Darwin project: The evolution of Iberdrola legal services
ESPACIO DARWIN: THE NEXT STEP AFTER THE SUCCESS OF IBERDROLA'S LEGAL SERVICES PROJECT
With the Darwin Project, Iberdrola's Legal Services have placed themselves at the forefront of modernisation and digitalisation within the legal sector. A self-financed initiative that lasted 3 years and has been chosen as the "Most Innovative Project" of 2022 at the Expansión Jurídica Awards. Now, this project is transformed to become Darwin Space, a new transversal proposal that continues with the original line and offers three environments: efficiency, digital update and meeting point.
Here are the results achieved by the Darwin Project in 2020.
Darwin Project results in 2020
Iberdrola's internal legal teams have made progress in the digitalisation processes and achieved operational and economic efficiency during the first year of operation of the Darwin Project. The initiative, launched in 2019, has allowed them to research new technological solutions, reassess their procedures and generally evolve to provide more efficient and higher quality support to all of the group's businesses.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Darwin Project achieved "excellent results" in 2020, according to Iberdrola group's Director of Legal Services, Santiago Martínez. This was possible thanks to the involvement of all the Legal Services teams in the different countries where the company operates, who have worked "with determination and enthusiasm" to achieve the defined.
With the creation of a Legal Operations department and the incorporation of non-legal professionals, increased economic and operational efficiency has been achieved. In addition, budget management has been digitalised, thus achieving real-time monitoring not only of budgets - reduced by 9% despite international expansion and the significant increase in the group's activity - but also of the invoicing of external firms.
The legal services workforce is better sized. While the Iberdrola group's EBITDA grew by 2% in three years, the legal services workforce was reduced in the same period. We manage to do more with less. In addition, the percentage of women accounts for 57% of the workforce.
Taxation is one of the areas that has reaped the most rewards from process digitalisation, with technology helping to improve fiscal risk control. Iberdrola is currently working on technological data-processing systems, reporting systems, finding ways to be more efficient and new tools.
These tools include Legal Tracker, a management system already in use in Legal Services at AVANGRID* — the group subsidiary in the USA — which was installed in Spain in 2020 as a first step to implementation in all countries. As well as electronic billing and invoice processing, the application provides real time metrics and allows full supervision of legal costs. This reduces payment times and leads to operational and economic efficiency.
At Iberdrola, we are committed to digitalising the procedure for granting powers of attorney, which is why we have developed our own internal digital development tool called Compatt. This tool reduces the number of paper-based procedures. Moreover, throughout 2021 and as part of our ongoing commitment to innovation and digital transformation, ScottishPower carried out a series of projects ranging from: the deployment of iManage in the UK tax team; investment in digitalised tax compliance tools AlphaTax and AlphaVAT; and harnessing the potential of our data through visualisation and analysis tools.
These transformation projects have unlocked operational efficiency; fostered greater team collaboration using innovative new technologies; and harnessed the use of our data in new and smarter ways.
We have also launched the "Iberdrola Legal Hub", a digital platform that optimises the drafting, negotiation, and signing of contracts and other legal documents, as well as monitoring during their life cycle. In contracts already in place, it achieves a 70% reduction in drafting and negotiation times. It is a tool that improves customer service, ensuring total legal security quickly and effectively, while providing them with metrics that meet their needs.
On the other hand, the tax technology team, together with corporate taxation, developed a reporting model in Power BI that allows dynamic analysis of data, visualisation of key data, and all of this in mobility. This functionality improved two aspects in particular: improving the availability of key information for immediate decision-making and improving the associated reporting processes. Darwin became our innovation centre for the transformation of the tax function. Our tax technology department allows us to internally generate those tools that are necessary to facilitate tax compliance.
On 1 April 2021, the Litigation Division became operational to strengthen the company's legal proceedings strategy. This division has been responsible for a global agreement with external practices that has led to a cost reduction of 25 % and a budgetary reduction of 29.4 % in this area. We are also considering using jurimetrics to seek alternative solutions to litigation.
A single attorney service was established in Spain which has brought us fee savings of 5%, but especially operational efficiencies with a 90% reduction in the volume of invoices and the outsourcing of the litigation database feed.
Globalisation and collaboration
Thanks to the HighQ legal project management tool, the group's Legal Services are working on the digitalisation and automation of corporate management, powers of attorney and contracts. We have centralised International Corporate Management in a single provider, going from 24 external offices to 1 Global Office with a single interlocutor for all countries. Centralisation gives us greater agility and control, legal certainty and cost savings of up to 32%".
We have also created a secretariat pool, administrative and paralegal pool that allows for greater specialisation and significant operational efficiency.
Updating and best practices
Following the creation of the Knowledge Management area, the LEXchange digital platform was launched, a vehicle for communication between the different teams that allows them to keep each other permanently informed. It promotes an exchange of experiences and best practices, consultation of legal databases and easy access to our rules and procedures.
Other actions carried out included the launch of La Hora Iberdrola, in which Santiago Martínez speaks on current issues of the company, as well as the creation of Iberdrola Legal Day and the holding of webinars, two initiatives aimed at improving internal and external communication.
In tax matters, we have anticipated the publication of the UNE 19602 Standard on tax compliance management, designing and implementing our own system. As a result, Iberdrola became the first Spanish company to be certified by AENOR, which is renewed annually.
In addition, the Darwin Talent personal assessment programme will enable better career development for members of the Legal Services: it includes a 180° skills assessment and a 360° behavioural assessment.
The Darwin space
The Iberdrola group is positioned as a global energy leader in clean energy, sustainable development, and innovation, with increasing geographic diversification and all of its businesses in continuous growth. Legal Services, which has been effectively adapting to the evolution of the company, must now face the challenges posed by digitalisation and the growing competitiveness of the market in order to maintain the high level of excellence achieved, advancing in trust and integration with the group's businesses, thinking globally and acting locally, and taking advantage of the company's synergies and best practices.
This is why in May 2019 Iberdrola Legal Services launched the Darwin Project, (digital transformation, smart, worldwide, innovative, efficient), to keep their department aligned with the group's objectives - growth in results, operational excellence, a client-centred strategy and capital optimisation - and turn it into a leader in innovation, efficiency and digitalisation.
The Darwin Project allowed us to create a brand, a culture and a modern and innovative way of doing things. The Darwin spirit is ingrained in all of us and will allow us to continue to lead the evolution and transformation of the legal sector. In 2022, the Darwin Project will evolve to become the Darwin Space, a transversal space with three environments: efficiency, digital update and meeting point.