6 Steps for Implementing Digital Contract Management

How can a contract management platform implementation be seamless?

At the enterprise level, contracts are one of the last bastions of legacy holdout. The opportunity for turning this historical cost-center into an area of strategic leadership is increasingly imperative for C-level leadership. Workflow efficiency has become a central topic in the modern business world and contract management is a vital part of this conversation. Managing contracts online can significantly help workflow organization and increase productivity.

Without a platform for contracts, workflow slows down, security is lax, risk management within the contract is little or nonexistent, and it’s hard to gain any visibility into past contracts, or even active ones that are being simultaneously worked on elsewhere.

A contract lifecycle management platform (CLM) can alleviate this pain as well as drive faster time to revenue. A CLM allows for streamlined workflows, more data security, improved risk management, and increased visibility. Searchability decreases time spent looking for documents or proper wording, and access controls increase privacy and security both inside and outside the company. Compliance is easier through the use of templates and comprehensive records of all edits and conversations.

To realize this vision, here are some steps to making this digital future a reality.

1. Analyze Your Current Contract Management Process.

First, it’s important to understand the difficulties and benefits of the current process. What works and what are the major pain points? Who is involved, and what is the standard process? Are there company guidelines for language, storage, and usage? What is the current rate of contracts that get signatures versus those that go unfulfilled? What does storage and retrieval look like once a contract is complete? Answering these questions shows where there is room to grow in the process, and what a contract management platform should deliver. It’s important to focus this analyzation not just on one department, but throughout the whole company, especially among the departments that heavily rely on the use of contracts. Each individual should be able to determine what their weaknesses and strengths are before implementation begins.

2. Identify a Power User Department.

Carefully monitoring KPIs in one department of power users–likely Legal, Sales, or Procurement–leads to defined success metrics and ROI. An organization-wide rollout is key to get the full benefit of the platform, but focusing on the behavior of power users will allow for quickly scaling up gains in efficiency. A team of C-level sponsors, key stakeholders, and internal experts can take note of these power users to weigh in on the needs of each department as they roll out the platform. These power users as well as the expert team can also serve as advocates for the platform to ensure full adoption throughout the organization.

3. Implement the CLM Platform Universally.

Alongside the power user department, the platform should be implemented throughout the entire company. All relevant employees should be trained on how to use the software and what best practices are. A customer success manager should be able to perform personalized demos for the team and answer all questions throughout the implementation. Throughout this training, stakeholders should observe compliance and any other issues that may arise, and adjust implementation accordingly.

4. Increase Awareness and Compliance.

As implementation continues and teams are in training, an important part of adoption is ensuring that each employee understands why the platform is being implemented, the overall goals, how to best use it, and what the protocol is. For employees to be fully compliant with company contracting and procurement protocol, they need to have a comprehensive understanding of what company standards are. These guidelines help avoid ambiguity and the risk of noncompliance. By using standard language, clauses, and procurement practices, the company is at less of a risk. A CLM platform should provide a repository for Legal-approved templates and teams should have certain permissions based on their teams or roles. Maintaining compliance will streamline processes and result in faster contracts, and as a result, a higher ROI.

5. Measure the Impact of the Digital Process.

Going digital will drastically increase your efficiency and access to information, but it’s important to track metrics on this throughout implementation. Has the ability to capture, store, monitor, and access information increased in speed and results? A CLM platform should streamline processes, not make them more difficult. While there may be an initial learning curve, a good platform should have teams working smarter and faster in a matter of weeks or months, not years. In addition to speed, aspects such as compliance, contract language, collaboration, and the number of contracts procured should improve as you continue to use the platform.

6. Evolve and Adapt the Digital Process.

A contract management process should be one that grows with an organization, not one that limits growth. Implementing a CLM platform only to find that it’s outdated and unusable for your needs in a few years is frustrating and pointless. Tools should be evolving alongside a company to advance it into the future. Part of implementation is noting what works and doesn’t, and how a team adapts and works with the platform. Recording these adjustments provides visibility into the team and which methods work.

Following these steps will not only help implementation go smoother, but will also increase the overall benefits of a CLM platform, driving growth, revenue, and visibility throughout an entire organization.