Innovation in Action: ADM’s Self-Built Vendor Management App for Legal Operations

In an earlier blog post, we looked at some of the latest Apps legal operations professionals build to solve some of their most complex business problems. Now, we’re excited to continue this exploration – this time by highlighting a genuinely innovative approach to vendor management developed by Fortune 100 company ADM.

Why an App?

As a massive company, ADM not surprisingly engages with numerous vendors to accomplish many crucial aspects of its business. What they didn’t have, though, was a standardized process around selecting the right vendor for a particular matter or project. They needed a complete process from start to finish for how teams would operate and how they would engage law firms on their various matters.

ADM has built a strong law firm network and has devoted significant time to negotiating rates and pricing systems, including alternative fee arrangements in some instances. The next step was creating a means to obtain competitive bids on projects to make sure that they had the right law firms handling the right matters. That meant instituting a matter-specific RFP process – but there were a lot of cumbersome communications and past practices to sort through in order to get there. In addition, they needed a consistent and reliable way to score RFP responses.

Simply put, ADM wanted an easy way to empower its attorneys to handle RFPs, law firm selection and executing engagement letters for themselves.

The Vendor Management Solution

ADM’s legal ops team is incredibly lean, so it was critical that any vendor management solution could be managed by their attorneys. Ultimately, the answer was to build it themselves.

A crucial factor for ADM was that the entire vendor management process happen in a single place, rather than relying on cobbling together disparate tools that don’t necessarily integrate to create a seamless workflow. ADM turned to Onit’s Apptitude workflow automation platform, which allows organizations to turn ad hoc, chaotic, inefficient, everyday manual intensive work into manageable defined processes, to build the vendor management App that would meet its needs.

The App they created addressed vendor selection at the matter level, was standard across how their teams operate and combined the processes they were already using rather than reinventing the wheel.

At the end of the day, ADM’s new App addressed three problems that had been hindering efficiency: standardizing vendor approval,  automating engagement letter creation and execution, and streamlining the RFP process. They were able to combine all three aspects of the vendor management process into a single App that also leveraged vendor data and metrics. A key component of the App is always showing the attorney where they are in the process, what steps are left to complete and showing help text to walk them through the process. ADM utilized visualization of both phases and a task grid within the Onit tool.

As Aaron Van Nice, Vice President of Legal Operations at ADM, explains:

“I wanted a tool that really helped us and empowered our attorneys to conduct matter-specific Competitive RFPs themselves. There were some steps that we wanted to help them with, but the idea was to make this easy enough for them to do it themselves. We needed something that was efficient that could be managed by our attorneys. And that’s what we built.”

Today, ADM can use Onit Apptitude with their vendor management App to draft RFPs, send communications to vendors, accept questions or proposal submissions, review submissions, score proposals for each vendor and pre-approve vendors for review by Van Nice and ADM’s GC, who can ultimately approve hiring within the App. In addition to the vendor management App, ADM also built an engagement letter App that allows them to automatically generate engagement letters and send them through e-signature for execution.

In a nutshell, ADM succeeded in connecting all the dots in the vendor management process via Onit Apps.

To hear more about Onit’s new App Catalog and see a demo of ADM’s new vendor management App, you can listen to the webinar, Drive Legal Innovation One App at a Time, here. The webinar offers valuable insights about driving legal ops innovation.

To learn more about getting started with Onit Apptitude and building your own Apps to solve critical business problems, contact Onit today.

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