Most companies know that they must implement a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system to keep track of the lifecycles of their business contracts and agreements. And those who have started the process understand how overwhelming it can quickly become.
In fact, some companies that start the CLM path give up quickly, get frustrated with the process or fear that they won’t get an adequate return on investment.
I’ve heard from corporate attorneys about two major pain points when it comes to CLM:
They try to score for a solution where the price seems reasonable. However, when evaluating different vendors, it quickly turns out to be a huge waste of time to book demos, get quotes, and compare features and costs.
Once they begin their CLM journey and look at the implementation process, it quickly becomes overwhelming. They learn that it can take one or two full-time employees to manage the process that will take six months to prepare for launch. This may not be evident with your purchase! Then, they fear that the whole thing will not be worth the effort, face a low adoption rate by stakeholders, and will eventually fail. Or, they fear that the system will have to be constantly modified and maintained, thwarting the purpose of implementing the CLM in the first place.
What is the other solution? How about a CLM system with lower costs, faster, easier implementation, less training, and the ability to launch on a small scale instead of going all the way from scratch?
The key is to find a way to make a smaller bet on CLM.
This is possible with the right system. Most companies have some form of CLM system in place – from a simple document repository to very impressive contract management tools. Most companies will have a large and powerful set of complex processes either encrypted in a CLM system or randomly generated in documents that define how their contract lifecycles are managed. The complexity of setting up a new CLM system is proportionally related to the complexity of the company’s legal processes, which generally track the volume of business.
While some innovative and highly regulated tech companies have implemented a neat internal CLM system, the same cannot be said for all companies.
Consider an overburdened internal consultant who receives too many emails and phone calls and tries to manage them with a local Excel tracking system or – even worse – a raft of sticky notes sticking to the whiteboard. This is how they manage incoming and outgoing contracts. This system is impossible to measure.
Most companies will benefit from a CLM system that – at a minimum – allows them to manage document creation and contract execution.
Instead of going through the arduous months-long process of launching a robust CLM system that requires significant training and full-time staffing to manage it, consider a CLM service provider that can quickly implement a business CLM process locally, integrate with it, and take over one part of the lifecycle. Imagine a low-cost, low-friction solution that involves sending your business sales contracts to a CLM provider and having a custom system set up within 48 hours, ready for your sales team to sign in, amend the contract and submit it to a legal team for quick turnaround. This is possible with non-disclosure agreements, licensing agreements, consulting agreements, equipment rental agreements, and purchase agreements as well.
By choosing a vendor that allows you to make a small bet first, at a low price, and with a short execution time, the company can understand and evaluate the solution in their unique situation before committing to a more robust application. In a best-case scenario, this bet is successful, and you have laid the foundation for an effective and worthwhile advisory future. In the worst case, you have learned important information that you can use to make a better decision on how to manage the lifecycle of a contract, with minimal investment of effort in the process.
Ideally, companies should look for a low-cost solution that leverages what they already have, a system that allows them to try out CLM offerings without committing to significant costs and huge implementation effort.
When it comes to implementing a CLM system, don’t be afraid to start small. Be wary of partners who want you to sign the world far. Be comfortable with people who let you try a small bite first.