What Should be Implementation Methodology, Phase-wise Rollout?

CLM implementation

Ever thought about why the contract lifecycle management (CLM) space is attracting so much growth? It constituted 25 percent of the contract management market and was valued at about $936.4 Mn in 2021 by Future Market Insights. Moreover, it will grow rapidly and touch $2,413.9 Mn by 2029.

Investment in contract and commercial management capabilities is on the rise– and automation and digitization have become a priority for almost seven out of 10 respondents – as per a study by World Commerce & Contracting and Deloitte. So it is not surprising to see that 81 percent of legal teams plan to implement, replace, or add to contract automation over the next twelve months.

After all, every business is now extra careful about squeezing out savings, adding profits, and reducing wastage- especially after the challenges and lessons seen during the pandemic. Contracts cannot be the loophole where efficiency, value, and time leak out and silently hurt a business. That’s why implementing any contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution assumes extra significance.

Incidentally, the Deloitte study also reveals that the need for speed, flexibility, and consistency drives intense activity to create fall-backs, automated playbooks, and more dynamic clause libraries. Consider this – Twice as many contract and commercial groups are seeing headcount increases as those facing decreases, especially in organizations where resources are more integrated and operating as shared service centers. This iterates the need for having the right approach to implementing a contract lifecycle management (CLM).

Understand CLM before the roll-out

A contract lifecycle management (CLM) is a great way to manage a contract through every stage of a contract’s lifecycle. CLM solutions help to streamline all the processes associated with the life cycle of each contractual agreement. In addition, they are there to ensure that an organization does not have any oversight areas regarding meeting deadlines, achieving quality, conducting audits, averting risks, and achieving practical compliance. In today’s highly competitive and regulatory environment, no enterprise can afford to miss deadlines or attract penalties from missed milestones or high-risk financial errors in a contract.

That’s where a CLM helps to standardize contract processes, streamline the entire process, schedule calendars, integrate with other functions, and achieve the desired levels of transparency. With the right CLM in place, an enterprise can gain accountability, speed, and business impact- without too much trouble. All this leads to improvement in revenues, customer experience levels, and back-office efficiency,

Now that you know how vital a CLM is, it’s time to switch it on correctly.

CLM implementation – incremental and strategic

As tempting as any contract lifecycle management (CLM) brochure sounds, there is seldom that plug-and-play scenario that everyone promises. Any enterprise would have to go through some learning curve before it can derive results from a CLM solution. The key here is to have a clean, well-thought-out, and humble approach to implementation. Map it holistically – with a clear comprehension of your organization’s actual weaknesses and gaps. Do not be afraid to take small steps. Learn from your mistakes and keep correcting them with the right feedback pointers.

If you have that psychological orientation, your implementation is already on the right track. Now – Start with the exact need that has triggered this roll-out- do any specific user groups or problem areas (like risk management or compliance) have pushed for this decision? Such documentation can then be translated into KPIs, timelines, and other essential metrics.

Plan properly – from team requirements, available skill-sets, and time windows. Do due diligence on the CLM solution’s integration with existing IT stacks.

Once this is taken care of, it’s time to look at the ‘people’ aspects. Involve key stakeholders from the initial stage- clarify roles and empower them with due ownership. Finally, have the right resources and bandwidth dedicated for the roll-out.

Do not miss out on the other parts. Standardize templates. Reduce dependencies on internal teams. Remove infrastructure hurdles, if any. Put in the right KPIs – for the correct timelines. Inject any additional features, if needed, as per the CLM’s complexity. Create contingency plans in advance.

The findings from a Standish Group report also invoke a new and counter-intuitive thought. One should stop treating software implementation as some one-time event or project. It also hints that a long and batch-like approach should be replaced with continuous improvements. “The real breakthrough came when we realized that software is infinite, while projects are finite. This approach to software development will break the chains that hold back our advances. Make 2020 the end of software projects…” says the Standish Group Chaos Report (2020) Beyond Infinity.

So start taking incremental steps – this can help you find problem areas in any of the above points before the problem is out of your hands. Do not let it scale out of control- arrest these triggers at the very nascent stage when you spot them. And do take help from the right CLM experts in this field. They can bring in that much-needed outside perspective, objectivity, and a battle-tested experience to guide you well on strategy and execution.

One step at a time- to the last mile.

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