Brightflag Case Study: Ocado
After almost a decade working within the legal department at the Ocado Group, and most latterly as Co-Head of the Commercial Legal Team, both Amy Brookbanks and her employer were on the verge of a pivotal transition. As the online grocery innovator began rapidly expanding its international footprint, Amy stepped forward to become the company’s first- ever Head of Legal Operations.
Global growth was inevitably going to increase the Ocado Group’s reliance on outside counsel partners. Neill Abrams, the General Counsel, saw that. What was far less certain, however, was whether the in-house legal team could manage the rising costs and case load. In keeping with the company’s embrace of cutting-edge technology, Amy moved quickly to research and implement a dedicated legal spend management platform.
Since implementing Brightflag in December 2019, the Ocado Group has achieved 150% of its cost control goal, eliminated 1,470 hours worth of legal admin time, and is well on its way to shifting the department’s dynamic from paying for time to paying for value.
A Systematic Approach to Achieving Success
Implementing a technology is just the first step. Amy knew that in order to drive long-term success and internal alignment, she needed to hold the team accountable to measurable goals. Working closely with her dedicated Brightflag’s Customer Success Manager, Amy set ambitious targets and devised realistic strategies for their achievement.
The goals and targets addressed three key areas: Better cost control, improved productivity, and full visibility on law firm performance.
Better Cost Control
Before the Ocado Group implemented Brightflag, the legal department’s invoice review process was manual, time-consuming and error-prone. This led to poor cost control. Given this dynamic, the investment in Brightflag would need to be justified by clear cost savings.
Within the first year, Ocado was able to make savings of 5%, against a target of 3.3%. This is done through consistently applying billing guidelines, confirming negotiated discounts, and flagging violations using Brightflag’s AI- powered invoice review function.
In addition to cost savings, Amy’s also knew one of the first priorities had to be safeguarding the department’s scarcest resource: Time.
The legal and finance departments saved significant administrative time by adopting a fully automated invoice submission, review, and approval process that includes a seamless integration with Ocado’s Oracle AP system.
For instance, now that Brightflag automatically checks tax rates and currencies on each invoice, the team has complete confidence that invoices routed to Finance are already tax and currency compliant. Ocado has launched the tax engine feature for its UK invoices, and will shortly be moving its international invoices onto this system. Coupled with the time saved from the invoice review process, the total productivity gains equated to savings of more than 1,470 hours of administrative time over the year.
Full Visibility on Law Firm Performance
For the Ocado Group, the goal in the long term is to make better sourcing decisions through understanding law firm performances at a granular level.
By using data to comprehensively understand billing and behavior, the Ocado Group can make long-lasting decisions that strategically enhances the delivery of legal services.
Amy has already begun using Brightflag’s reporting functions to compare performance across firms. This has enabled the legal team to benchmark, track trends and savings to make strategic decisions, and introduce measures such as AFAs and volume trade discounts.