Crawl, Walk, Run: How Legal Departments Benefit from CLM

Improving contract lifecycle management is a priority for many legal departments, but there's no one-size-fits-all approach. 

Digitizing contract management can be a game changer for organizations of all sizes. Inefficient and disconnected document creation and review processes can sap productivity and increase costly errors caused by opaque approval handoffs or incomplete information. Information silos and disconnected systems make it difficult for legal departments to locate specific contracts quickly, elevating risk as deadlines and obligations are missed.

Not only are these pain points frustrating for legal departments, but they also have real costs for organizations. According to a Docusign survey of 1,300 professionals included in Contract Management Trends 2022, it takes 30 hours on average to move a contract through just a part of its lifecycle, specifically generation, negotiation and location (search). That works out to seven full-time employees to find and prepare only 500 contracts annually.

The good news is that digitizing contract management processes can pay off with a tangible return on investment. Docusign CLM can be implemented modularly, integrating with other essential business systems and scaling with a company's evolving needs.

The benefits legal teams can experience by implementing a modern digital contract repository solution through an iterative “crawl–walk–run” approach was the topic of a recent panel discussion hosted by Jennifer Schwartz, product marketing director at Docusign. The session featured expert insights from Kelly Perry, associate general counsel at SAS, and Natalia Vukasonovic, head of legal operations at TransUnion, along with Anna Fink, enterprise account executive at Docusign.

Reducing “swivel-chairing” in contract management

Both SAS and TransUnion have implemented Docusign CLM across their global organizations, initiatives led by their in-house legal departments. Each company approached digitization with similar priorities, including the need to speed up revenue-generating contract execution and break down internal silos across functions and geographies. To do this, both organizations focused first on improving contract generation and approval workflows for priority contract types, and migrating existing agreements into CLM as a single central repository.

They also sought to reduce the risk of losing or mishandling contracts, integrate with other crucial software platforms and ensure a consistent contracting experience for stakeholders. 

A key priority for SAS was simplifying their overall contracting experience, including reducing contract types, publishing standard terms on their website and changing how contracts are signed.

TransUnion prioritized the integration of CLM with Salesforce, according to Vukasinovic. “Because our sales users are primarily working with Salesforce, we didn't want them swivel- chairing between two different systems,” Vukasinovic says. “With Docusign CLM, they're able to kick off the contracting lifecycle from the opportunity stage within Salesforce. This also gives our legal users visibility into the opportunity and the products associated with it. It was absolutely key for us to have that integration.”

Embracing change in global implementation

Despite their common objectives, SAS and TransUnion have taken somewhat different paths on their Docusign CLM journey. At TransUnion, Vukasinovic started with an initial deployment in the U.S. focused on the highest volume contracts—MSAs and NDAs—and then built functionality for end users to upload their contracts for eSignature and storage. Twelve weeks after that initial rollout, TransUnion began to expand the deployment internationally—first to Colombia and then to other regions.

Perry and her team took a more aggressive approach, initially rolling out Docusign CLM simultaneously across nine of SAS’s major regions in the U.S., EMEA, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Canada.

“We started by building the global design,” Perry says. “We had some key contributors from each of our regions on our initial project team—people who knew the existing processes, supported change, and we're passionate about our mission. Then, when it was time to deploy, we went live with our customer contracting workflow in nine countries, which was a pretty big initial deployment.

“The beauty is that when we went to onboard additional countries, we had everything we needed—the system, the training and the support mechanisms—and we had a champions network in place. We recently deployed in 30 additional countries and it was almost a non-event. We were ready for it.”

Digitization delivers impressive results

Despite their divergent approaches to implementation, both companies have realized outstanding results from deploying CLM.

SAS is now seeing 90 percent of eligible contracts closed through Docusign Click, a customizable clickwrap solution that enables legal departments to capture consent to agreement terms—like terms of service and privacy policies—with a single click of a checkbox or button. And TransUnion reports that three out of four standard contracts get signed within 24 hours, enabling the company to use fewer resources and achieve a quicker return on investment from its client and vendor relationships.

Among the features of CLM that Perry and Vukasinovic have found most useful, two stand out:  the built-in watch list, which allows users to keep track of specific agreements without scrolling through emails or maintaining a separate spreadsheet outside of the system, and the self-service clause library, which empowers users to drop lower-risk, pre-vetted clauses into their agreement as part of the contract generation workflow through a direct integration with Microsoft Word, rather than wasting valuable attorney time. According to Perry, “that’s been transformational.”

Crawl before you run

Vukasinovic and Perry agree that an iterative crawl–walk–run approach can help ensure a successful implementation of CLM for organizations of all sizes. Specifically, Perry touted the benefits of going live with a “minimum viable product,” which helped SAS accelerate the project timeline and achieve some crucial wins early in the rollout.

Organizations can introduce the time-saving efficiency of CLM into their contract management processes in a modular, step-by-step way. Docusign CLM is designed to be easy to implement, beginning with the simplest use cases, then scaling up to handle more complex workflows as an organization’s needs evolve. By crawling and walking before they run, organizations can capture quick wins today, and gain massive efficiencies tomorrow.

For a deeper dive into how a digital contract repository can improve efficiency in your office of legal counsel, watch “Crawl, Walk or Run: Legal Teams Benefit from Docusign CLM,” now available at Momentum 2022 On Demand. Also, check out our recent blog that discusses the benefits of using CLM as your digital contract repository.