Our webinar series called "Pulling Back the Curtain" has examined many important topics related to the contract lifecycle management buying experience. From the time you identify that you have contract management challenges all the way through to the purchase decision, these CLM webinars can help guide you through this journey. And now, in our fifth webinar installment, we turn our attention to actually selecting a CLM solution and implementation partner. Here are 4 insider tips from our industry experts, Stephanie Corey from UpLevel Ops, Matt Patel from Malbek, and Teju Desphande from Oya Solutions:
Choose a solution that can grow with you
It can be tempting to select the Cadillac of solutions with all the bells and whistles, but that is not necessarily a good idea. Take some advice from the TV show, What Not to Wear, and "dress for the body you have now." When selecting a CLM solution, it is critical to keep the scope of the project focused on the business requirements that prompted the search in the first place. It's all too easy during the demo phase to fall into "scope creep". You'll see amazing features and want all of them. But if you have documented what you need now and what you want for the future, you can keep the project from becoming unwieldy and taking years to accomplish because goals keep shifting. Select a solution that is flexible and can grow with your needs. Evaluating the vendor's product road map will give you some insight into how they understand market trends and whether they can handle complexity as your business evolves.
Select a vendor that is easy to partner with
Beyond product functionality there are other qualities about a vendor that you need to consider. You don't want to choose a CLM solution provider who sells you a product and then walks away. Part of your evaluation needs to include the quality of the vendor's team. Ask yourself things like: Will they be a good partner for years to come? Are they seasoned professionals in both the legal AND technology arenas? Is CLM their main focus or just one of many in the product mix? And lastly, take some time to get to know their culture and philosophy. It will be important that this marries well with how you run your business. For example, if you're an agile shop and operate in sprints, you will want a vendor with a similar approach to avoid friction and misaligned expectations.
Invest in an implementation partner
Implementation is as delicate a process as it is critical, which means it is definitely worth paying the money for the right implementation partner. Invest now! There is no sense selecting the perfect CLM solution only to have the whole project go up in smoke because the implementation was a failure. Many vendors will tell you they can do the implementation themselves, but this comes with risk. You don't want to implement your current process as-is into the CLM tool if the process is not ideal. When internal stakeholders try to articulate business requirements, it's better to have experts review and refine the requirements to align with best practices before you implement it in the CLM tool. You need someone who understands both the business and the application side.
Uncover the smoke and mirrors
The dirty little secret of the software world is that many vendors will demo functionality that doesn’t fully exist yet. Never fear though! There are red flags to look out for which will help you identify those vendors who are actually over promising (and will likely under deliver). First, be wary of any vendor who takes multiple weeks for even setting up the demo. That's a red flag that they are likely going to show you something custom and not already existing in the product, or the fact that their system administration is so complex that it takes weeks to setup for your demo. Second, be wary of any demo that is overly broad. You want the vendor to show both a simple use case but also a peek behind the scenes at how the product is administered and configured since you will want to maintain the solution yourself for years to accommodate your changing business needs. Lastly, be wary if the vendor is unwilling or delays in providing a sandbox trial for you to play with. This probably means that their sandbox environment doesn't exist, is too complicated for short-term use, or its out-of-the-box functionality is not the same as what they demoed. When you buy a pair of shoes, you try them on first. Why would you do anything less with a purchase decision as important as a new CLM solution?