that the required NDA drafts can be generated around the clock. We have just measured the time spent by the business colleagues for the NDA production process: it takes them 15-20 minutes on average. Considering the pervious process with its unprecedented delays and the bottlenecks we can fairly state that the generator has streamlined the entire process and saves valuable time. In consequence we as GEA Legal and also the business colleagues are able to focus on the more complex and important business issues.”

2. Save money

In many instances, saving time means saving money, and none more so than when you’re working with external legal counsel. The GEA legal team had a particular project regarding internal data transfer agreements. ”Our internal data transfers need to be specified in an annex document to our group framework data transfer agreement. We received an estimate from an external law firm that it would take three to four hours of fee-earner time to prepare one data transfer agreement. We were a bit reluctant since we were not sure whether this should actually take so much time (and cost so much money). Here BRYTER came into play.”

We prepared a generator for the data transfer annex preparation. In the end, we worked with the law firm using our BRYTER module and the firm was able to prepare around 270 of those data transfer annexes spending 2 to 3 minutes per annex, and only a couple of hours of partner time. Using BRYTER we reduced the time external counsel spent by approximately 99%.

The GEA team sees a return on their investment in BRYTER not just in time saved internally, but money saved in external legal spend.

3. Provide a better service and increase client satisfaction

Besides saving time and money GEA Legal also sees the use of BRYTER modules as an important cornerstone for the ability to provide high-quality legal services to business colleagues in a very fast and efficient way. As Stefan explained, “our focus is to ensure our business colleagues are satisfied with our legal services.”

The legal department responds to a broad range of issues – from every part of the business.

We turn standard services into self-service offerings with a BRYTER tool. And with the help of those self-service tools, the business can get access to what they are looking for within a very short timeframe. Where it took a week before to get access to legal documents, now it’s within minutes to respond to requests. Enabling the business in such a smart and efficient way is the first step towards client satisfaction.

Launching almost one digital application every fortnight for a year is a lot. And would, using traditional software development methods, take thousands of hours and cost a small fortune. BRYTER flips this entire dynamic on its head.

“You can imagine that there is always a need to have standard legal documents individualised. We value BRYTER and the flexibility of the tool: we can use BRYTER for document automation as well as risk assessments. There’s a lot we can do with BRYTER.”

But the key reason BRYTER is so useful to us is the fact that we can build applications ourselves, as lawyers. We do not need to reach out to the IT team or spend hours internally on a lengthy procurement process to instruct an external service provider every time we want to build an application. We can just get on with it and build ourselves. Whenever we have an idea, we can immediately start turning that idea into an application. And that is what we really like about BRYTER.

One year and 20 digital applications later, GEA’s corporate legal team is not running fully digital. But those digital applications render certain services faster, smarter and more efficiently than ever, ultimately providing a better service to their internal clients.

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