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Automated NDA Generator: Driving digitalization holistically together

No more lists and forms – that was the common goal of Beiersdorf Shared Services IT (BSS IT) and the legal department. The result is a self-service tool that automatically generates non-disclosure agreements. The NDA Generator reduces the workload and simplifies the day-to-day work of Beiersdorf employees – from the creation of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) to the signing of the agreement.

At Beiersdorf, digitalization is always pursued holistically. This journey encompasses both the Company Journey and the Consumer Journey. This requires a flexible and modern IT organization, but also a business that takes advantage of opportunities across all brands, levels, and functions to digitalize processes and thus help shape the future of skin care. As part of a digital transformation program, Beiersdorf aims to automate 20% of its most important business processes worldwide by 2025. 

The new NDA Generator is a recent example where BSS IT and Legal are demonstrating such teamwork.

The project team including Christian Schwarz (Legal Operations), Ivan Brkic (BSS ITO) and Dr. Philipp Hofer (Legal Affairs) in an interview about the new tool for creating non-disclosure agreements:

Christian Schwarz, Ivan Brkic and Dr. Philipp Hofer

How does the NDA Generator work and what makes it special?

Dr. Philipp Hofer: The generator works very simply: the user answers a total of nine questions and the tool creates an NDA tailored to the specific case based on the answers given, which can even be signed directly thanks to DocuSign integration. In this way, it maps all the necessary steps for an NDA in one solution and can be used independently by Beiersdorfers 24/7, i.e. without involving the legal department.

The legal departments of other DAX companies are also increasingly trying to automate standard tasks. However, something like our NDA Generator – a self-built self-service tool created for direct use by business colleagues – is rare.

Legal is not immediately on people’s minds when it comes to developing automated solutions. With this tool, we’re proving the opposite and taking a big step in digitalization.
Dr. Philipp Hofer, Senior Legal Counsel
NDA Generator

How did you come up with the idea for this tool?

Christian Schwarz: As a legal department, we have been asking ourselves for a long time how we can become more efficient, faster and more digital, and have now also institutionalized and professionalized this under the heading of “Legal Operations”. We asked ourselves what solutions are out there that simplify our work so that we can concentrate on what a machine cannot do, such as the thinking part? NDAs in particular and their creation are a repetitive process. And in my search for suitable software support, I saw a promising solution, which I then approached Philipp and Ivan with. The implementation together with BSS IT took about 6 weeks.

As a legal department, we want to be a business partner first and foremost. By providing a tool with the NDA Generator that works out of the box at any day, any time, from anywhere in the world, is user-friendly and time-saving, we enable the business to operate even better and faster.
Christian Schwarz, Head of Legal Operations

What added value do you create for Beiersdorf with the NDA Generator?

Dr. Philipp Hofer: We create an average of two NDAs per day. Before the NDA Generator, these were created manually by the legal department. This was very time-consuming – for us, but also for the business colleagues themselves, who were busy filling out questionnaires in Word and answering our follow-up questions during the NDA creation process. With the new tool, this creation process is now more efficient and helps colleagues to move faster through the entire process.

Container and Microservices are the future of tool building.
Ivan Brkic, People Lead Information Technology & Operations

How was the tool built and by whom?

Ivan Brkic: A key part of our new IT strategy involves the “cloud first” approach. Derived from the overarching strategic direction into a practical implementation, it means that we need to embrace cloud-native concepts. In the context of the NDA generator, the following are important: containerization*, microservices* and Infrastructure as Code. Theory is one thing, what is important is that there are also practical use cases for it at Beiersdorf. Together with Christian Schwarz and Philipp Hofer, we identified the NDA generator as the perfect practical application.

The underlying cloud infrastructure was provided by IT in Microsoft Azure’s so-called “Platform as a Service” area, and the application for this, i.e. the underlying logic and configuration, was carried out by Christian Schwarz and Philipp Hofer as technical experts. And last but not least, the cyber security and data protection teams were of course also involved in testing the tool.

Christian Schwarz: We were able to gain further experience on the topic of automation with this project, and for BSS IT it was the first use case for the topic of containerization. We all had to familiarize ourselves with the topic and acquire knowledge. We were only able to do that as a team.

What challenges did you encounter in the process?

Ivan Brkic: For us as the IT Operations team, it was new to deal with this technology, and two areas in particular challenged us. One was to link the individual components together in this “Platform as a Service” environment. The other is automation on the infrastructure side, because nowadays you don’t just build software, you build infrastructure code based. We had to learn how to do that based on this project. So, we opened ourselves up to a new technology and way of working and laid the groundwork for more cloud-native use cases.

With the NDA Generator, BSS ITO has opened up to a new technology and automated “end-to-end”. This container-based solution significantly pays into several pillars of the new BSS IT strategy: Practices, Technology, Talent and Strategy.
Ivan Brkic, People Lead Information Technology & Operations

What contribution does the NDA Generator make to Beiersdorf’s digitalization journey?

Ivan Brkic: One of the goals of our digital transformation is to automate 20 percent of Beiersdorf’s main business processes by 2025 – and that is exactly what we are driving forward with the NDA Generator. With the project, we have achieved a high degree of automation overall on both the business and IT sides. This is an example of how we as IT add value to the business.

I have the impression that the entire Legal Affairs area likes to be underestimated when it comes to digitalization and automation, but that’s not right. We have already built many solutions together that just don’t immediately catch the eye. For example, the highly automated Data Protection Portal or Tax Compliance Monitoring. And that’s certainly just the beginning.

Thank you for this exciting interview and the great insights!

*What containers & microservices are

In very simplified terms, containers are the decoupling of the application and the execution environment. This approach enables us, for example, to switch cloud providers quickly. Microservices are separable, independent, scalable, and loosely coupled application components. The digital services for our consumers NIVEA Skinly and NIVEA SKiN GUiDE work in a similar way. And individual application components are also decoupled from one another in services such as Netflix, Amazon, or Zalando. For example, payment, product information, the shopping cart, search, and much more can be completely independent. These services communicate with each other via interfaces. All these services then come together in the user interface. The big advantage is that the application is not a large monolith. This means that a microservice can be optimized during operation without having to shut down the entire system.

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About the editor: Laura Bieler

After studying digital communications, writing her master's thesis together with Beiersdorf, and gaining experience in journalism, marketing and corporate communications, Laura joined Beiersdorf's Corporate Digital Communications team in March 2021, where she is responsible for a wide range of communications projects related to digitalization. As befits a digital communications strategist, however, areas such as social media and digital employee communications are not neglected.