Contract Lifecycle Management Data is Bringing Sexy Back

by Anna Lozynski |
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We generate insights and integrate data into our everyday lives both knowingly and unwittingly. From DNA tests, targeted ads, programmatic media buying, wearable devices (think FITBITs, tech togs, yoga tights, UV patches, smart watches, the OURA ring), to sharing geolocations and our whereabouts on maps.

In the information and digital age, we each leave a potentially insightful sprinkle of data everywhere we go. As do contracts on a contract lifecycle management (“CLM”) system such as Malbek.

Because CLM systems are not “mere” contract repositories, if used to full potential, they can be a key contributor towards an organization’s latest strategic asset class (i.e. data).

Legal departments have traditionally built budgets and communicated their value using what I call defensive data, such as settlement amounts vs litigation costs, outside counsel savings, as well as savings generated from lobbying legislation, amongst others.

In today’s data-driven and ROI-focused business world, I would suggest those defensive reference points are not enough, particularly if your audience is not legally trained.

Dynamic data (and if you’re ready to become a real data geek, predictive data) is what you want.

And that’s what a CLM can, and should, give you.

CLM data should be available to you anytime, anywhere—and Malbek’s self-service platform provides a fully-configurable dashboard that allows you to track the metrics that are most important to you. When you pair that with its built-in artificial intelligence tools, it’s easy for an end-user to extract stats and run analytics in a dynamic fashion.

In my last role as General Counsel, each morning I would start my working day with data, checking the activity on both our CLM (and matter management) systems. Each month, I would carve out time to sift and study the data more fully.

An executive peer once said to me, with a positive tone of surprise, “somehow the legal team has managed to make contracts sexy and exciting”.

We did this by embracing the three C’s of contract lifecycle management:

1. Communication.

As should be of little surprise, the single success measure of innovation is adoption. CLM systems provide so much golden data fodder for regular storytelling: number of users, volume of contracts processed through the system, activity by contract type, and any other relevant ROI metrics that were part of your CLM business case.

Communicate your chosen adoption metrics monthly, quarterly, and annually. Once you’re in Year 2, add in some quarter on quarter, year on year trends.

Showcasing CLM adoption helps inspire the bandwagon effect - the tendency for people to adopt a certain behaviour, style, or attitude simply because everyone else is doing it.

Make the content engaging. Be targeted with your audience, but don’t be afraid to share widely.

2. Collaboration.

Use your CLM platform as an additional way to collaborate with your business colleagues, and in turn, assist them to better serve their customers and suppliers.

Meet with your business colleagues to find out which data points within contracts are important to them and collaborate with your CLM provider to support the flow of that bespoke information — actual, forecast, projected data. Because, as Peter Drucker famously once said, what gets measured, gets managed.

3. Celebration.

Your users are fundamental to the success of your CLM system. They are your champions of change. Create a formal group of these internal champions to socialize and push for CLM adoption. And then, roll out the metaphorical red carpet for them and all of your users from time to time.

Internal awards are great for boosting staff morale and driving motivation. Cheesy can also be fun. The CLM Oscars has a nice ring to it, don’t you think???

In addition, it’s a lovely personalized touch for General Counsel to send a handwritten note and a small ‘thank you’ gift to a colleague who has authored 250/500/1000 contracts. Congratulate that finance professional for consistently e-approving contracts within 24 hours in the last month. You get the gist.

The point is that data from CLMs helps legal teams and the business “see” and therefore more specifically celebrate good contracting behavior.

These 3C’s are not intended to be exhaustive. There are of course many more ways to harness your CLM data and turn it into useful information and insights to drive strategic change.

As companies continue to covet “big data” and spend more and more time in “the cloud” (pun intended) the quest for reliable, informed, and intelligent decision making is becoming the next big “must have”. And that includes Legal.

And that’s why it’s time critical for lawyers to see CLM systems as more than just a digitized way of processing contracts. Rather, it’s a fabulous opportunity to be more business-minded in the way General Counsels run legal functions. To be less defensive and more dynamic in the communication of the department’s value. To diversify their skillset and transformation mindset.
To be more data-driven. And make more data-driven decisions.

The data in CLM systems enables lawyers and legal departments, in meme speak, to talk to business colleagues about contracts without talking to them about contracts.

Contract analytics allow you to enhance business outcomes, streamline and protect the bottom line: tracking milestones in trading relationships, looking for opportunities to shorten negotiation timelines, or utilising clause data to create contract playbooks rooted in real-life negotiations and with a view to minimising the back and forth.

Analytics (done right) should generate insights that bring to life whole new initiatives. "It should change what you do, not just how you do it.” - Matin Movassate Founder and CEO at Heap Analytics.

In other words, being data-focused is being future-focused.

When it comes to harnessing the data in your CLM, be bold, curious, and disruptive.

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