3 Keys to Preparing for Contract Management Software: Data, Process, and Drivers
By Justin Perkins, Solutions Engineer at Contract Logix
Anyone managing contracts using manual and traditional methods know they’d be better off with a proper contract management software solution. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations aren’t sure how to prepare for what they believe to be a disruptive change which ends up creating a roadblock to its adoption. The reality, however, is that implementing an effective contract management software solution can be quite painless provided you think through a few key things in advance.
Based on my experience with hundreds of customers, I’ve found that the most important things to think through when preparing for a successful and easy transition to contract lifecycle management software are:
- Data: How are you managing your contract data today? Where and how is this information stored?
- Process: Beyond the data, what guidelines and processes in your business are you trying to help streamline? Who’s involved and what are your top contract management use cases?
- Drivers: Finally, what are you looking to improve? What problems do you need to solve and how will you measure improvements?
Answering these questions will help prepare you and your organization for successful contract lifecycle management software adoption. Let’s look a little closer at each one.
Data… Data… DATA…
The fear of data I often hear from any organization looking to make a major shift to its current contract management solution comes down to what to do with all the contract-related information they have today. From structured to unstructured data, it’s a process of moving and preparing for such a change. I like to recommend a few different approaches depending on your end goals as a business.
- Go Forward Approach – The benefit of Contract Logix’s intelligent contract management platform is that you don’t need to migrate all of your data day one to begin leveraging our solution. As new contracts get executed, renew, or are updated, you can add these records into the system on a case by case basis. This lets you get up and running fast and start improving your process.
- Migration of Key Data Approach – I know the information you have today could be important for your go-live solution. That’s why we’ve developed an easy-to-use import template which allows you to bring in as much or as little of your existing data as you want. In many cases, businesses are tracking contracts through simple spreadsheets so a lot of the key details required can be easily organized for an import into our contract management software.
- Hybrid Model – Why not consider going for the best of both worlds? Start leveraging the system while you migrate your old information into it. This way you are not waiting to sort and organize your old data, especially if you aren’t already tracking it via spreadsheets. This means you don’t have to figure out how to track your new contracts as they come in, and you can start to leverage the true benefits of CLM while migrating your existing data over time.
As you think about which data migration approach makes the most sense, the next question is inevitably what data should you focus on? This isn’t the easiest question to answer without talking through a potential client’s use case.
Every business looks at contracts differently. However, you quickly find common themes in contract management which is why we provide a set of out of the box fields to get you going in the right direction. This includes key details for any business or contact you deal with such as address, phone number, or email information. For contract records, it includes fields for data focused on items such as what internal & external parties are involved, stage/status of agreements, key dates, departments, and dollar values.
More importantly, however, is the ability to easily create new data fields in our system to track information that is important and specific to you and your organization. This allows you to easily expand the database and bring in as much or as little of this information without stopping you from getting value from our CLM software. That’s why the platform is easily configurable to your needs and use cases.
The process of migrating your information shouldn’t be difficult. In my book, the Hybrid model allows you to figure out what information is important, start effectively managing your contracts, and allows you to migrate key information over time.
Business Process Goals
A problem many companies face when adopting new software is they try to bite off more than they can chew in a reasonable timeframe. They go in with a vision of achieving the end game on day one when they really should be thinking about a maturity model approach. You can’t start automating your contract management if you haven’t even built the core foundation and understanding of your processes behind it. That’s why it’s important to start with your business process goals and identify an achievable calendar of the steps needed to achieve them using the software.
Here are some things to think about.
- What does your process look like today? What headaches are you aware of in each step? Which steps take the longest or fall through the cracks?
- Who needs to be notified during key events? A key event might be an important date alert (expiration/renewal/termination), risk review, annual price increase, or a more specific approval/review process.
- Do you want to manage an approval process? If so, who’s involved and what’s their role in it? Is it because of risk factors identified, dollar amounts over certain limits, the use of various clauses, or something else?
These are just a few key questions to help understand and map your core business process needs. As you discuss your goals with our qualified Solutions Engineers or your assigned Customer Success Managers, you will begin to get a clearer picture of best practices and use cases. This not only helps you understand your wants, needs, and goals, but it helps us coach you through each step in your contract management maturity process.
Business drivers can vary greatly from one company to another. What’s driving you to make this change? Sadly, many businesses start looking for a solution after something bad has already happened with their contract management process. Worse, some companies might not even realize they are missing out on opportunities because of the lack of accurate tracking, reporting, and management of contracts.
Here are a few examples of some common motivators I hear from prospects.
- You missed a contract obligation. Perhaps an agreement your company had no interest in continuing auto renewed. Suddenly, you are locked into another term you had no idea was coming due. This recently happened to a prospect I was working with and the 3-year term cost them more than our CLM solution.
- You might already have a contract management solution today, but it isn’t meeting your company’s goals. It happens a lot as companies mature and move beyond simple SharePoint repositories, Excel spreadsheets, and/or keyword tagging of documents for data management.
- You need to get more visibility into the stage, status, and ownership of each agreement in your process You need to understand what contract types or people are taking the longest through your process so that you can streamline your operations with some KPIs.
- Your Sales and Procurement teams need to remove bottlenecks and get contracts executed faster. Contract management software helps close deals and make purchases faster than traditional time-consuming methods using email negotiation and approval, wet signatures, etc.
Contract management software provides significant value to any organization that wants to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its contract process. As you begin to evaluate and ultimately adopt a solution, part of your success will be based on answering key questions around your data, process, and business drivers.
At Contract Logix, it’s our goal to ensure your contract management success. We encourage you to engage with us on these topics regardless of where you are in your thought process. Let’s start a conversation today.