About the author

Bernadette Bulacan

Legal Evangelist, Icertis

Living the Mission: How One Legal Ops Team Is Helping the Global Fight Against Cancer

By Bernadette Bulacan

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with Eric Ortman, the senior director of legal operations at BeiGene.  

If you’re not familiar with BeiGene, their work is pretty inspiring: in pursuit of the next generation of cancer treatments, they are taking a truly global approach to their research. They have trials running across five continents, with major operations in Australia, China, and the U.S. Their company motto says it all: “Cancer has no borders. Neither do we.” 

This cross-border work doesn’t begin and end with research. BeiGene’s legal department is constantly looking for ways it, too, can work seamlessly across borders so they can support the company’s mission—an effort that Eric and the legal ops team must support through better systems and processes. 

In my conversation with Eric at the 2021 CLOC Global Summit entitled “Contracting without Borders”, Eric noted, for example, the compliance requirements around contracting that the legal department must comply with across the many jurisdictions BeiGene operates in. 

“There are some ways of doing business and also legal issues that vary between the U.S., China, Australia, Europe, and so we needed to make sure that certain contract workflows were designed to support business processes in each jurisdiction,” Eric said. 

Leveraging CLOC Competencies to Work Globally 

Historically, a company may approach this challenge by setting up small legal teams in each country that operate independently, with little effort put toward comparing performance or best practices across geographies. 

However, by leveraging one core CLOC competency—Technology—Eric and his team have been able to leverage another—Business Intelligence

CLOC notes that Business Intelligence allows Legal Ops to “Uncover hidden trends, find new efficiencies, and focus your team on clear and measurable outcomes that make a difference to the business.”  

Contracts define what a company buys, what it sells, and how it runs. When managed correctly, contract data can provide high-value insights to the business—call it “contract intelligence.” These insights range from the fairly straightforward (e.g., how long does it take for a contract to get approved) to the highly complex (e.g., which clauses are associated with better business outcomes post-execution).  

From a compliance standpoint, Eric noted the importance of being able to pool data in order to quickly report out on what contracts fall under various regulations due to their component parts. 

“When we have someone from a regulatory agency, say the FDA comes in, and they want to see a list of the contracts that are related to a specific study, you’ve to be able to quickly run that report, and prepare that, and share that list,” Eric says. 

Given the global nature of BeiGene’s operations and the local considerations of its contracts, creating a single source of truth for this business intelligence required legal ops to take a different approach to managing its agreements. 

This is where leveraging the CLOC Core Competency, Technology, came into play. 

How Contract Management Software Helped BeiGene Realize Its Vision  

CLOC recommends legal ops departments use technology to “automate manual processes, digitize physical tasks, and improve speed and quality through the strategic deployment of technology solutions.” 

Eric shared with me that, when he arrived at BeiGene, the fast-growing company did not have a contract lifecycle management (CLM) system in place. Eric immediately identified CLM as a critical asset for BeiGene to unify its global contracting operations due to its ability to harmonize processes across geographies and create a system of intelligence for all of a company’s entitlements and commitments.  

Advanced CLM pushes beyond contract management and ensures that all agreements are in compliance and commitments are upheld, that changing conditions dynamically trigger the appropriate actions, that high-value insights are available in real time, and that new information makes the whole system increasingly smarter and faster. 

Deploying Technology Solutions to Last 

Importantly, one piece of guidance CLOC provides on technology is to “create and implement a long-term technology roadmap.” 

Too often, companies embarking on a CLM journey choose a rudimentary solution that can be stood up fast, avoiding a comprehensive solution they perceive will take years to implement. 

BeiGene’s story demonstrates why this is a short-sighted choice. When it set out to choose a contract management platform, it did not just look at what it needed in the immediate term but took the time to scope out what it ultimately wanted from the solution in the years to come. It crafted this ambitious plan by bringing together a diverse set of stakeholders: What did the clinical trials team need from a CLM? What about compliance? What about the marketing team that engaged doctors to speak on behalf of their therapies? 

“There is nothing more important for us than making sure those clinical trial agreements are operating smoothly. And so I brought in people from the clin-ops team who are working on those clinical trial agreements to work very closely with us on the design to help us to develop the requirements,” Eric said. A recent study conducted by Forrester Research validated the benefits of this approach, finding “that firms who involve coalitions of C-suite stakeholders in CLM decision-making and have more fully integrated solutions are better prepared and more confident in managing rapid change.” 

Notwithstanding this benefit, managing a large coalition of stakeholders can sound daunting and unwieldy, raising the specter of project scope spinning out of control. Yet Eric and the legal ops team were systematic in their approach, knowing that while a solution should be able to address needs across multiple functions, deployment of solutions would be incremental, with firm priorities and milestones. They broke the deployment into stage gates that have enabled them to iterate and create champions as they expand to more departments and agreement types—with learning and feedback occurring throughout. 

Of course, there is always more work to be done. Eric notes that as BeiGene’s adoption matures, he looks forward to trading best practices with other like-minded LDOs within pharma and life sciences. This type of networking will only improve CLM processes and practices for the industry. 

Today, thanks to the efforts of legal ops, BeiGene has a global approach to contracts that matches its global fight against cancer. 

About Icertis: With unmatched technology and category-defining innovation, Icertis pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with contract lifecycle management (CLM). The AI-powered, analyst-validated Icertis Contract Intelligence (ICI) platform turns contracts from static documents into strategic advantage by structuring and connecting the critical contract information that defines how an organization runs. Today, the world’s most iconic brands and disruptive innovators trust Icertis to govern the rights and commitments in their 7.5 million+ contracts worth more than $1 trillion, in 40+ languages and 90+ countries. Find out more at https://www.icertis.com