Contract lifecycle management (CLM) is the management of an organization’s contracts from initiation through execution, performance and renewal/expiry.
Effective and proactive contract lifecycle management is achieved through the use of contract lifecycle management software. CLM software can lead to significant improvements in cost savings and efficiency. Understanding and automating CLM can also limit an organization’s exposure to risk by reducing missed obligations and increasing compliance with legal requirements.
The key steps in the Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) process are:
While each of these steps is vital in contract lifecycle management, some steps have traditionally gotten more attention than others. For example, for years software devoted to managing contract templates in an organization have been available.
More recently, with the rise of tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning, post-execution contract management has gained more attention as a way to accelerate, protect and optimize businesses.
Let’s look more closely at each step of contract lifecycle management, and how contract lifecycle management software can improve the process.
Template Authoring: Simplifying an organization’s template library can greatly improve contract risk management and accelerate contract turnaround with template selection rules and the Icertis platform’s comprehensive template lifecycle management capabilities.
Smart template authoring allows designated users to pull library clauses into the document, enter custom text, tag metadata in the document, and tag other data such as exhibits and annexures. Rules ensure that any new templates go through an approval process before becoming available for contract creation.
Contract Creation: Extensive rules engines offered by contract lifecycle management software enables dynamic creation of contracts from templates and clauses. Contract content is assembled automatically using any criteria associated with the contract, such as region, products, services or price terms. Rules-based authoring capabilities greatly improve the scalability and agility of contracting operations while also enforcing appropriate process controls.
Advanced contract lifecycle management software even enables no-touch contract creation within line-of-business systems like CRM, sourcing and procurement—taking input and auto-build contracts based on defined business rules. Bulk data upload and contract creation are even possible with best-of-breed solutions.
By empowering business users to create contracts in self-service mode, organizations can achieve faster time to revenue, improve cycle times and significantly reduce legal operating expenses.
Contract Review: Contracts should help a company achieve its commercial objectives, not hinder them. Through intelligent, automated contract review companies can achieve the full potential of negotiated contracts through better enforcement of commercial terms. Contract lifecycle management software captures commercial terms of products and services, prices, discounts, rebates and incentives in a structured form, integrates that data with enterprise systems and helps enforce terms. Workflows ensure a review process to assess compliance before posting to financial systems for settlement.
Contract Approval: Effective contract approval begins with leveraging all the data associated with a contract using rule-based workflow definitions. Best-of-breed contract lifecycle management software automatically assembles workflows and orchestrates the approval process, with support for sequential and parallel approvals. Workflows are changed dynamically based on negotiation updates to ensure governance. Business users can easily manage the intuitive rules, definitions and updates, and they can also intervene manually to influence a workflow with ad hoc steps.
Contract Execution: Contract execution has become highly digitized and mobile. Recently an NFL quarterback executed a $10 million contract from his phone while sitting in a fast-food parking lot! Contract lifecycle management software should feature out-of-box integrations electronic-signature platforms like Adobe Sign. These secure integrations help orchestrate the signature process based on user-defined workflows, while seamlessly updating the document and data back to the central repository after execution. Manual-signature workflows should also be supported, using QR codes to validate incoming signed documents.
Contract Performance: As noted above, post-execution contract administration has long been beyond the purview of digital solutions. This is because contract language is difficult for computers to parse, leaving it to human managers to carry out contract actions.
However, this is no longer the case. Today contract lifecycle management software users can gain valuable performance insights on all areas of contracts from legal, finance, sales and procurement. Contract lifecycle management software includes a full-featured analytics module that enables insights on data such as cycle times, deviations, savings, risks, expiry, renewal statistics, and procurement and sales metrics on contract revenue and spend.
Users can also achieve better compliance for contract commitments by identifying, capturing, assigning and tracking completion of tasks assigned to business owners—even with commitments involving third-party paper and complex commitments, such as those with multiple owners or across regions or business units. Users can easily create commitments in the web interface or Microsoft Word, and commitments can also be auto-created and assigned to owners using rules.
Lastly, users can identify and manage risk post-execution. A configurable risk model helps track risks across different categories, such as financial, contractual, performance and third party. Users can look up and leverage internal data as well as external data, from sources such as D&B and Thomson Reuters, to determine risk scores, ensure proactive risk monitoring and increase visibility for stakeholders.
Contract Expiry: Contract lifecycle management software provides proactive alerts and notifications for significant milestones including contract expiry or renewal. A configurable dashboard provides insights into what the business impact of an expiry or renewal will be so contract owners are not caught off guard.
The Benefits Are Clear
The right CLM solution connects the contract process to order fulfillment and billing, eliminating errors, reducing risk and ensuring that revenue can be forecasted more accurately. Empowered with information, you can treat contracts like what they are: Assets, providing deep insights and competitive advantages.