This article originally appeared on Enterprise Times.
Contract Lifecycle Management platform Concord has doubled its customer base in the last year. It now has over 180,000 customers using its CLM Platform as a Service (PaaS). The company attributes its rapid growth to existing subscribers inviting multiple users to the platform. This rapid increase in customers has also delivered a 300% YoY revenue growth.
To meet customer demand, Concord is adding more staff. It is currently recruiting for its sales, support and development teams. This has meant the company will double its office space to accommodate new hires.
Enterprise Times talked to Travis Bickham, Vice President Marketing, Concord to understand more about this announcement. Bickham started by saying: “The promise of CLM has not been realised over the last 20 years. Lots of the tools are focused on just one thing. Concord has rolled these fragmented tools into a single platform. Customers can draft, negotiate, design and manage their contracts on the platform.”
What does the Concord platform do?
Organisations can often struggle to manage a contract throughout its life. Tracking the requirements across departments is difficult. This can leave some organisations failing to bill for allowable services. Others can discover that they are overpaying by not realising that the business has an agreed deal with a partner. Businesses can also take too long to agree the terms of a contract due to the number of people who need to see and sign it off.
This is what Concord is about. Its PaaS comes with workflow and collaboration tools. The means that everyone who needs to see, comment and check the terms of a contract can be included. As a cloud-based solution, it removes the need for shipping documents from office to office. All of this leads to greater transparency and faster approval of contracts.
The Concord platform also delivers other benefits that are often missed in manual or point solutions. These include:
- Multi contract analysis
- Automated compliance
- Standard clauses and templates
- Collaboration engine for tracking of changes
- Version control
- Central repository
- Alerts for deadlines or renewals
The latter is particularly important. Many organisations fail to realise that telephony, Internet, energy supplies (gas and electric) and other services are often on fixed contracts. If they fail to renegotiate these they are then put onto emergency tariffs which increase costs. Where a business works across multiple sites, tracking this is even more complex. This can be because of the number of contracts or the fact that some are negotiated locally.
This is where the Concord PaaS can have an immediate impact by reducing costs. It also allows for easy analysis to show if all offices are paying the same or where there are discrepancies in provision.
Integration with existing systems
Tracking the terms of a contract across the IT systems of an enterprise is no simple matter. There are often issues with integration into existing solutions that have to be overcome. We asked Bickham how the Concord handled this.
Bickham replied: “We deliver out of the box (OOTB) integrations with a few specific major partners. We are a platinum partner with Salesforce. We also work with Box, Google, Dropbox and others for document repository and storage.
“There is an open API and we help customers to integrate with other companies such as SAP Ariba, Cooper, Workday, etc. They can originate a contract in those systems and then push to our platform. Once the contract is completed, it can then be pushed back into the customers own systems.”
Bickham also told us that customers are uploading all their existing contracts into the Concord platform. This allows them to do extensive analysis of contracts allowing new contracts to be compared to older contracts automatically. It means that businesses can ensure they get the best terms possible in the contract.
Digital assistants and automated contract creation
Digital assistants for sales teams is all the rage. The range from diary reminders to AI-based solutions that take on tasks such as order placement and contract creation. We asked Bickham if Concord was going to add a contract assistant, machine learning or AI.
Bickham said: “The greatest benefit of that will be to crawl and extract from large datasets. It allows a company to plumb the data that is has. We are more about automating the business flows. The goal is to free up general council to make recommendations and create templates”
One of the things that digital assistants are enabling in some systems is that contract creation. They do this by pulling from a contract library and assembling model clauses.
Bickham told us that the Concord platform enables customers to build libraries of clauses and then drop them into templates. It has a contract wizard to make this easy for them. This is not designed to be an automated system. It enables the General Counsel to trust and approve the contract.
This approach is about putting “guard rails” around what organisations agree to. It also means that clauses are not contradictory and meet the needs of a business.
Will Concord offer Blockchain and smart contracts?
Blockchain is the new ‘must have’ for every solution today. In many cases it is just for show but for contracts, it could have a benefit. So what is Concord planning?
Bickham agrees on the potential for blockchain saying: “Blockchain or distributed ledger has a lot of implications for contracts long term. Real estate, developing country property markets and disputes are examples. It is interesting at a macro level. However, 96% of companies are still doing pen and paper with some Excel.
“Let’s get them digitised first and add blockchain later through integration. We will look at a distributed ledger solution and plug it into Concord. It is not a main area of focus.”
Bickham doesn’t see smart contracts as a key issue. The greater focus is on improving the workload of the General Counsel. He believes that the Concord platform allowed: “The General Counsel to do the work of 50 General Counsels.” He also has concerns over who would create the smart contracts and points to the way that templates and contract libraries are already handled.
What does this mean
Contract lifecycle management (CLM) is used by very large organisations but not by many mid-sized or smaller companies. This is because historically they would have had to bring multiple point solutions together and then integrate them. This is where Concord is making its play as a cloud-based PaaS solution.
This approach is certainly working for Concord. It is easy to double your customers when you have a few hundred or thousand. Doubling from 90,000 to over 180,000 in a year is a substantial jump. This is not about buying customers. Concord has seen its revenue rise faster than its customer base, 300% YoY to be precise. One question here is can it continue to scale and keep all these customers happy?
It has also delivered a number of integrations and an open API. However, to date, it has no out of the box integration with the big ERP vendors other than Salesforce. Will it now add vendors such as NetSuite, Epicor and/or Ramco to its integration list? It might also want to look at co-opetitors such as Apttus and Pegasystems. They are leading to move to deploy digital assistants that create sales contracts using AI.