Ten Tips for an Agile Implementation of Contract Management Software

If your company has spent years trying to streamline your contracting process, it's easy to get excited hearing about the ease of implementation or the ability to achieve ROI quickly via a contract lifecycle management (CLM) tool. But once your organization has selected a CLM tool, how do you turn these promises into reality during implementation?

It’s 100% possible for your organization to implement a CLM efficiently, effectively and with demonstrable go-live success. Here are the top 10 tips for an agile implementation of contract lifecycle management:

Tips to follow before you kick off a CLM project

  1. Document your existing process. Whether it's on the back of a napkin or a color coded swimlane diagram, starting with a visualization of your existing contract process helps your team understand the starting point for developing a process within CLM. Even if this entire process ends up getting scrapped, starting from the same point helps your team get on the same page.
  2. Know your stakeholders. If your process is the "what", your participants in the contract process are the all-important "who" (legal, for instance). If you hope to design a better process within your CLM system, you'll need not only their input, but their buy-in. 
  3. Designate an executive single point of contact (SPOC) for build decisions. What happens when there's a disagreement on a path forward between your legal and sales teams? To streamline the process, you'll need someone to break ties and stalemates to avoid delays. Delegate an involved leader to be the final vote should these situations come up. 

Tips to follow before you begin the CLM build

  1. Focus on the big steps before diving into details. If your team has been working through a manual process for years (or decades), seeing the advanced capabilities of CLM solutions can be eye opening. But a good process is more important than any bell or whistle a system offers. Make sure you align on the larger process steps before diving into nuanced functionalities. 
  2. Get your subject matter experts (SMEs) engaged. During design workshops, it's extremely important for the core project team to stay involved. The core team should prioritize engaging cross-functional SMEs internally to ensure that the process design is not only streamlined, but all-inclusive of necessary participants. A bonus of this engagement–these SMEs will be more equipped to become future power users and evangelists of the system within their unique department or function.
  3. Formalize your sign-off process. Once you've completed your design, put a bow on it via a formalized sign-off. This act may seem symbolic, but it's a way to ensure your team is fully engaged and bought in. A clearly defined scope of work that is agreed upon across your team, the vendor and the implementation partner is critical to avoid an untimely "re-designs" in the middle of the build, or worse, after the build has been fully completed. 

Tips to follow during CLM implementation

  1. Get trained: Classroom Style. If your CLM solution has formalized training offerings, the best time to take these courses is during the build. That way, as your team completes the technical components of the build, you'll have your training at the top of your mind and be well prepared for the subsequent testing and go-live. 
  2. Get trained: Hands-On Learning. Whether your team is utilizing a solution implementation consultant or not, hands-on learning during the build is a great call. Ask to take some time during the technical portion of the build to facilitate knowledge transfer. That way, you'll be able to pair your knowledge of the concepts of the system with the real-world example that your organization will be using for years to come.

Tips for user acceptance testing

  1. Try to break everything. If you've followed the tips up until now, you'll have a good understanding of your process, your people, the CLM tool and your specific CLM configuration. This is where it all comes together: bring a cross-functional team together to test all of the functionality of your configured system. If your team wants to do UAT right, don't just test the standard path - test the nuances, exceptions, and one-offs. The best CLM systems have been fortified by a robust UAT with engaged participants.

Tips for CLM go-live

  1. Advocates = Adoption. Congrats - your team has made it to go-live in record time! Now how do you get your team to start using the system right away? If you've engaged your cross-functional teams throughout the process, utilize them as departmental trainers and system advocates. Change management is crucial to an efficient start on CLM. The more your team spreads the word and stays involved, the more likely your organization is to adopt usage of your new CLM tool. 

The more you invest upfront in these best practices ahead of time and throughout your CLM implementation, the more long-term success you'll have. The most successful CLM implementations include an experienced system integrator partner and a dedicated vendor account team including customer success managers who’ve helped hundreds of customers navigate these projects successfully.

While these 10 tips can be utilized for any contract management solution, selecting the correct tool increases the likelihood that you'll have an efficient and effective start with contract lifecycle management. Learn more about how Docusign CLM helps automate manual contract tasks, streamline workflows, and reduce errors and risk in your contract process.

This blog was contributed by Spaulding Ridge, a Docusign platinum partner. Founded in 2018, Spaulding Ridge is a top management consulting firm, dedicated to client success and helping organizations implement and adopt best-in-cloud technology to solve their most pressing challenges. We provide the office of the CFO financial clarity to Sales and Operational complexity by integrating financial and sales SaaS Platforms.

We help:

  • Finance gain control – Increasing financial effectiveness, insight, and impact
  • Sales increase Productivity – Hitting quota more quickly, consistently, and efficiently
  • Operations increase Competitiveness – Through productivity rates, customer service outcomes, and efficiency

Questions on how the Docusign CLM function can make your business more efficient? Contact ahelin@spauldingridge.com or visit https://www.spauldingridge.com/docusign to learn more about how Docusign can streamline your agreements process.