Implementing a Contract Lifecycle Management System Is Like Building a House
Part 3: Moving In versus Going Live
In this third and final part we bring the Design Specifications to life: it is where the rubber hits the driveway and how your users will use the delivered Contract Management Software to access all of the contract data.
After defining the major architectural and finishing aspects we need to detail our house with appliances, furniture, window coverings, landscaping, etc. The same process needs to occur for a CLM system. We need to ‘detail’ the finer elements of how the system is to be used. We can plan, chart, and project how the system is to operate, but we need to move past the theoretical and move into the actual testing of the system to ensure that there is a good flow via the user interface and that we are addressing what the business needs. This would include items such as:
|Effective placement of key data elements is necessary to provide a logical flow for how your key CLM users will create and access the data.||• While it is certainly critical to define what screens are necessary, it is equally important to look at the placement of the individual data elements in logical groupings to minimize paging and scrolling as much as possible. This will help to increase user adoption.|
|Creation of clause and template libraries that will be used and have processes in the Contract Management System to handle third party paper.||• Start looking at what you are doing today to assemble the contract and it may surprise that if you don’t already have a library of clauses and templates there is an informal set of typical/standard clauses/templates floating around the organization. Assembling these into a common library for all to use will make the latest version available for all to use.• Using your paper is always a goal to reach for, but there will always be a certain percentage of your contracts that are going to be based off of the other party’s paper. It is important to ensure that your Contract Lifecycle Management System has the facilities to incorporate third party paper just as seamlessly as it does with your corporate templates.|
|Defining the very specific steps and decision points in the workflow path(s).||• Putting together a simple flowchart of who needs to review, approve, and sign the contract will be an essential part of ensuring an auditable process that follows your corporate policies and procedures. • Give a critical eye to value each workflow step brings to the process. Shortening the cycle-time for reviews and approvals should be considered as much as possible.|
|Ensuring that the proper alerts and notifications are triggered at the correct time and sent to the right people.||• This particular item is typically focused on the post execution management of the contract. In setting up these alerts in the CLM system give thought to your past experiences around reporting demands, audits, performance and support issues, risk items, compliance items, etc. • Articulate who needs to do what and when during the active life of contract.|
|Performing end-to-end testing to ensure the delivered product works as per the blueprint.||• You would think this is a given, but it can only happen if there is a concerted effort to design a testing plan and allow for it to be staffed appropriately. Schedule the right people to assemble the testing plan and get the testers to formally block out the time needed to go through defined scripts.|
Just as we move our personal belongings into a new house we need to populate the Contract Lifecycle Management System with core data such as:
|User Roles, security, and permissions in the Contract Management System.||• What are the types of users you would envision using the system: legal, sales, procurement, finance, audit, etc. • Take the Design Specifications and go through each of the Menu items to see which ones each type of user needs to access. • Are there contracts, regions/departments, customers, monetary values, or Contract Types that are to have a restricted list of users?|
|Synchronize customer/vendor information from your CRM/ERP.||• There is great deal of synergy that can be gained by sharing data between the Contract Lifecycle Management System, the CRM and/or your ERP. Think about the Customer and Vendor tables and the sharing of this data. • Process cycle times and data quality can be drastically improved by entering data once and moving it electronically.|
|Extract, transform, and load the legacy contracts.||• While this may seem like a huge mountain to scale there are cost-effective tools available to expedite the process of taking your key contracts and abstracting the key data that can be loaded into the CLM.|
These items along with proper training and guidance will help to transition business users to a new way of creating and managing their contracts and is the landscaping that helps to polish the final product for the highest level of user adoption.
The success of your CLM implementation is based on how well you have prepared your blueprint. Understanding who your stakeholders are (internal and external), what the process steps are (pre and post-execution), and identifying key data points will ensure that you are addressing your organizational goals. Blueprinting these goals and validating the priorities will put your contract management house in order.