How IT Can Support a Successful CLM Implementation

Today’s IT leaders and decision-makers are driving enterprise-wide decisions around digital transformation and investments in technology—especially important, given their availability and powerful capabilities.

November 7, 2023

The final blog in our series explores the specifics of how IT departments can help drive both CLM implementation and adoption by partnering with other departments.

George Westerman, of MIT’s Sloan Initiative, once wryly observed:

“When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.”

Let’s talk about getting it right, finding the butterfly if you will, with CLM implementations.

Today’s IT leaders and decision-makers are driving enterprise-wide decisions around digital transformation and investments in technology—especially important, given their availability and powerful capabilities.

Over our last four blogs, we’ve highlighted the value Contract Lifecycle Management(CLM)delivers to organizations. In our final blog, we’ll discuss steps IT can take to ensure your team gets the full value from its investment.

The cocoon: Review your current contract objectives

Begin the process by reviewing your current contract maturity levels and objectives.

CLM implementation requires a paradigm shift in how companies do business with third parties, and as with similar technology implementations, having a well-defined plan and clear requirements are critical.

In this instance, questions specific to CLM must be included—focusing on people, processes, contract standards, data migration, integrations, and any custom design components. For instance, you’ll want to consider the following questions:

  • Check the goals and objectives for the CLM project. Are they long-term or short-term?
  • Have the areas of business and specific contracts that will be included in the project been clearly defined? If so, is there a list of prioritized requirements based on feedback from each affected area of the business?
  • Do you want to create and manage contracts organization-wide—buy-side, sell-side, and corporate? How important is the ability to handle third-party paper?
  • Are there currently measured KPIs associated with the contracting process? Are there any specific KPIs that you want to be able to measure once you have a CLM solution in place?
  • Is there a change management group within the organization that will drive user adoption, and there is a training plan in place?
  • What’s the project timeline, and are there gated stages to consider?

contract-management-maturity-model

Finding the butterfly: Begin with the end goals in mind

Icertis has learned a few best practices over the years, including understanding project goals and scope while gathering necessary data, identifying gaps, and KPIs that keep the project on track.

Begin with the end in mind. As you set your project goals, think about the kinds of reports, analytics, dashboards, and metrics you want the system to deliver post-launch. By doing so, you ensure that the steps taken during implementation deliver the results you need to make informed contracting possible.

Importantly, you’ll also want to take the time to understand trends in CLM technology. Study the industry, read reports from independent analysts like Gartner and IDC to understand how they evaluate vendors in this space to understand how they evaluate vendors in this space.

Help clarify what lies ahead

Establishing a clear picture of what contract excellence looks like in your organization allows employees to drive to the same goal across departments, geographies, and functions. Contracting, after all, is not just one department’s job; every function is affected by the information embedded within contracts.

Successful implementation is tightly tied to the mapping of necessary processes and approval workflows.

For example, the legal department will be looking to standardize organization-wide sets of approved templates and clauses. IT can support standardization by ensuring the system provides easy access and integrates well across the enterprise.

Another common goal in CLM deployments is creating a “Single Source of Truth”—a cloud-based central repository which includes both active and inactive (legacy) contracts. IT plays a critical role in creating and supporting this enterprise-wide effort; the repository may be created as one large implementation or as a phased migration.

During the process, consider adding deep search functionality and AI-assisted digitization of legacy contracts; this helps users to quickly search across thousands of documents so that no contract goes unfound.

Encouraging adoption

Low user adoption usually happens when people go around the system when they find it doesn’t respond as well as they’d like. The main reason for this is fragmented processes and a lack of proper integration between contract management systems and other enterprise systems—creating blocks and low productivity. IT should work toward greater adoption with correct configuration and integration, followed by a rigorous CLM system testing process, particularly with third-party systems. Rapid adoption is also helped by testing CLM technologies with and against other key systems of record, like ERP and CRM tools.

As you test, remember to also think through scalability and performance plans. They help the CLM system keep pace with changing business environments and seamlessly handle increased demand, while continually improving user experience. 

Living and working in a digital economy requires businesses to pivot rapidly to meet constantly changing global requirements. CLM helps maximize the value of every dollar spent on a contract and increases revenue along the way; IT plays a critical role in its adoption and utilization. And to give this transformation wings, IT must be an active participant every step of the way.

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