Four Stages of Contract Lifecycle Management Success

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions can streamline and automate the creation, negotiation, execution and storage of contracts across the organization. Typically, however, the more complex the process, the more difficult the transformation—and the more mixed the results. 

The contract process is notoriously complex, often with multiple parties required to take multiple steps to reach agreement on a document that can be hundreds of pages long. Poor contract management can also significantly impact business results. Recent Docusign research found that 65% of respondents experience delays in closing deals and recognizing revenue as a result of challenges in the contract process. So while the idea of a contract may be clear, the day-to-day management of multiple contract templates, clauses, signatures, and more gets cumbersome very quickly for most businesses. 

A transformative solution seems to be the answer, but even that is often daunting. From simple e-signature tools and contract repositories to artificial intelligence and enterprise integrations, the transformation process can be overwhelming, leaving too many companies resigned to the way they’ve been doing things for CLM. In other words, resigned to the lost time and money on the bottom line. 

To help organizations tackle the digital transformation of contract processes, Docusign works with experienced system integrators like Simplus. Simplus has helped hundreds of organizations streamline configure-price-quote (CPQ) workflows with Salesforce and other contract management projects.

Based on our companies’ experiences helping customers automate and connect contract workflows, we recommend a digital transformation strategy that progresses through these four key stages. 

Crawl: Contract repository, e-signature, and integration

While the ultimate goal of contract lifecycle management is to automate and connect the entire end-to-end contract process, you have to start by putting the basic foundation in place. This means having one central contract repository. With Docusign CLM, organizations can centralize all their contracts across the business in one secure, organized repository that makes search and discovery easy. This allows companies to have greater control over permissions, reduces the chances of a leak and makes legal teams much more efficient.

Simplus and Docusign have seen the powerful benefits such a central contract repository can offer in our work with customers like AMRI, a global pharmaceuticals company that was previously struggling to manage contracts. 

The ability to integrate with the rest of an organization’s existing applications and departments is a crucial part of the crawl stage. The contract process is often just one stage of a larger business process. A typical sales process, for example, involves customer relationship management (CRM), Configure Price Quote tools (CPQ) and electronic signature tools. With integrated contract software, a sales rep can merge customer information from a CRM system while pulling product and pricing information from a CPQ system to create a contract accurately and quickly.

Walk: Sales and procurement contract automation

Once you’ve established the essentials of your new and improved CLM setup, it’s time to dig into automation more heavily. Enterprise-wide CLM solutions now allow employees and customers to centralize, connect, and automate agreement processes across every department. First up is sell-side contract automation. This includes all your NDAs, MSAs, and SOWs—anything that relates to you selling your business offering to another party. It’s important to choose a CLM solution that automates document generation, facilitates negotiation and redlining, and ensures version control of these contracts. 

At a computer software provider, Simplus and Docusign teamed up to provide the organization with an integrated solution that generates accurate MSAs and order forms using a document template and pre-approved language library. Sales contract automation done right. 

Additionally, the walk stage will include the automation of procurement contracts with suppliers which are typically integrated with back office systems of record like enterprise resource planning (ERP). You’ll want to streamline and automate vendor and partner contracts binding those relationships in a contract lifecycle management solution for optimal automation of even the most complex contracts. 

Run: Enterprise application integrations and document management

Finally: you were born to run, and now your contract management can, too. The next phase of a CLM success trajectory includes enterprise integrations and seamless document management. First off, integrations. Choose a CLM solution that comes prebuilt with the APIs and connectors to make it easier to integrate with the systems you’re already using, like Salesforce. This increases user efficiency, drives adoption and means your organization can prepopulate agreements from existing data, generate agreements, and kick off workflows all while maintaining the integrity of the data in each system. 

Another important step in the run stage is document management. Using the preconfigured templates to auto-populate new contracts, CLM software can help manage all of your contracts in a central repository with easy search capabilities, collaboration support, clause library, and security measures. In this way, CLM solutions can provide companies with faster business, increased compliance, and overall better experience for your customers. 

Simplus implemented the run phase of a complete CLM solution for Dyno Nobel, a global leader in explosives manufacturing. Simplus integrated the Docusign CLM offering into Dyno Nobel’s Salesforce implementation, providing a searchable folder structure for contracts, an automated workflow process to ensure standard provisions were being used, and a consistent approach in delivering customer contracts. With over 30 hours saved per month and a 50 percent reduction in customer onboarding time, the contracting experience has never been easier, faster, or more transparent for both employees and customers. 

Sprint: Contract artificial intelligence

Finally, the piece de resistance of your total CLM transformation: artificial intelligence for contracts. AI-driven contract analytics can rapidly search large collections of agreements by legal concepts (rather than just by keywords); automatically extract and compare critical clauses and terms side-by-side; quickly identify areas of risk and opportunity; and deliver actionable insights that help solve legal and business challenges.

Docusign recently announced its intent to acquire Seal Software, a leader in contract AI analytics. 

Docusign has partnered with Seal Software to incorporate the industry’s foremost AI-powered contract analytics capabilities—dramatically improving the speed, accuracy and volume of your analysis. Docusign Insight pulls in agreements from anywhere and then helps you filter down to the ones that matter. Advanced search and extraction policies identify the clauses you need to review. You can easily build side-by-side comparisons to quickly drill down on inconsistencies and opportunities. 

Couple this with the seamless integration into Salesforce’s AI, Einstein, and you have a 360-degree view of the entire contract process within your organization. 

Contracts don’t have to be an operational nightmare or a drain on your organization’s productivity. By following these four steps to a successful CLM implementation and working with an experienced implementation partner like Simplus, your organization can automate manual tasks, orchestrate complex workflows, and eliminate unnecessary risk. The end result is more efficient employees, an accelerated pace of doing business, and increased compliance. 

Learn more about Docusign CLM and Simplus.

by Casey Karp, Director, ISV Alliances, Simplus

Austin Miller
CLM Expert