3 tactical tips to make a CLM project succeed

Posted On by Yannis Van de Velde

Contract Negotiations, Master Agreements, Redlining, Version Management, Legal Approval and Clauses. All these terms are part of the same concept, namely contract management. The management and control of contracts are still often done in a classic way. Such as using individual mailboxes, manually checking changes and sending them back to all parties involved. This gives you a jumble of feedback. All this without proper structure and, inevitably, a mix of document names (Contract_FINAL, Contract_FINAL_V2, _FINAL_V3, _FINALFINAL).

A tool that can carry out the above matters automatically, with minimum effort for the parties involved and maximum transparency in terms of reporting and version control, is a digital CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management) solution. When you are ready to implement this, it cannot be done without a plan. So here’s three helpful tips to give you insight into the implementation of a CLM solution.

The term ‘Contract Lifecycle Management’ refers to the applications used to manage contracts and agreements, from initiation to ongoing management and possibly renewal and termination. CLM solutions manage all legal documents that contain obligations that affect an organisation, as defined by market research agency, Gartner.

1. Eating the elephant
What is especially important is to understand the benefits of CLM solutions for all parties. Both customer-focused and towards your internal employees. Combining this with the knowledge and challenges of your current organisation is essential. In this way you determine where the quick wins lie: focus points that can add a lot of value without making too drastic adjustments. Choosing such focus as the first phase of a project is essential to get employees to buy in. Afterwards, you will notice that they come up with ideas themselves and priorities on which you can build further. Moving heaven and earth to make that big, expensive project succeed will take a lot more effort than tackling the challenges one by one. After all, you also eat an elephant only bite by bite…

2. Ask the right questions
How a contract is drawn up, what clauses need to be added, who has to approve it, what conditions can be negotiated; these are just some of the questions we ask our clients as consultants. We do this to have a good idea of the situation in which they find themselves and where they want to go. Workshops like this are always fascinating because not only do they give a better understanding of the processes, they also often facilitate internal conversations about the ideal way of working. The mix of these ideas and answers only becomes really interesting when you, as a company, have also questioned your clients about their contract negotiations. Insights from this then not only lead to optimising the processes, the customer experience also becomes more elegant. This will lead to better bonding with customers and partners. If they know that your company can quickly go through that Contract Lifecycle, they will be more likely to agree to work with you.

Theoretical discussions are, of course, only the beginning of the change. It’s only after the first sprints that CLM solutions become more tangible for the project members. As management consultants we therefore insist that stakeholders are involved as much as possible during these developments so that their feedback can be used, in time, for the necessary adjustments.

3. Change of mentality
It is not only a change of mentality for the organisation, the end-user must also cross the threshold called digitisation. Signing with a mouse click, downloading documents via a tool other than Outlook, storing nothing on the desktop – this is a whole new world for many. In addition, there is also a major reliability aspect to this. There has to be sufficient trust in the way of working before someone signs his or her signature. The intuitive experience we can offer signers through CLM ensures this trust.

If it is important for us, as consultants, to inform organisations about how to work digitally, it is equally important for organisations to convince their own customers and partners of the benefits of modern CLM. For them too, there are benefits such as having full documentation of all approvals that have been made until signature or having a faster model agreement to use a purchased licence and all this on a secure digital platform.