5 Contract Lifecycle Management Software Buying Tips
Legal departments nowadays need to get into the 21st century, before time simply passes them by. They must start thinking deeply about legal digital transformation. They need to begin streamlining their own contracting process, getting rid of things like physical legal documents – and manual contract review – altogether. And having experienced the adoption and implementation of a contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution, I have a few contract lifecycle management software pricing and buying tips for other GCs and legal teams.
As a general counsel (GC), I know the benefits of having a reliable contract management system (CMS), in particular. Simply put, such a CMS facilitates industry-leading contract management processes and supports continued expansion plans. It allows for electronic signatures, improves risk management, and provides an opportunity to use cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI).
IT’S A COMPANY-WIDE AFFAIR
If you are a growing company looking to digitally transform, you need to get your ducks lined up. That is true no matter what advanced technology is adopted and implemented. And it is certainly true if a contract management solution is deployed to support in-house legal counsel services.
Because contract lifecycle management software pricing and overall buying a CLM is a major purchase, it requires buy-in from the broader company. Yes, you need to do your due diligence, conduct market analysis, get the vendor snapshots, and figure out which CLM suits your organization’s needs. And you cannot do any of this in isolation.
For starters, have a discussion at the senior leadership team (SLT) level. From there, involve various stakeholders throughout the organization. These teams need to be a part of the contracting process in one way or another. So, ensure that they feel empowered and contribute throughout the buying cycle. Following this, you can better work out your requirements list.
Make a decision to manage contracts early for a growing company
But it is not just about getting buy-in from all of the stakeholders. The latter will use the system, themselves, eventually. As such, it is important that they are comfortable with the company’s choice ultimately. Otherwise, there will be no end to their grumbling and complaints!
DUE DILIGENCE IN CONTRACT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE PRICING
After putting together a request for proposal (RFP), start interviewing the technology vendors. Look at the total costs and capabilities of their particular systems. Get your multi-disciplinary team of sponsors to provide feedback. Then, set up a scoring matrix to help assess the vendors.
In the end, you may interview 10 to 15 vendors at length. And what you may find is that most options do not meet your full system requirements. But the steering committee will single out a few vendors for detailed reviews or demonstrations.
Remember, though, it is not about finding the cheapest system available from a pricing standpoint. The investment spend matters, of course, but a system that is both cost-effective and scalable is more beneficial.
UI IN CONTRACT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Also, make certain that you are comfortable with the system on the whole. As stated above, it is not just legal team members who will use it. The sales team will want to submit contract requests. And the procurement, IT, and HR departments may need to access the system at some point.
Accordingly, do not underestimate the importance of a good user interface (UI). With it, your regular users will get to learn the system – and all of its quirks – rather quickly. The rest of the company may require access only occasionally, but they need to learn the system just as swiftly.
The bottom line is people have to want to use the system or, at the very least, be comfortable enough with it. So, lookout for a reliable UI that team members find intuitively easy to use.
AI ISN’T GOING TO TAKE YOUR JOB!
We have all seen the Terminator movies. We have all read the headlines about AI is going to replace us in our jobs. Frankly, I am not worried about that. In fact, AI will take away some of the mundane legal work, allowing lawyers to focus on more creative and strategic work.
AI in contract management software simply gives us that ‘first pass’ snapshot of our contracts. It is difficult – if not impossible – to remember all of the details or highlights of so many agreements. However, AI can do this heavy lifting and ease the workload of legal departments. It is a great spot-checker. It provides a quick, first-pass risk check, which means no more manual cut-and-paste summation jobs!
Best of all, having an AI-based CLM system places GCs and legal teams on the cutting edge of technology. And over time, the system will only get better, helping you to keep up with the increasing pace of your organization.
REALLY CHECK REFERENCES
Another important contract lifecycle management software pricing tip is to check references. Really check references!
When I asked vendors if I could speak with their references, I was met with a surprise. One technology vendor provided a reference list straightway while most others took up to a month to get back to us. That gave me the impression that customers were not happy with their systems or they required a fair amount of coaching. Either way, this reflected poorly on the delayers.
When you have the opportunity to speak with the references, try to gauge their overall feelings toward their CLM solution.
AI in contract management systems helps with the ‘first pass’ snapshot of contracts.
Do customers truly feel that their system is outstanding or merely adequate? What did they think about the implementation cycle? After all, implementations are not resoundingly-fun experiences. But you can find out which ones were the most accommodating and least painful.
While interviewing the references, also ask detailed questions about their technology vendor. How satisfied are they with their choice? Would they choose their CLM vendor again given what they now know?
CONTRACT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE PRICING
Finally, be sure to do some off-roading! Reach out to connections within the company or others who use the solution but are not recommended by the vendor. These ‘offline’ references, quite often, are more revealing than ‘official’ ones. These contacts will usually give you the straight goods on whether a CLM system is worth it or not.
If you need help deciding on a contract management solution for your legal team, check out ContractPodAi’s Primer. You will find out everything that you need to know about contract lifecycle management software and pricing.
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