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When done well, Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) can significantly increase productivity and lower costs. However, if handled poorly, it can just as easily cause serious delays and open you up to quite a bit of risk.The key to speeding up your contract lifecycle management is knowing where to start. And let’s start!
Store All Your Contracts in One Place
If your organization’s contracts are spread out across multiple systems, blocked by permissions, or buried among earlier versions, you’re invariably bound to run into delays.One of the biggest pain points in contract lifecycle management is lack of visibility. Everyone within an organization tends to go directly to the legal department for every query related to contracts. But your in-house legal department doesn’t necessarily own the contract or even have easy access to it. Not only does this cause serious delays whenever a question arises, but it also puts the company at risk of not complying with obligations defined in a contract. Legal departments cannot provide advice about a contract they cannot access.You can easily solve this issue with a good contract lifecycle management software that keeps every contract (and all previous versions) in one easy-to-access place. When necessary, you can also use the software to set up user groups and assign security permissions for individual contracts or accounts.
Define a Process for All Contracts
In many organizations, people submit documents to legal and it feels as if it fell into a black hole. Nobody confirms receipt, provides updates, or lets anyone know when the work will be completed. Not only does this lead to immense frustration, but it also slows down the process. Every time someone pings the legal department for an update, the employees waste time responding to the same status update inquiries.Avoid headaches and delays by building a process that clearly outlines each step in the contract lifecycle, helping provide transparency for everyone involved. By creating workflows for new contract requests or changes to an existing contract, for instance, each team member can view the steps within a specific workflow and is aware of everything that occurs from start to finish. They can even see where the contract is within the workflow at any given time.
Build Contracts Smarter Through Automation
Chances are, if you are writing a certain kind of contract once, you’ll most probably have to do it again. Save yourself time and effort by automating parts of the contract creation process.With the right contract lifecycle management software, you can create templates / playbooks for different contracts to minimize back and forth communication. For instance, a template can be created for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that includes three approved sub- templates along with the steps for sending, reviewing, and approving the contract.
Set up Integrations with External Systems
Most corporate contracts require a data transfer to upstream or downstream systems. Without integrations, many corporate legal teams are stuck manually updating records across these multiple systems or relying on their colleagues in other departments to do so, unsure of what information has been updated, in what system, and when. Implementing integration with other software that your organization already uses / external systems can solve this problem. Seamless integrations with spend and matter management, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), or vendor management platforms allow you to push data from CLM software directly to external systems.
At Beveron Technologies LLC, we love data and think it’s one of the most valuable assets for in-house legal teams so it’s no surprise that leveraging data is number 5 on our list. Once you have your contracts centralized, processes defined, metrics outlined, and integrations set up, use the wealth of data you’ve collected to improve your CLM efficiency.Reports from contract lifecycle management software help identify common delays, information silos, and areas in need of improvement. And to help you hit the ground running, look for a contract lifecycle management solution like our Smart Legal Counsel, for instance, that has a variety of customizable and configurable reports, such as a report that details average time spent per contract type (e.g., an NDA contract). This type of report can break the data down by phases, so you can see if a particular team or resource is overloaded and causing delays.
For a corporate legal team looking to build a foundational process to improve efficiency and avoid confusion, contract lifecycle management is one of the top tools in-house teams look to implement. And you can rest assured that you’ll find all your CLM issues addressed with our Smart Legal Counsel’s Contract Management tool.