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A Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) platform, just like every other piece of technology, is designed to streamline processes and simplify life for its users. But sometimes, these platforms may fail to deliver on their purpose, leaving users disappointed.

According to a 2024 report by Gartner, 3 in 5 software buyers regret their purchase decisions within the last 18 months.

While many factors can contribute to this situation, the tool’s implementation procedure is often a major culprit. Indeed, the extent of a CLM’s capabilities and its ultimate ROI hinge greatly on the thoroughness of its implementation process.

Poor CLM implementation practices can lead to counterproductive outcomes, forcing you to settle for subpar experiences.

In this guide, we have covered some of the challenges organizations face during CLM implementation, the mistakes they make, how enlisting the services of seasoned experts can help, and proven best practices for selecting the best advisory partner.

Common challenges organizations face with CLM implementation

“Leveraging a CLM has been key because it has reduced a lot of friction from handoffs between legal and business. Rather than going back and forth over email, Slack, Word, Zoom, DocuSign, and a whole tech stack, the CLM acts as a single source of truth.”

Jonathan Franz, Head of Legal, Crunchbase
Navigating Economic Turbulence and Thriving in Chaos

Implementing a CLM system can be a game-changer for organizations, but this process isn’t always without hiccups. When you consider the full catalog of processes that must be completed—process redesign, data migration, user training, change management, and more—it becomes a tad unrealistic to expect a 100% hitch-free process.

Thus, a successful CLM implementation requires a good deal of knowledge, preparedness, patience, and optimism.

Here are some of the most common challenges organizations face in CLM implementation processes.

#1 Resistance to change

“No matter how nifty and cool the technology is, it will fail miserably if no one on your team (or in the company) uses it.  This is why user acceptance is among the most critical tasks in your project plan.  User acceptance is primarily the process to ensure the technology is presented – and works – in a way that people will use it, along with the training program on how to use the tool.”

Sterling Miller, CEO and Senior Counsel, Hilgers Graben PLLC
Ten Things: Buying and Implementing Legal Tech

The introduction of a new CLM system, like any major change initiative, can encounter varying levels of resistance from stakeholders. Users accustomed to familiar, albeit potentially inefficient, workflows may feel hesitant to embrace the new system.

This resistance can come in several forms, such as reluctance to adopt new workflows, skepticism about the benefits of CLM, or concerns about job security.

Without support from people directly impacted by the CLM, the implementation process is bound to hit a lot of stumbling blocks.

#2 Complexities with data migration

Pre-CLM implementation, most organizations have no standardized way of housing contracts and contract-related data. Everything is scattered across various repositories, making data extraction and consolidation a significant challenge.

Additionally, the traditional contract management process is characterized by inconsistent contract formats, non-standardized clauses, and inaccuracies.

This can further complicate the migration process as the implementation team would need to painstakingly cleanse and validate every contract-related data before centralizing them in a repository.

#3 Challenges with integrating into existing systems

CLM systems rarely operate in a vacuum. They need to integrate with existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other systems to facilitate a unified data flow and avoid redundant data entry.

Interestingly, this appears to be a widespread challenge, with 39% of organizations reporting issues when integrating new apps into existing systems.

Without adequate integration with existing systems, CLMs may fail to realize their full potential and may lead to operational inefficiencies.

Also read: 6 Must-Have CLM Integrations for Streamlined Workflow and Higher ROI

#4 Vendor selection and management issues

Selecting the right CLM vendor is paramount for successful implementation. However, with the sheer number of CLM vendors making their way into the industry with a myriad of offerings, it's become more challenging for organizations to find vendors that align with their specific needs, budget constraints, and scalability requirements.

Moreover, once a vendor is selected, effective vendor management becomes mission-critical. Issues such as communication gaps, unmet expectations, or lack of support can arise, impacting the success of the implementation process.

#5 Potential scope creep

“Even under the best of circumstances, it is unlikely that all of the assumptions made in the scoping plan and project plan stay static.”

Sterling Miller, CEO, Hilgers Graben PLLC
Ten Things: Legal Project Management for Beginners

Scope creep—the expansion of project goals beyond the initially defined boundaries—is a common challenge in CLM implementation.

During the implementation process, new feature requests, customizations, and unforeseen complexities can arise, potentially causing the project scope to expand beyond initial plans. This can lead to budget overruns, extended timelines, and reduced focus on core objectives.

Common mistakes organizations make with CLM implementation

As already established, the extent of your CLM’s capabilities and its ultimate ROI hinge greatly on the thoroughness of its implementation process. CLM implementation is a multifaceted process that requires proper preparation, attention to detail, and constant optimization.

Unfortunately, many organizations, in a bid to roll out the CLM quickly, miss out on key steps and end up shooting themselves in the foot. In this section, we’ve detailed some common mistakes you must avoid.

#1 Inadequate preparation

“The more time spent upfront, the less surprises there will be down the road.”

Sterling Miller, CEO, Hilgers Graben PLLC
Ten Things: Legal Project Management for Beginners

Underestimating the complexity of CLM implementation can lead to significant setbacks. Organizations that fail to perform process analysis, define clear objectives, or identify stakeholder needs are setting themselves up for difficulties.

This foundational misstep can manifest in misaligned workflows, inefficient system configuration, and user dissatisfaction. Investing in meticulous pre-implementation preparation is crucial for laying a smooth path to success.

#2 Unrealistic expectations

Believing that a CLM system will magically solve all contract management woes without effort is a recipe for disappointment. Overestimating the immediate impact or underestimating the time and resources required for user adoption and system optimization can lead to frustration and discouragement.

Setting realistic expectations based on a clear understanding of implementation timelines, ongoing change management needs, and gradual workflow improvements is key to maintaining momentum and ensuring long-term success.

#3 Poor change management strategies

Ignoring the human element of change can derail even the most meticulously planned implementation. Failing to communicate effectively, address user concerns, and provide adequate training can lead to resistance, low adoption rates, and project failure.

Effective change management requires active user engagement, ongoing communication, and a supportive environment that fosters learning and adaptation.

#4 Inadequate testing

Inadequate testing is a significant pitfall during CLM implementation. Organizations may neglect thorough system testing before full deployment, leading to undetected bugs or errors that can disrupt contract management processes.

To fix this, organizations should implement rigorous testing protocols involving key stakeholders and address any identified issues before the CLM system goes live. Comprehensive testing ensures the system's reliability, functionality, and compatibility with existing processes.

#5 Failure to monitor and adapt

CLM implementation is an ongoing process, not a one-time event that ends with go-live. Organizations that fail to monitor system usage, analyze user feedback, and adapt to changing circumstances risk stagnating and missing out on potential optimizations.

Establishing robust monitoring mechanisms, actively soliciting user feedback, and embracing ongoing adjustments based on data and user input are vital to ensuring the CLM system continues to deliver value over time.

How specialized advisory services can help

Navigating the complexities of CLM implementation doesn't have to be a solo endeavor.

Specialized advisory services, such as Lex by SpotDraft, are designed to provide the expert guidance and support you need to achieve a successful rollout and maximize the benefits of your CLM system.

Here, we will discuss ways leveraging specialized advisory services may be your best move.

#1 Tailored assessment and strategic roadmaps

An advisory services agency begins by thoroughly assessing your current contracting processes, data landscape, and technology infrastructure. This in-depth evaluation provides valuable insights into your unique needs, pain points, and readiness for adopting a CLM system.

Based on these findings, the team develops a customized roadmap, charting a course that aligns with your unique needs, budget, and long-term vision. This serves as your guiding light, ensuring your implementation efforts are laser-focused on achieving maximum impact.

#2 Vendor selection and evaluation

With a plethora of CLM vendors vying for your attention, choosing the right one can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Advisory service agencies bring their experience and expertise to the table, meticulously evaluating vendor offerings against your unique requirements and available resources.

They leverage their in-depth knowledge of the CLM landscape and vendor capabilities to shortlist options that seamlessly integrate with your existing systems, cater to your unique workflows, and scale with your future growth. This ensures you select the perfect CLM partner, not just a temporary fix.

#3 Change management and accelerated user adoption

Change, even for the better, can be met with resistance. Advisory service agencies recognize this human element and employ proven change management methodologies. They actively engage stakeholders, fostering open communication and addressing concerns head-on.

Through targeted training programs, intuitive system configurations, and ongoing support, they bridge the gap between user apprehension and enthusiastic adoption, ensuring your CLM system thrives with the full backing of your team.

#4 Data migration and systems integration

Migrating years of contract data scattered across silos to a new, unified system can be a nightmare, even for the most experienced professionals.

However, experts from advisory services agencies have witnessed this situation more times than you can count. Thus, they usually know what to expect and are armed with the right tools to navigate these complexities.

They seamlessly transfer your data, ensuring accuracy and completeness while cleansing and standardizing it for optimal performance within the CLM system.

Additionally, they bridge the gap between your CLM system and existing enterprise applications, creating a unified data flow that eliminates redundancies and streamlines workflows across the board.

Also read: 5 Steps to Migrate Legacy Contract Data

#5 Playbooks and template creation

“A properly prepared contract playbook allows the legal and Sales teams to stay aligned and close contracts faster (or know when it’s time to walk).”

Sterling Miller, CEO, Hilgers Graben PLLC
Ten Things: Minimizing Risk in Commercial Contracts

Advisory services help you create standardized processes, templates, and best practices tailored to your CLM system. These playbooks serve as a reference point for your team, ensuring consistency, quality, and efficiency in contract management.

From contract creation to post-execution obligations, these pre-defined procedures empower your team to navigate every step with confidence and clarity.

Also read: Prepping for Progress—Why you need a Legal Playbook

#6 Ongoing support and value-driven monitoring

“If you think that you're doing everything perfectly, you're not going to grow. There's always an opportunity for self-improvement.”

Doug Luftman, ex-DGC, DocuSign
The Key to Success as an In-House Legal Counsel & Leader

Your CLM implementation journey doesn't end with the system going live. Advisory services provide ongoing support, acting as your trusted partners throughout the system's lifecycle. They monitor usage, analyze data, and actively leverage your feedback to identify areas for improvement and optimization.

This ensures your CLM system continues to deliver value, adapt to changing needs, and evolve alongside your organization.

Selecting the right advisory partner: Best practices to follow

While partnering with a specialized advisory services agency can be instrumental to the success of your CLM implementation, it is important to understand that not all advisory services are created equal.

Selecting the right advisory partner can be the difference between a smooth, value-driven implementation and a bumpy road fraught with challenges. To ensure you do not end up in the latter, ensure you follow the best practices below.

#1 Pay attention to track record

In every professional endeavor, experience speaks volumes. Look for advisors with a proven history of successful CLM implementations in your industry or with similar challenges. Ask for case studies to verify their expertise and gauge their approach to overcoming common obstacles.

A strong track record of successful CLM implementations is a reliable indicator of their ability to navigate your specific challenges and deliver tangible results.

#2 Consider how their offerings align with your budget

Cost shouldn't be the sole driving factor, but finding an advisor whose offerings align with your budget can significantly benefit your organization.

Clearly communicate your budget constraints upfront and seek advisors who offer flexible packages tailored to your specific needs.

Lex, for instance, has one of the most flexible pricing options in the industry. Each of its monthly pricing packages offers a number of credit units that can be spent on a variety of services. Upon exhaustion, you’re allowed to purchase extra units to continue where you left off. This ensures that you get access to transparent pricing that grows with your organization.

#3 Emphasize cultural fit and team chemistry

Successful collaborations hinge on strong personal connections. During your interactions with potential advisors, pay close attention to their communication style, values, and overall approach.

Do their personalities and working styles mesh well with your team's? Can you envision forming a productive and trusting partnership with them?

Look for advisors who demonstrate genuine interest in your organization's culture and possess the interpersonal skills to foster smooth collaboration and build rapport with your team.

#4 Seek customization and flexibility

One-size-fits-all solutions rarely thrive in the complex world of CLM implementation. Opt for advisors who offer adaptable services and tailor their approach to your needs and context. They should be able to customize their roadmaps, methodologies, and training programs to seamlessly integrate into your existing processes and address your unique challenges.

Choose an advisor who embraces flexibility and can adjust their approach as your CLM system matures and your organization evolves.

#5 Engage your prospects in meaningful communications

Reputable advisory partners, like Lex, typically offer free consultation sessions. Ensure you maximize this opportunity to ask questions about your potential advisory partner’s methodology, team expertise, and approach to change management.

Observe their communication style, responsiveness, and ability to actively listen and address your concerns.

Accelerating success with Lex by SpotDraft

Lex is a suite of professional services designed by SpotDraft to help busy legal professionals hit and exceed their productivity goals. This service provides access to over 100 seasoned legal experts vetted and equipped to be an extension of your legal department, tackling all your routine and non-routine legal processes on demand.

Users of this service have saved 30 hours per week, affording the bandwidth for more creative and value-driven aspects of their responsibilities.

While it is a service by SpotDraft, Lex is platform-agnostic. This means that users of the service do not need to use SpotDraft CLM.

Through Lex, you can get access to advisory services in various aspects of legal processes.

Thus, if you need help with CLM vendor selection, implementation, transition, training, playbooks and template creation, and more, you can get assisted by the service.

Alongside CLM advisory and implementation services, Lex offers assistance with the following:

  • Contract creation
  • Negotiation and execution
  • Contract extraction and centralization
  • CLM and contract administration
  • Legal research, and more.

If you’d like to see a full list of services, click here.

Have questions? Click here to book a free consultation session with a representative.

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