Rafik Bawa has headed up the Legal Commercial
Team for eBay North America since 2012. The legal
department got a new leader around the same time,
who gave Bawa one mandate: to find a better way to
manage the volume of work flowing into the team.
“The number of contracts our team was being asked
to review was growing dramatically and we simply
did not have sufficient internal resources to staff
the requests within acceptable service levels for the
business,” Bawa says. Further, the chief financial
officer had declared that headcount could not grow
at the same rate as the business. The team had turned
to temporary staff and consultants—“extremely
expensive resources”—and were still finding
themselves working late many nights. Bawa devised a
n Leverage cost-effective jurisdictions
n Adopt processes empowered by technology
n Take calculated risks.
This wasn’t eBay’s first foray into other, more cost-effective jurisdictions. The company had had a Center
of Contracts Excellence in India for a number of
years, but time zone and cultural barriers sometimes
made communication difficult and produced mixed
results for the client. “It works very well for many of
our contracts, but it wasn’t scalable for what we were
trying to do next,” says Bawa.
Leveraging existing real estate holdings in a
community known for its strong talent base, Bawa
established a new Center of Contracts Excellence in
Salt Lake City, Utah. Contract analysts there—two
at first, now five, and growing—were able to take on
a large number of vendor contracts. “They exceeded
our expectations, and helped to decrease our reliance
on outside counsel,” says Bawa, who notes that one of
the outcomes was overall costs for contract review and
processing that were lower by 50 percent.
Next, Bawa realized that he needed a good contract
management system that would permit the adoption
of processes empowered by technology.
A new CMS had been planned for quite
some time, and was finally rolled out in
2012. It greatly enhanced assignment
speed, collaboration, electronic
signature collection and contract
retention and retrieval.
“We also realized that our CMS could help us create
self-service tools,” says Bawa, who notes that contract
requestors now move through four to five screens to
input key contract data. “The business units do all the
legwork via the standard forms we created.”
Next, a contract administrator assigns the contract
to a contract analyst for processing; requestors can
check the status as it moves through the system on
the company intranet. Once negotiated and reviewed,
the contract is routed through the CMS for electronic
signatures, distributed to stakeholders and filed. Bawa
estimates that the adoption of this technology has cut
turnaround time for lower-risk contracts by half.
Lower-risk? Oh yes. As the third prong, the
Commercial Team resolved to take more risk. Why?
“We were seeing huge cost savings and excellent quality
of work, but the volume kept increasing,” says Bawa.
Using the CMS, the team identified contracts under a
specified dollar threshold for Expedited Legal Review.
“Beginning with that threshold weeded out almost
50 percent of the vendor contracts,” notes Bawa.
These contracts were sorted into categories and filters
were applied: Among other things, is the contract
customer-facing? Does it involve privacy, data
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