A few months ago, Carrefour launched “NEXT”, the company´s Legal department’s transformation project. Among others, NEXT encompasses several key focus areas, including innovation for in-house counsel, improvement of the client experience, the application of legal-tech tools, driving business transformation and streamlining legal operations management. There are also goals such as simplifying corporate governance, promoting equality and sustainability, and measuring progress with key performance indicators. Legal Dealmaker talked with Juan Riego Vila, general counsel & secretary of the Board of Carrefour Spain, about this transformation project that is being successfully implemented in the company´s Legal department.
Legal Dealmaker: Why does the need arise to implement the NEXT project? What platform/s or solutions will be used to implement it? How many employees will be affected by this implementation within the legal department?
Juan Riego: Despite its recent launch, the origin of NEXT dates back to 2018, or even earlier, when our Legal department, as a result of the huge volume of work and the immediate response required by the business, and taking advantage of the incipient transformation of the legal services market, identified the need to seek technological solutions that would maximise internal efficiency and improve the experience of these areas in the use of legal services. These ambitious objectives have been achieved through the implementation of solutions such as iManage or Docxpresso, as well as thanks to a constant process of self-analysis and improvement.
In this way, NEXT not only reaches all the lawyers in the Legal department but also allows us to extend its reach to all company areas that use our legal services.
“Legal departments no longer focus solely on KPIs consisting of an analysis of the number of contracts per year or budget savings, but on other aspects such as their ability to exploit data, reducing administrative tasks and minimizing internal processes.”
LD: Can you tell us some of the KPIs and what period they will take as representative of the measurement?
JR: A key area of NEXT is the self-evaluation of services to align with Carrefour 2026 goals. It has always been necessary for lawyers to measure their performance to ensure their own evolution, as well as to highlight the contribution of the internal Legal department to the fulfillment of the company’s objectives. The big change is where we focus. Legal departments no longer focus solely on KPIs consisting of an analysis of the number of contracts per year or budget savings, but on other aspects such as their ability to exploit data, reducing administrative tasks and minimizing internal processes. Our goal is being able to analyse our services in a short period of time and implementing action plans that accompany us throughout 2023. With this in mind, we are in the process of redefining new indicators that fit this new strategy.
LD: What tools (AI, automation etc.) will you use and to what extent will they improve the lives of in-house lawyers, customers, and business partners?
JR: NEXT seeks to innovate and explore new ways of providing more agile, simple and digital legal services through the use of legal-tech tools. Some of the tools we have already implemented or are in the process of implementing are:
(i) The automation of documents through Docxpresso helps us reduce response times and increase efficiency, and as we expressed in our launch video, we have been able to produce more than 700,000 automated documents for the use of the company’s areas, reducing the average generation and signing time of contracts.
(ii) Collaboration tools such as Google Drive or Workchat to improve communication and collaboration between the Legal department and internal customers and business partners. For example, a document management system such as iManage has allowed us to have almost 900,000 digitised documents with instant access, and with its share function, it allows internal lawyers and customers to access them in real time.
(iii) And to mention one in progress, with the arrival of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we are testing their use in tools such as Docxpresso to automate repetitive tasks, improve efficiency, and reduce human errors. For example, these AIs could be used to analyse documents and extract relevant information, allowing in-house lawyers to spend more time on critical tasks.
In summary, the use of these legal technology tools improves the efficiency of legal advice and the experience of internal clients and business partners by providing more accessible and transparent information. Now the goal is to make more and more users and areas aware of our technological capabilities.
“Promoting equality and sustainability is part of the goals of the NEXT project. This includes initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Legal counselling, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and adopt ethical and sustainable practices in the management of legal operations.”
LD: Does this action belong to the company’s Sustainability Plan? What does it imply in terms of investment?
JR: Promoting equality and sustainability is part of the goals of the NEXT project. This includes initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Legal counselling, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and adopt ethical and sustainable practices in the management of legal operations.
As for investment, we expect to make a significant investment to implement the necessary tools and solutions to achieve the project goals. This includes the acquisition of new technologies such as AIs, electronic signature tools, the hiring of additional staff, and training existing employees. However, this investment is also expected to generate long-term savings through improved efficiency and cost reduction.
In addition, as NEXT is part of the Carrefour 2026 project, it falls within the company’s objective of making its e-commerce activities carbon-neutral by 2030, 10 years ahead of the group’s general objective for 2040, with a 17% increase in its annual investment. This means that the impact of the entire purchase action, from clicking to delivery, will be neutral in terms of CO2 emissions. Our goal as in-house lawyers is to help Carrefour achieve its goals, and we hope that with NEXT, we are prepared to face the challenge of Carrefour 2026.
NEXT is also supported by other areas of the company, being able to know and take advantage of opportunities offered by the development and specialization of other departments (IT, Data, Communication) as a means of enriching our own change process.
It is also important to highlight that the NEXT project is a continuous improvement and adaptation process, so it is essential to measure progress and make necessary adjustments to achieve the established goals. It is important to continue updating and monitoring key performance indicators to evaluate if the goals are being met and make adjustments accordingly.
In summary, the NEXT project is an ambitious initiative that seeks to improve the efficiency and agility of Legal counselling, contributing to the achievement of the company’s goals.