Adding Tools for Contract Management: A Before-You-Buy Checklist
How to evaluate contract management solutions when expanding your legal tech suite.
Did you know legal professionals only spend an average of 2.3 hours per day on billable tasks? The rest is dedicated to administrative responsibilities like gathering data, organizing forms, and finding documents that have been lost in a sea of back-and-forth emails. Meanwhile, limited visibility into contract status, progress, or related matters can create process roadblocks and expose organizations to risk.
One way legal teams can reduce time-consuming, repetitive tasks and accelerate business decisions is by integrating contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions into their tech suites. When considering adding tools for contract management, collaboration is considered the most important evaluation criterion. But just as there are many aspects to your contract management platform which will cut across different departments and teams, there are different kinds of collaboration to be on the lookout for. Here are five things to look for in your contract management solution:
Will it integrate with your current matter management platform?
A contract may not start inside your CLM tool, and it certainly won’t end there. It will end when— among other things— the contract is attached to your matter management system. The best CLM will unify oversight within a single hub for monitoring all agreements, from creation through review and approval. Centralizing the contract lifecycle into one system accelerates time to agreement and drives efficiencies. These efficiencies are optimized when they are nested within and communicate with the matter management system, making it easy to pull up contracts associated with a matter to reference. Without this integration, you’ll be duplicating your contracts, which leads to inconsistency and errors.
How modern is the user interface?
Successful contract management tools are available cross-functionally, not just for your Legal Department. There will come a time when Sales, HR, and even Marketing will need to collaborate on a contract. This means that your contract management solution does not just need to be straightforward for the legal team members who are in them day in and day out, but also easy enough for an outsider or novice to get the hang of without extensive training. An outdated UI is not an option anymore. A clean, easy-to-use interface is not just aesthetically pleasing, but a crucial criterion by which you should evaluate your options. Your CLM should make it easy and intuitive to:
- Share contract changes in real-time across different geographic locations
- Bring in the appropriate users at the right time in the contract lifecycle and give them centralized visibility
- Provide different interface options depending on user privileges, so power users have complex options while those who spend less time in the CLM only see what they need
- Unify oversight within a single hub for monitoring all agreements
Does it easily integrate with third-party tools?
Your contract management platform needs to speak in the language of the people who use it. And because contracts move across department lines— often including team members from HR, Sales, and Marketing— your CLM solution must be able to integrate with the tools that those departments use.
At the very least, there should be an out-of-box Salesforce integration and an easy way to route more custom APIs through your tool. An out-of-box Salesforce integration is a must because many (if not all) of your contracts must be stored there and accessible to your sales team. But even your company’s more custom applications should not be beyond the pale for a robust contract management platform. Look for a solution with open REST APIs so that even platforms from less ubiquitous vendors can be easily integrated. When your CLM platform has many ways to integrate across your tech suite, you open up opportunities for the contracts to be available cross-functionally.
Can it offer Business Intelligence Analytics to drive decisions?
At this point in the game, every contract management tool should offer business intelligence analytics that identify how and why your contracts are carried out. But there is a world of difference between data that describes and data that leads to better decisions.
For example, every BI tool should be tracking how long it takes to negotiate a contract. But even if the turnaround seems great, this might not represent how satisfied the different parties are with the process. Did the contract go through quickly, with few edits and zero back and forth? Or, did it have to be resubmitted three or more times? Where in the process did your team spend the most time? An excellent business intelligence analytics tool will not only tell you what is working, but will provide context to show you what still needs to be improved.
Can you collaborate with your vendors?
To ensure success with your implementation and continued service, make sure to vet your contract management partner, not just the product. An ace platform will offer additional services and solutions that integrate with your contract management tools, so that if and when you need to expand your solution suite, it is easy to maintain your single source of truth. What’s more, the right partner won’t just provide professional services, but will also set you up with expert-tested best practices. Your CLM can only deliver actionable analytics and drive efficiency if it is set up with the right KPIs in mind, which are not always the most obvious ones. Partnering with leading experts not only in technology, but also in the legal space, is a crucial way to optimize your CLM implementation and ensure that you are getting the most out of your solution suite.
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