Evolving demands of the modern business environment necessitate a move toward more sophisticated solutions like contract lifecycle management.
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Beyond Simple Storage: The Imperative Shift to Contract Lifecycle Management


Ed Breault

September 7, 2023


As businesses globally recognize the importance of data-driven decision-making, the way we manage contracts has taken a paramount position. While digital storage solutions like Dropbox, OneDrive, SharePoint, and even simple contract tools   have provided a temporary respite from physical storage, the evolving demands of the modern business environment necessitate a move toward more sophisticated solutions like contract lifecycle management. When industry authorities like Gartner and the Association of Corporate Counsel highlight the rise and significance of CLM, organizations should take note.

The Limitations of Basic Contract Storage

Large corporations who utilize basic digital storage solutions for contracts are not harnessing the full potential of their contracts due to inherent limitations:

  1. No Lifecycle Oversight: Contracts navigate through multiple phases. Basic solutions don’t offer comprehensive lifecycle tracking and often lack robust version control. Without version control, it becomes challenging to know which is the latest iteration of a contract, leading to confusion and potential errors in business dealings.

  2. Subpar Collaboration Features: Though some platforms support sharing, they lack real-time collaboration, workflow approvals, or systematic notifications. With basic storage, the review and approval processes are often manual, involving printing, signing, and scanning documents. This not only consumes valuable time but also increases the risk of errors.

  3. Questionable Security Protocols: Contracts are sensitive. As per the ACC, a rising number of contractual breaches occur due to inadequate digital security measures. Ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive contracts can be challenging with basic storage systems. Not to mention, robust backup and disaster recovery solutions are often missed in basic storage setups. This leaves contracts vulnerable to data loss and unauthorized changes.

  4. Inability to Scale: As businesses grow, their contract management needs become more complex. Basic storage solutions may struggle to scale effectively. Simply finding contracts and reporting on them can lead to bottlenecks and inefficiencies when handling a higher volume of contracts.

Now, let’s delve into some sobering realities, as the hidden risks and financial costs of basic contract management are real. Contracts, at their core, aren't just pieces of paper or digital files. They embody commitments, timelines, and expectations; in essence, they're the bloodline of most business operations. As such, relying solely on basic file storage solutions or rudimentary contract management tools not only dilutes the power these contracts wield but also opens businesses to significant risk and potential financial losses. Let's delve deeper into the pitfalls of basic solutions and the imperatives for sophisticated contract lifecycle management.

Loss of Operational Visibility:

  • Basic File Storage's Shortcoming: Such systems allow for the storage of contracts, but they lack intricate search and categorization functionalities. Over time, as the number of contracts increases, businesses face the daunting challenge of locating specific clauses, commitments, or renewal terms.
  • Financial Impact: According to Gartner, businesses that lack efficient contract tracking capabilities can see a 10% leakage in contract value, primarily due to untracked obligations and unrealized benefits.

Missed Obligations and Renewals:

  • Basic Tools' Shortcoming: A rudimentary tool might allow for reminders but won't provide advanced alerts based on contract importance, priority, or monetary value.
  • Financial Impact: Missing out on renewal opportunities or failing to meet contractual obligations can result in penalties and lost revenue. An ACC report cites those businesses, on average, lose out on 5-9% of their contract's value due to missed renewals and obligations.

Inadequate Compliance Oversight:

  • Basic File Storage's Shortcoming: While you can store contracts, there's no provision to cross-check these against evolving compliance regulations and industry norms.
  • Financial Impact: Non-compliance doesn't just expose businesses to legal repercussions. The ACC points out that businesses without robust compliance tools are liable to face financial penalties that average 3% of their annual revenues.

Limited Collaboration and Access Control:

  • Basic Tools' Shortcoming: Basic contract management systems often lack detailed role-based access and collaboration tools. This means contracts can be accessed, altered, or shared without a comprehensive audit trail.
  • Financial Impact: Unauthorized access or unintentional sharing can lead to breaches of confidentiality. Gartner estimates that 20% of all contract-related disputes arise from unauthorized changes or access.

Absence of Analytical Insights:

  • Basic File Storage's Shortcoming: These are just storage vaults with no intelligence. They don't offer insights into contract performance, vendor relationships, or potential bottlenecks.
  • Financial Impact: Without these insights, businesses miss out on renegotiation opportunities, potential cost-saving avenues, or even favorable terms that could have been secured. The ACC estimates that businesses with proactive contract analytics can enhance their contract value realization by up to 15%.

Inefficient Processes and Time Overheads:

  • Basic Tools' Shortcoming: With no automation, every step in the contract process, from drafting to approvals, becomes time intensive.
  • Financial Impact: Time is money. Gartner research suggests that the operational inefficiencies stemming from manual contract processes can add up to 20% additional overhead costs

Why CLM is the Superior Choice

ACC stressed the importance of holistic contract management. Here's how CLM outshines basic storage:

  1. Holistic Lifecycle Management: A CLM solution doesn't just store contracts; it oversees them from inception to expiration, ensuring each phase is well-managed.

  2. Incorporation of AI: Gartner predicts that by 2025, over 70% of all CLM solutions will be AI-integrated, speeding up generation, highlighting risks, and optimizing processes.

  3. Enhanced Collaboration Tools: With chat features, structured workflows, and alerts, CLM ensures every stakeholder is in sync.

  4. Robust Security: CLM systems focus on top-tier security measures, from stringent encryption protocols to regular vulnerability assessments.

Recognizing the Need for CLM Transition

How can an organization determine its ripe for CLM adoption? Here are indications, substantiated by Gartner and ACC findings:

  1. Growing Contract Complexity: ACC's survey found that businesses dealing with an international clientele saw a 50% rise in contract complexity over two years.

  2. Missed Commitments: Gartner notes that businesses without CLM are 40% more likely to miss contractual deadlines or renewals.

  3. Stretched Contractual Cycles: If negotiations and approvals take longer, hindering business speed, it's a sign CLM's streamlining capability is needed.

  4. Recurring Compliance Hurdles: A Gartner study revealed that 30% of businesses face challenges adhering to evolving regulations without a dedicated CLM.

Opportunities Unveiled by CLM

Adopting CLM is not just about circumventing challenges but also about capitalizing on opportunities:

  1. Operational Streamlining: Gartner cites businesses with effective CLM solutions reduced their contract approval times by up to 50%.

  2. Mitigating Risks: AI-driven insights can pinpoint potential contractual risks, a feature 70% of businesses are keen on, as per an ACC poll.

  3. Cost Efficiency: Gartner estimates that automating contract processes can save businesses up to 20% of the total contract lifecycle costs in the long haul.

  4. Data-Driven Insights: With comprehensive analytics, businesses can make informed decisions, an advantage 65% of organizations seek, as highlighted by the ACC.

As the business milieu grows more intricate, relying solely on basic digital storage is a recipe for obsolescence. When authorities like Gartner and ACC underscore the urgency of adopting CLM solutions, it's not just advice; it's an industry forecast. Pioneering platforms like Malbek, backed by authoritative insights, validate that the future of contract management is here, and it’s comprehensive, intelligent, and indispensable. Last month alone, Malbek was recognized as Sample Vendor in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Legal and Compliance Technology and the Gartner Hype Cycle for Procurement and Sourcing. If you’re a Gartner client, check out the latest Hype Cycles to see Malbek and contract lifecycle management in the Slope of Enlightenment.



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