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Once you finalize your CLM solution, it’s time to begin integrating it into your company processes. Contract management software implementation can be a challenging yet ultimately rewarding process.

From defining the contract management system’s role within your company to setting up an effective project management system that will help manage the adoption process and meet deadlines, there is a lot that goes into deciding how to implement a contract management system.

To help you make this process as seamless as possible, we have curated a guide that goes over everything you need to know before implementing a CLM software.

Let’s dive in.

Considerations for Successful CLM Implementation

There are a few things to think about when you’re trying to execute the adoption of a CLM tool that’ll help you take care of contracts with minimal hassle. Let’s look at a few of the most important ones. 

Ease of Use

The first and probably more obvious question worth asking is: How easy is it to use your CLM? The easier to adopt it is, the less of a learning curve your team will have to get through.

In turn, this can only mean a smoother integration process that doesn’t interfere with project deadlines or slows down your team. Time is valuable when you’re trying to implement a new tool within your existing workflow. 

The easier your CLM tool is to learn, the less time you’ll have to spend answering questions, troubleshooting features, or having to revise error-prone contracts. It’s also important that reports are easily accessible so decision-makers can quickly find relevant data.

How easy is it to use your CLM?

Onboarding requirements

Does your business infrastructure have everything it needs to implement a contract management system and key individuals have access to knowledge on how to make that possible without any extra hurdles? How will you measure success? Are there KPIs that need special attention to deem your contract management system implementation a success?

Some considerations that can help make this process as smooth as possible include:

  1. Defining who will be responsible for each stage of the integration process. This will help ensure that everyone is on track and understands their role in successfully integrating the CLM software.
  2. Identifying which software modules need to be updated or replaced for the CLM tool to work correctly within your company’s system architecture. Again, a clear understanding of system requirements will help minimize disruptions during the integration process.
  3. Prioritizing which software features should be implemented first in order to minimize downtime while the rest of the system is updated. 
  4. Using effective communication tools to keep everyone informed about progress and potential complications.

It’s important that all the relevant individuals in the organization are kept in the loop during the CLM implementation. Work closely with your internal legal team and product teams in order to ensure that all contracts are templatized properly and rolled out smoothly across the company.

Once these requirements are collected, dedicate the necessary bandwidth and ensure that the rollout of the CLM is a part of the internal team’s KPIs.

CLM system complexity

Ease of use can be great to prioritize, but at what cost? A contract management system can be complex, and that’s okay! If CLM system complexity means it comes with additional features that better mold to the needs of your team, the learning curve will be well worth the results. Ultimately, you might need to make some trade-offs and compromises to get the best possible outcomes.

Common Challenges When Implementing a Contract Management Software

One of the biggest reasons CLM rollouts fail is a lack of planning in the initial stages. Unfortunately, a CLM process isn’t something you can just add to your team’s workload and assume they’ll automatically integrate.

And lack of preparation will only lead to teams failing to make a CLM a crucial part of how they work. Some CLM implementation challenges can do more damage than others. It all depends on factors like the needs and size of your team. Here are a few worth highlighting:

Key Stakeholders Aren’t included in Rollout

Make sure all stakeholders (internal and external) are on board before rolling out the CLM system-wide. 

Does your sales team know you’re implementing a CLM tool but not your customer success team? That’s a problem—especially because the likelihood that both teams will have overlapping CLM needs is high.

As you proceed with the implementation of a contract management software of your choice, be intentional about including key stakeholders—whether this means team leads or the C-suite. The more key stakeholders you include as part of your implementation process, the less space you leave for miscommunication.

Inviting everyone for CLM roll-out

Usage Questions Don’t Have Clear Answers

How can you support teams in the adoption of your CLM tool? Can you create a centralized team wiki that answers the most frequently asked questions? Does your CLM provider equip you with accessible webinars or how-to guides?

Users need to know what data is being captured and how it will be used, as well as the process for filing or resolving contract requests. One of the best ways to ensure users are comfortable with your CLM system is to provide clear usage guidelines from day one.

Unanswered questions won’t move your implementation process forward. And unanswered questions lead to frustrated teams. As you get started implementing your CLM tool, don’t underestimate the power of creating a centralized document team can have access to in case they need to learn about updates or answers to key questions.

Creating centralized document

Some Tools Don’t Integrate Into Your Existing SaaS Stack

While at face value, some contract management software tools will look amazing, they might lack the ability to integrate with your existing SaaS stack—which puts a huge burden on your IT team to figure out a way to make the software work as part of your company processes.

Before making a final decision on a contract management system, doing your due diligence in checking for features, negotiating rates, and gauging how much support it offers can mark the difference between a CLM implementation process that falls flat and one that’s integrated in record time.

Ensure that training materials are easily accessible and keep team turnover at a minimum by developing clear onboarding guidelines and providing on-going support throughout the implementation process

Support integrations

Overlapping Features Can Get Confusing

Before implementing a contract management tool of your choice, check in with your technical team to avoid overlapping tools or compatibility and integration issues. Choose a CLM that has experience integrating with your company's existing systems

Teams often onboard SaaS tools without communicating with all stakeholders, creating problematic bottlenecks. Hence, cross-functional communication is integral to ensuring a smooth contract workflow process. It’s best to be proactive and avoid such issues before they become costly and time-consuming.

How to implement a successful CLM plan

How can you equip your company to successfully implement a contract management system? So far, we’ve highlighted some of the mistakes companies make when trying to implement a CLM tool. But now it’s time for solutions. A high-level approach with a five-step process can help you move forward.

Plan Ahead

Regarding CLM adoption, the key is to plan and get everyone on board. This means working with your team leaders and division heads to ensure everyone understands the benefits of a CLM implementation and what unique challenges may come up.

Rapid onboarding requires a clear step-by-step approach. Remember that you’re not onboarding only one employee. In some instances, you’re tasked with getting sizable groups to start using CLM software, so planning is vital.

This can be as simple as creating a centralized document where you outline things like:

  • Who oversees the CLM implementation process?
  • What teams are expected to be onboarded, and in what order?
  • What’s the expected timeframe for the CLM rollout to the first team?
  • What’s the contingency plan if adoption is unsuccessful? 
  • How do I get all my historical contracts on the CLM?

The more detailed you can be about responsibilities, expectations, and timelines, the fewer hurdles you’ll encounter throughout the process. 

Invest in Training

A rule of thumb is that the more complex your contract management system is, the more you’ll need to invest in proper training. If you skip training and go straight to rollout, you’ll risk contract mismanagement and add to your team’s already full workload. 

Don’t be afraid to invest in CLM training. Whether it’s something the providers offer or an in-house effort. Training your employees to use a new tool counterintuitively helps you save time in the long run—because your team will make fewer mistakes.

Choose All-in-one Tools

One of the best ways to safely implement your contract management software is to go for the all-in-one tools. For instance, SpotDraft is designed to cover more than just e-signature and workflow needs.

Choosing all-in-one platform

Some features worth looking out for when it comes to contract lifecycle management software are things like:

  • Real-time collaboration tools
  • Revision history features
  • E-signature capabilities
  • Automations for contract renewals
  • Contract templates
  • Comment and tagging features
  • Contract security tools
  • Onboarding features
  • Self-serve account management capabilities

The more features your software offers, the less you’ll have to integrate additional tools to your SaaS stack to manage the ins and outs of contracts. As you can probably guess, that can get messy quickly—which will only slow your team down. 

Integrate with Every Function

Integrating contract management software with other business processes is critical. This includes systems like procurement, customer relationship management (CRM), and human resources management (HR).

When it comes to contract lifecycle management software, there are two ways to do this: synchronizing your data manually or using a tool that does the synchronization for you. Automation helps import changes from disparate systems into the contract management system. This can save time and keep your team organized while working on contracts.

Ensure all these systems are talking to each other during your contract management software implementation. This includes setting up integration points and testing them to ensure everything works as expected. Plan for data migration and test integrations throughout the process.

Make Space for Errors and Feedback

Inevitably, your CLM management software implementation will have some wins and losses. Yet it’s paramount to frame this as an opportunity to learn from errors and be receptive to feedback.

What about your contract management tool that isn’t working right for your team? Why does everyone constantly complain? 

Start by introducing the system to select groups of users and gradually roll it out to more and more employees. If there are any issues with the implementation process, address them quickly so as not to disrupt workflow unnecessarily.

Deployment should occur gradually over time to avoid potential integration issues. Schedule regular system check-ins with your IT team for any software updates or repairs to be made smoothly.

Remember that it’s best not to adopt a contract management system overnight. Take your time and ensure everything goes smoothly before moving on to the subsequent implementation phase.

As you receive feedback, you’ll be better able to configure processes and reflect on your CLM tool of choice. In some cases, it could be that the tool you’ve chosen to implement falls short of all the features your team needs to ship work, manage clients, and cover their legal bases. 

If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to reroute back to square one and find a tool that’s a better fit. In the long run, it’ll cost less to retrace your steps and try again than to force a tool that doesn’t bring as much value as you initially thought. 

Ideally, you should pick a tool that actively listens to customer feedback to improve the product, ensuring that the CLM solution you like improves with time.

-> Read Now: Is it time to onboard a contract management platform?

Contract Management Software Implementation with SpotDraft

While figuring out how to implement a contract management system isn’t the most straightforward task to tackle, such tools are worth integrating into your existing workflows to cover your legal bases as you revise, update, store, finalize, and sign contracts. 

Thankfully, tools like SpotDraft are designed to streamline the process of managing legally binding documents with ease.

Take charge of your contracts and request a SpotDraft demo here.