Societe Generale: There's Gold in Them Thar (Legal) Bills

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29 March 2023

Winner of Celent Model Bank 2023 Award for Digital Transformation


Technology transformation efforts focused on the front office tend to attract the most attention from project funders. After all, they directly affect the customer and the top line. Significant pockets of opportunity exist in the middle office, however, and Societe Generale’s ongoing efforts to transform its legal department show that operational efficiency, cost avoidance, and risk mitigation are also important sources of value; many banks are simply waiting for enterprising teams to do the hard and unglamourous work of unlocking them.

Digital Transformation can unlock value in many overlooked places in the bank

Societe Generale identified many opportunities for improvement during an audit of the legal department. Rather than addressing each concern individually, the bank realized that this was an opportunity to become the most digitally enabled legal department in the European banking sector. Over the course of a project that began five years ago, the bank has addressed the initially identified issues and frustrations and also laid the groundwork for the legal team to thrive in a digitally enabled world.

Essentials of change management endure: executive sponsorship and painstaking preparation

An enormous change management initiative affecting not just 1,000 lawyers but also their internal stakeholders, the digital transformation succeeded because the top lawyer was directly involved and because the team conducted exhaustive work to systematically gather perspectives from all stakeholders prior to commencing and continued to listen to them over the course of the project.

Start small and build on initial wins

The team realized that introducing fundamental new systems and processes was outside of its purview, so it identified major pain points, developed Minimum Viable Products, and iterated until it had demonstrable wins that, over time, built up to a successful digital transformation of an entire department.

Societe Generale deservedly wins Celent’s Model Bank 2023 award for Digital Transformation.