How to Choose a Contract Management Solution

By Austin Miller, Director of CLM Product Marketing, DocuSign

Contract management software is crucial to the productivity of an organization. 

Good contract management could improve profitability by the equivalent of 9% of annual revenue, according to recent research by the independent International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM).

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) systems can: streamline and automate a contract’s creation, negotiation, execution and storage. And they’re a smart choice to replace the tedious, manual tools once used for these tasks, which lacked visibility into potential bottlenecks and unnecessarily repetitive steps. 

But it’s important to understand capabilities so that you can select a solution that’s a good fit for your organization. 

New CLM technology now exists, with solutions that are easier and more cost-effective to integrate across an entire organization. To ensure that your company avoids the pitfalls and secures the benefits of a modern CLM solution, it’s important to look for certain capabilities that fit the needs and size of your organization. 

Here’s what to look for in a CLM solution:

A flexible and configurable workflow

By standardizing contract creation and reviews into configurable and flexible workflows, an organization can reduce errors and time spent on manual processes. For example, some solutions offer drag-and-drop tools that help non-technical users design and automate even the most complex agreement processes across multiple contributors, reviewers, and approvers. 

An organization can also reduce confusion and human errors by choosing a contract management system that offers the ability to leverage pre-approved contract templates. Administrators should be able to easily create, configure, and evolve such templates for common documents like NDAs or SOWs. 

In addition, a truly flexible and comprehensive contract workflow should include some type of legal clause library filled with pre-approved legal language. During a negotiation, CLM users such as sales reps can search and insert fallback clauses for common points of negotiation—for example, a less favorable but still acceptable indemnification clause. Instead of needing to go to the Legal team in these routine situations, reps or their managers can use the clause library to save everyone time while maintaining compliance.

A searchable, central contract repository

Contract management systems aim to create a central repository that makes it easy to search for a specific contract. Look for CLM solutions that go beyond simple store-and-search to include organizing and searching by metadata, like tags, date signed and generated, contract type, and other key attributes. This simple addition can make finding a contract faster and more precise.

Easy integration into existing systems

The ability to integrate with the rest of an organization’s existing applications and departments can determine the true value of a contract lifecycle management system. 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.

An integrated contract management system can also create enterprise-wide connectivity. For example, when a CLM solution is integrated with an organization’s CRM system, legal teams can review contracts via the CLM system, as opposed to needing their own licenses to the CRM system just to review contracts. A similar effect is felt by sales teams, who once had to email signed contracts along to other departments for further review and processing. When CLM and CRM solutions are integrated, signatures, contract data, and approvals are automatically routed to other systems and people that need to take action.

The right applications to meet your organization’s specific needs

An organization must first examine internal workflows before choosing the right contract management system. Look for the option that will fit into the systems at your company and best alleviate any ongoing pain points. If your workers aren’t particularly tech-savvy, choose contract software that’s less technical and more intuitive. Or if your organization has struggled with security as it scales or is subject to federal regulations like HIPAA or SOC 2, pick a contract management system that automates these processes to help with compliance.

Learn more about contract lifecycle management

DocuSign CLM meets these needs with easy integrations, a simple interface and proven security and compliance. Unlike any other vendor in the market, DocuSign is FedRAMP certified, meaning the platform complies with strong security mechanisms and robust operational processes that meet or exceed the highest international security standards and protect your documents and data. 

DocuSign CLM is easy to implement, use, and extend across the entire organization, and because it is an integrated component of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, this CLM solution allows customers and employees to tap into other DocuSign applications and products as well.  DocuSign CLM is positioned as a Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contract Lifecycle Management

Related: See our solutions for Salesforce CPQ