Future Perfect: A Vision for What Legal Teams Can Achieve with Entity Management

Kerie Kerstetter
In the 1990s, cloud software was simply preposterous. In the 2000s, smartphones were mere toys. In the 2010s, entity automation was unrealistic. Yet each has had its moment. And the third? It's now on the cusp of changing the world.

Sure, 51% of organizations still rely primarily on spreadsheets to manage entity information. But to quote the economist and science fiction author William Gibson, 'The future is already here'it just isn't evenly distributed.' Another 40% use entity management software and they're rocketing past the early stage of adoption such as digitization and centralization to fundamentally empower their organizations to, at least partially, manage themselves.

The Peak of Entity Management Maturity

Diligent recently published a guide on how organizations mature through the stages of managing their entity data. The peak'Automation'presents opportunities that would have sounded like science fiction just a decade ago.

Among the opportunities for those who reach the Automation phase are:

  • Document assembly: Workflows that draw pieces of documents and approved boilerplate together, and run through them the requisite approvals, like a conveyor belt.
  • Optical character recognition (OCR)-powered eDiscovery: Rather than outsource discovery, teams can run filtered and boolean searches through all file types, including PDFs and images.
  • Integrated eSignature: Rather than hop between interfaces, your eSignature works within the software where you manage documents. No more uploading, signing, downloading, and re-uploading.
  • Compliance calendar with alerts: Manage risk and compliance within the same suite of tools where you manage your entity data, for all subentities. Keep an audit trail of all changes.
  • Integrations into HCM, ERP, CRM, and more: Draw current data from each department's source of truth, and trigger actions based on it.
  • Recommendations for entity rationalization: Does your tax burden seem high for organizations your size? Are your subentities' structures unnecessarily convoluted? With all the data in one place, it's possible to know.
  • Self-service information by role: Business leaders with the right authority can access information on their own, eliminating routine requests.

Organizations that effectively automate the routine do not put themselves out of a job. Quite the opposite. They become a sought-after advisor to other business units. As several chief legal officers and general counsels have reflected, they go from being the department of 'No' to being the department of 'How'? As in, how can we achieve this?

The average legal team spends 18 hours each month modifying, consolidating, correcting, and updating information in spreadsheets. When they don't, they're freer to plan and advise. Automation of this nature provides:

  • Visibility into the workings of all entities and subsidiaries
  • Confidence in compliance
  • Control over regulatory findings
  • Cross-team collaboration

That in turn gives them the power to reconcile structures and proactively pursue tax savings, and in this way, legal can be viewed as, if not revenue-generating, at least revenue saving. By understanding and managing risk, they can guide expansion into new markets in ways that require less hedging. And for all things regulatory, they become the oracle of answers to 'How can we do this?' questions.

This data and legal advice manifest as more efficient decisions at the top. It increases the operational efficiency of the entire business, and makes it more possible to lead at the speed at which the business moves today.

  • Support sustainable growth
    • Whether it's entering new jurisdictions, introducing new product lines, or assisting with acquisitions, entity management simplifies things.
  • Ensure profitability with better structure
    • Good corporate governance is a key driver of sustainable corporate growth and long-term competitive advantage.
  • Protect brand reputation with enhanced processes
    • Manage the risk of legal or regulatory sanctions that may result in material, financial, or reputational loss.

What's in Your Future?

Strategic entity management can help you get to the state where legal is helping manage your organization's largest goals. That end state is automation, where routine tasks are handled by software. But the beginning? It's quite attainable'it starts with simple digitization and centralization, and moving away from the spreadsheet and file-sharing 'cabinet' approach that's made it so difficult for so many companies to manage during the shift to remote work.

The future requires more diligence, better data, and more foresight. A legal team that's prepared to manage the basics automatically is prepared to lead'and with more change coming, the organization is going to need it.

Working with Diligent's entity management tool can help you to surface the right information to the right people at the right time in order to both complete routine business processes and inform business strategy decisions using real-time entity data. Get in touch and request a demo to see why Diligent Entities is the market leader in entity management solutions.
Related Insights
Kerie Kerstetter
Kerie Kerstetter is a former Senior Director at Diligent and the Next Gen Board Leaders. She has done extensive work into how governance and ESG technologies empower leadership to make informed, data-driven decisions while mitigating cyber risk. Kerie was one of the founding members of Boardroom Resources, the premier educational resource for board members, acquired by Diligent in 2018.