I spent some time this week with a new customer on a very specific problem: a particular type of agreement which they felt insufficiently equipped to negotiate, with their otherwise excellent legal team lacking both sufficient capacity and certain niche expertise.

Another customer is in a post-acquisition phase, struggling to assess and assimilate the landslide of new and unfamiliar contractual relationships, some of which conflict directly with their pre-existing relationships.

A third customer is more than a little anxious about the state of their data privacy provisions: Are they adequate, clear, and consistent; are there any unforeseen or unquantified exposures?

In each case, the customer has a particular problem, and for each we were able to propose a solution.

However, it seemed to me the greatest value for those customers was in the wider conversation that ensued. Sometimes the problem at hand is self-contained, but frequently our customers recognise that it is but one piece of a jigsaw. Frequently they simply lack the bandwidth to tackle the whole jigsaw or feel ill-prepared to do so – or they just fear opening Pandora’s box!

As an organisation which helps customers with the full lifecycle of contracting challenges, we do love to talk about a hypothetically perfect world in which organisations are impeccably organised, with slick systems offering a single source of truth. Their workflows will ensure the right person is dealing with the right question at just the right time, escalating only when necessary, each step delivered at just the right cost. A world in which all risks are perfectly understood, every obligation is tracked and owned, and trends and insights are beautifully presented and easily acted upon.

We are, of course, delighted to help the customer who is embarking on that root-and-branch re-evaluation of their legal and procurement functions, or who wants to select and implement a CLM system, or who needs to fundamentally reorganise how they deliver services to their businesses. But equally, we’re all for the pragmatic solution – solving the specific challenge at hand. In fact, that’s non-negotiable; the customer’s primary focus must be our primary objective.

Even then, however, we pride ourselves on recognising a customer’s wider challenges and understanding that the best solutions to immediate obstacles can also contribute to the bigger picture.

For example, when abstracting and enriching the data in a hoard of contracts, if we can help construct a consistent organisational taxonomy, we should – and we do. And help or advise on what to do with all those contracts thereafter. If we can group and organise similar types of agreement effectively, we can also help to construct templates, to simplify and standardise where possible, and to understand fall-back positions in a rigorously structured form. We do that, of course, and we develop playbooks and help to develop processes and workflows that really do flow.

If we can negotiate contracts of all sorts on behalf of individual customers, as we do every day, then we can also share our insights on sector standards and collective norms.

Very little happens in true isolation. Context is important. We take pride in our ability to cover contracting requirements from end-to-end and bring all our knowledge to bear on every engagement, big or small.