How Does Docusign CLM Work?

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) refers to software used for managing contracts from generation through ongoing management and eventual renewal or termination. It has come a long way from the ink-and-paper days, and as contract management continues to grow in complexity, end-to-end contract software solutions are increasingly seen as a business necessity along with other systems like CRM, ERP and others.

This blog digs into how Docusign CLM works, so you understand the different aspects of the contract process that CLM can help you manage. Key functionality breaks down into five key areas:

  • Document generation
  • Negotiation and collaboration
  • Workflow and signing
  • Search, analysis and reporting
  • Integrations and administration

Document generation

Document generation is the first step in every contract journey. The administrative task of tracking down all the details from product SKUs to legal clauses that should be included in a contract makes this step a challenge that many companies struggle with.

Docusign CLM uses a variety of features to generate polished, custom contracts for each specific situation. By automating much of the legwork involved, Docusign CLM reduces errors and speeds up generation significantly.

Key Docusign CLM features: 

  • Customizable templates: create and use contract templates for commonly used contract types as a standard starting point for guided contract generation.
  • Merge fields: allow users to automatically populate templates with existing data from other systems to reduce errors (CRM, ERP, etc.).
  • Electronic forms: capture contract information from business users such as applicable state laws or payment terms and autofill corresponding clause language. Trigger additional reviews when required.
  • One-click document generation in Salesforce: generate custom contracts auto-populated with opportunity data directly from within Salesforce.

Negotiation and collaboration

Once a contract is generated, it needs to be approved internally and reviewed externally several times before it is final. Negotiation and collaboration to reach a final version takes longer than any other step in the contract lifecycle according to our research.

With Docusign, you can digitise and centralise negotiation with the ability to send contracts for review, track changes across multiple versions and maintain a single source of truth for who did what, when. Additional tools allow legal teams to set guardrails for negotiation that allow business teams to handle simple situations on their own, keeping business moving.

Key Docusign CLM features:

  • Comments and tasks: speed up collaboration during contract review, helping to reach consensus and approval faster
  • Version comparison: visualise changes made from one contract version to another for a clear understanding of who did what, when, across multiple versions
  • Send for negotiation: accelerate the review process by automatically sending contracts for review to external parties from within CLM once internal approval is complete 
  • Clause library: aggregate pre-approved clauses in a central location for non-legal users to pull from during contract generation and negotiation
  • AI risk scoring: automatically extract key terms from inbound agreements and generate risk scorecards based on company policies, to ‘fix it before you sign it’

Workflows and signing

Workflows form the process that contracts should follow - when X happens, do Y. Signing is one step in the journey, but there are many steps before and after to gather approvals, notify stakeholders, kick off payments, provision services, store documents in multiple locations and much more.

Workflows are core to modern CLM solutions and Docusign CLM helps customers easily build the exact workflows they need. Users can leverage pre-built recipes or customize their own with Docusign’s best-in-class workflow builder to fully automate even the most complex processes.

Key Docusign CLM features:

  • Custom contract workflows: define and automate the path a contract must follow through review, signature, delivery, payment, obligation management and more
  • AI-based workflows: drive workflows intelligently by conditionally routing agreements based on risk levels and contract language extracted via AI
  • Drag-and-drop workflow editor: enable nontechnical administrators to design and deploy automated workflows based on hundreds of pre-built actions
  • Docusign eSignature: take advantage of a native integration with the world’s leading eSignature solution right from within CLM
  • Responsive signing: ensure contracts fit the device they’re viewed on for a modern experience

Search, analysis and reporting

Keeping contracts organized becomes increasingly complex as a business scales and the volume of contracts and stakeholders increase. Without a central repository governing permissions and accessibility, companies will lose track of documents and struggle to analyze and report on details. Physical storage, general digital repositories and other solutions just don’t fit the specific requirements of sensitive contracts.

With Docusign CLM, you can store, tag and organize contracts in one searchable place that’s built specifically for contracts. This makes it easy to locate existing agreements quickly, report on status and extract insights that reduce risk and improve business function.

Key Docusign CLM features: 

  • Centralized, searchable contract repository: keep your contracts organized in one place and strictly control access with granular permission controls
  • AI term extraction: automatically tag documents with critical details like renewal date, governing law, payment terms and many more for improved search capability
  • AI insights: use AI to automatically identify opportunities and risks within existing contracts
  • Automated alerts and reminders: help users remember renewals, prioritize a queue and more
  • Agreement and party 360 views: provide a filterable look at all executed and in-flight contracts
  • Obligation management: track and manage commitments to customers and vendor obligations using reports and visualizations 
  • Custom reporting: provide an overview of contract activity and trends using custom reports 

Integrations and administration

CLM systems need to be set up and managed properly in order to fully meet company needs. Since contracts are involved across departments and business processes, a CLM platform must be deeply integrated with key systems such as a CRM, ERP or HCM. Integration and administration capabilities are what will set businesses up for success or struggles.

Docusign CLM gives administrators the robust tools they need to manage the whole platform using clicks not code and set it up properly in the first place with pre-built integrations into the most common systems of record to streamline work. Docusign CLM can also be fully customised as well to work with home built or less common systems and processes.

Key Docusign CLM features: 

  • Salesforce integration: access CLM functionality and take action directly from inside Salesforce Sales Cloud and CPQ
  • SAP Ariba integration: connect CLM with the SAP Ariba Contract Workspace out of the box with the ability to automatically update contract and project metadata (start date, end date, supplier ID) from CLM to Ariba or vice versa
  • Workday Financial Management and NetSuite Financials integrations: connect CLM to the ERP solutions you use today by automating common procurement activities
  • Robust API: integrate specific systems and workflows with Docusign CLM with custom development
  • Localization: use Docusign CLM in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese
  • Advanced administration: control user permissions, account settings, integrations, automation details, document attributes and more

Learn More

Based on your needs, Docusign has a suite of CLM editions to meet your needs:

  • Docusign Gen: empower your reps to generate custom agreements with a click and send for signature without leaving Salesforce
  • Docusign CLM: automate the contract lifecycle from docgen to negotiation and other workflows to contract storage and analysis in order to speed up business, improve compliance and deliver a great experience
  • Docusign CLM+: make CLM smart with over 100 pre-trained AI models to manage, analyze and report on key contract data and concepts

Contact sales to learn more and see which edition is right for your organisation.