Contract Lifecycle Management: It all starts with a business case

Making a business case for contract lifecycle management

Contract Lifecycle Management: It all starts with a business case

Although we are well into the age of digital transformation and intelligent automation, many firms are still struggling to digitise their end-to-end contract lifecycle management in a strategic, scalable way. Last year, the Forrester paper on the State of Systems of Agreement found that a staggering 9 in 10 firms are still burdened by manual agreement processes.

There are many reasons why firms find contract digitisation challenging, but a lack of desire to innovate is rarely the main hurdle. Alistair Maiden, CEO and Founder of the legal technology consulting firm SYKE, is a former GC and has been working with customers in all stages of digital transformation. As a strategic Docusign CLM partner, he has found that, “most of the people I deal with day to day have already had a digital epiphany. They are actually quite open-minded and they see the benefit.”

Clear articulation and quantification of benefit is widely recognised as a critical success factor for a scalable, high-value contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution. Customers who address this head-on and early undoubtedly start their transformation in a better position. The Forrester study on the Total Economic Impact of Docusign found Docusign CLM customers achieved ROI between 121% and 356% - with that much potential value on the table, it’s no surprise that a solid business case at the outset facilitates funding discussions, supports stakeholder engagement and sets up the organisation for success.

Learn more about building an effective business case for Contract Lifecycle Management.

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Yet we see many firms avoid or delay the creation of a strategic investment request or business case, often for reasons such as:


The creation of a solid business case is a learned skill, especially for global enterprises going through large-scale transformations. In particular as Legal and Compliance become increasingly strategic functions, the people driving CLM initiatives may not have created this type of investment case before and it can be overwhelming at first. As Alistair explains, “we still spend a lot of time on key questions - why are you doing this, what is the purpose, what are the deliverables, what are the outcomes - and helping clients turn this into a case for investment.” 

Lack of baseline data

Gathering baseline data on average agreement cycle time, percentage template compliance etc. is no small task. The vast majority of organisations lack even a high-level view of their current state, which makes articulation of the benefits case much harder. Even when it comes to Legal teams, whilst we often think of lawyers meticulously recording their chargeable activity to the minute, many legal professionals join corporate legal teams specifically to move away from meticulous time-keeping. Alistair has observed that, “many corporate legal teams don’t have a clue what the team is doing, and often, why they are doing it.” Leveraging benchmark data can be helpful, as well as being critical about must-have versus nice-to-have metrics.

Rushed scoping

Customers are often excited to get moving quickly, and Docusign prides itself on our ability to deliver value quickly. But when a customer jumps into a pilot without stepping back to consider the longer-term solution strategy, it nearly always catches up with them further down the line. It doesn’t need to be a fully-formed plan, but without a strategic direction from the outset, the team may realise they have wasted effort (e.g. they deliver a solution that worked for a pilot but cannot scale) or their initial scope does not provide sufficient data to drive the next phase of rollout/expansion to new use cases (e.g. they realise retrospectively they did not capture the right data or KPIs or they chose an overly complex use case). This can result in rework, significant delays between a pilot and a rollout, or worse, dead end projects.

New stakeholder mix

The CLM business case requires inputs from numerous stakeholder groups spanning the Business, IT, Legal, Compliance and many others. For some of these groups, the level of interaction has been historically limited and relationships are being forged from scratch. “The brutal truth is that the connection between legal, business and IT is often not positive and they don’t really speak the same language,” comments Alistair, “Even when the conversation happens, they don’t really understand each other. We sometimes describe what we do as a legal whispering; trying to understand what each person is trying to achieve and translating that into a technical selection and design process.” Governance and stakeholder mapping are key, being mindful not to over-engineer.

The size of the business case creation challenge varies significantly per organisation, but there are a number of ways we help our customers successfully navigate. For some, it may be our Docusign Value Engineering team guiding a customer through a high-level benefits case, leveraging benchmark data where available; for others, it’s a deeper exercise leveraging the experience of a Docusign partner. In both examples, by putting in a bit of work up front, we see a reduction in overall CLM delivery timelines and a faster path to value.

Docusign and our partners are committed to supporting our customers - current and future - as they work through the challenges above.