Why End Users Are Key to Evaluating a Contract Management Solution
By Karen Howe, Training Director at Contract Logix
Are you searching for or in the process of evaluating a contract management solution? You’re not alone and you have a multitude of choices. There are many things to consider when making this critical business decision.
- What is the main contract management business problem you face and does the solution solve it?
- Does the software offer the features you need to efficiently manage your contract lifecycle?
- Is it flexible enough to conform to your unique business processes?
- Can it change with your needs and scale as you grow?
- Will it increase the security of your contracts?
- Is it priced within your budget?
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Sure, these considerations are really important when evaluating a contract management solution. But another critical question you should be asking is what will the experience of day-to-day users be like and what are their needs?
Risks of Not Getting the End User Perspective
To be successful, you must recognize end users as key stakeholders who should be heavily involved in the process when evaluating a contract management solution. Without their input or perspective, user adoption of the new system is in jeopardy. The result: you could face a longer-than-necessary ramp-up period and longer time-to-value. Worst-case scenario, you could face a total failure to move from the implementation phase into active usage (never go “live”).
Why End Users Matter
Selection committee members or project sponsors are frequently not the ones who will be using the software on a routine basis. If you leave the process of evaluating a contract management solution to a handful of individuals from your Procurement or Finance departments, you risk missing some significant pieces of the puzzle. Even if you’ve included representatives from Legal, are you sure you know how other teams throughout your business handle contracts and what they need from the software? Only by taking into account the needs of everyday users will you be able to properly evaluate how the solution will work in your business environment.
So, here are some additional questions to consider:
- Is the software intuitive and easy to learn? When evaluating this, keep in mind the skills and abilities of the end users at your company. Are they “tech-savvy” or not?
- Are training and support services included? What kind and how much?
- Will the new software deliver significantly better results compared to the old approach such as reducing areas of contract risk, providing better business insights, and increasing efficiency? It’s human nature to want to stick to old habits and old familiar ways of doing things and fear the unknown, but people will be more likely to adapt to a new system and use it if they can clearly see how it will help them achieve their goals. Without understanding what end users do, you’ll be unable to make the case for adopting the new approach.
- Will it save time? Time is a rare and precious resource these days. Be mindful of the amount of time it may take to get the solution up and running but on the other hand, if you understand the current bottlenecks or time constraints you can evaluate how much time the new solution could save.
You can’t answer those questions and others like them without learning what the end users are doing now and understanding their pain points with the current system. Ask for feedback on how a new system would benefit them personally and how it could contribute to the success of their department or team, as well as that of the business as a whole. And be realistic about the technical capabilities of your staff. Those are keys to evaluating a contract management solution that’s right for your business and end users.
As a training professional, my perspective naturally skews toward the way end users perceive and react to new software, and it’s clear that even a terrific solution is doomed if it is never adopted by the end users. Avoid costly mistakes like purchasing software that’s too complex for them to set up, too cumbersome for them to use, and doesn’t solve their problems by asking the right questions up front. The success or failure of your contract management system is literally in their hands.