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Alice Alfano

Unlocking CLM: Best Practices from Simplified Academy

We had an amazing time at the first-ever CLM Simplified Academy in NYC. This day-long event explored every aspect of contract lifecycle management and how Legal professionals should approach it. Lucy Bassli, the host of the event, created an engaging and informative experience for everyone – I can’t wait to attend the next one!

There was one point that became abundantly clear through every presentation, panel discussion, and workshop: what you put into a CLM is what you get out.

Don’t be fooled into thinking “garbage in, garbage out” only pertains to migrating contracts. Oh no, the work you put in before even deciding what CLM you want, the work you put in during implementation, and the work you put in to maintain the solution all make the difference. Simply choosing a CLM solution and implementing it with your current (possibly broken) processes, is not enough to achieve the benefits that you aim for.

Pre-Solution Work

Nearly every presenter touched on one single fact: the work you do to unite stakeholders and understand your needs BEFORE even deciding on a CLM can make or break success.

One presenter made a point that stuck with me. He said, “uniting under one cause is one thing but having everyone understand what the other person needs is even more important”. This means that although you may have a completely different idea of what success is from your perspective, compared to what your Finance team envisions, you still have to consider their viewpoint. Instead of waiting until you select a CLM and then trying to make it fit everyone’s goals, have a conversation beforehand to discuss expectations, goals, and success. 

Start by clearly defining the problem that your organization is facing. Identify the pain points and inefficiencies in your current contracting process and the impact of these inefficiencies on your business – missed renewals and opportunities, increased business risk, and compliance woes.

This pre-implementation work lays the foundation for a successful implementation by ensuring that the solution is aligned with the organization’s needs and business objectives. If you are looking for a guide to align stakeholders and understand your needs better, I suggest downloading our “Building the Business Case” eBook to help you in your CLM preparation journey.

During Implementation

The implementation of a CLM solution requires effort, and dedication, to configure the solution, migrate data, and train users.  This effort is critical to ensure that the solution is set up correctly and that users are equipped with the knowledge they need to use it effectively. 

The thing that I learned the most from the panel discussions is that doing everything in your power to keep communication open is key to a smooth and successful implementation. One presenter mentioned how he keeps our implementation team as informed as his team. For example, if you need time to work out what templates you really need, telling both your team and the vendor’s team makes things go a lot smoother. Knowing what is going on helps the vendor support your needs better and may even lead to a solution you didn’t know was possible. 

Post-Implementation

During a lunchtime discussion, someone made an interesting point: the person chosen to champion a CLM project is just as important as the solution itself.  

Upon reflection, I realized how true this statement is. The project spearhead sets the tone for the entire team. If the project spearhead is stressed and unhappy, the rest of the folks on the project will feel dissatisfied too. That’s why making sure to pick the right person is important from the beginning and ensuring they remain informed and motivated.  They are your change agent and can make a difference in terms of user adoption.

All in all, the first-ever CLM Simplified Academy was a wonderful success. We had a great time seeing how the Legal community is approaching CLM and understanding what they feel their worst problems (and best solutions) are. If you are looking for a solution that will make you truly love your CLM, I recommend requesting a Malbek demo. The right CLM makes all the difference and will truly revolutionize your contract lifecycle management experience.