Network Rail were able to increase confidence in their legal teams by working with law firms who were able to operate with a more open and transparent mindset. Read how Network Rail were able to halve the size of its external legal panel with Apperio.
Network Rail – the body charged with the safe operation of 20,000 miles of track and infrastructure including 30,000 bridges and viaducts and 20 of Britain’s largest stations – had six external law firms on its panel.
As part of a long-term plan to improve accountability, drive value and better serve its devolved regions, Network Rail wanted to pursue a strategic partnership with a smaller number of suppliers.
Network Rail knew it was spending around £15m per annum on external legal services. And unlike many less mature in-house legal teams, it already received quarterly dashboards from its firms which explained where the money was going: on what kinds of matters and in which geographic regions.
But these reports were manually prepared by the firms themselves; and therefore labour intensive, at least three months out of date, strategically of reduced value, and dependent entirely on the record-keeping in the law firms.
‘It was a deeply unsatisfactory situation for any organisation to be in. To drive value and award a framework with confidence, you need reliable data in terms of existing costs.’ says Dan Kayne, GC (Regions), Network Rail.
However, Network Rail was also an early adopter of Apperio’s system for automated legal spend management and analytics. It had invested time and effort in configuring the system to deliver an increasingly rich and granular dataset for an in-depth understanding of spend on a discipline-by-discipline and region-by-region basis. This data was reaching maturity just as the Panel Review progressed.
The data allowed Network Rail to specify its requirements with the benefit of real analysis, and then to award the framework on the right terms. “It allowed us to be transparent with the marketplace, and in turn for the tendering firms to be more granular in bidding for work”, says Kayne. “It has laid the foundation for better planning of resources, both for us internally and for our panel firms.”
Securing better value from firms was only the start of the process. ‘Firms recognise the need to work differently when their time recording is available in real-time to their clients,’ says Kayne. ‘It drives a much more open and transparent mindset, something we are working hard to achieve through our new partnership arrangements.’
Being on top of the numbers through Apperio gives Network Rail full visibility of its legal spend, and with visibility comes the opportunity to optimise. Most immediately, the in-house team can make management decisions based on understanding the relationship between resources used (internal or external), costs incurred and value received.
It also allows Network Rail’s legal department to report to key internal stakeholders with real-time information, demonstrating the financial rigour that should be at the heart of every organisation. This has increased customer confidence in the legal team assured that their work and money are being managed effectively and efficiently.
Bringing full visibility of in-house legal spend
Network Rail has halved the size of its external legal panel, obtained more competitive bids for work and identified in-house areas for savings. A key element of the programme has been Apperio’s contribution in creating full visibility of exactly where its legal spend was going, and on what matters.