Practical CLM 2023: Breaking the change management impasse

Impressed by the flashy demos and marketing teasers of a CLM vendor, the General Counsel of a well-known conglomerate tried to impose the CLM on the company by a mandate. The expectation was that the tool will completely revolutionize their contracting process. But instead, chaos ensued. Why? Employees weren’t ready to change the processes and technology they have been using for years. None of the significantly affected groups like sales and procurement were represented in the implementation stakeholders’ team, which meant that the day-to-day challenges of many end users weren’t addressed. The project failed quite spectacularly with less than 25% adoption rate throughout its lifetime.

The lesson? Technology is not enough to drive effective transformation on its own, people should be at the heart of change and innovation.

But that’s not exactly news. Experts have been saying this for years now. What’s news is that the journey to successful change management, especially for solutions as complex as CLM, starts at vendor selection as most vendors are unable to offer the much-needed flexibility, which leads to irreversible problems down the road.

Introducing Impact First methodology

To break the change management impasse that is paralyzing CLM implementations, we have embraced the Impact First methodology at smartContract, which gives our clients the flexibility to phase out their CLM implementation path both horizontally and vertically to maximize impact.

It means we will work with our customers in small, iterative cycles to explore and solve challenges from the perspective of multiple stakeholders other than just legal. This enables us to not only deliver quick wins but also drive horizontal impact to get on board diverse CLM champions from across the organization. For example, we might start by first streamlining the contract request intake process – a pain point that affects multiple teams within an organization. Many companies still rely on emails to generate contract requests and legal often complains of being unable to properly manage and document these requests or having to chase the requestor for complete information. At the same time, business users like sales or procurement teams are also irked because there’s often no defined format to provide information for complex contracts.

With smartContract CLM, the contract request intake process can be standardized according to agreement type and the system can even generate the first contract draft if that agreement can be based on a standard template, delighting not only legal but also increasing efficiency for the requestor.

Consequently, we will work with our customers in multiple similar cycles to discover problems and create meaningful impact that compounds to powerful results over the course of implementation.

Why Impact First works

The goal of any internal digital transformation initiative, including a CLM implementation, should not be just to improve employee efficiency but also to empower them with the right tools that make them better at their job. For this, any effort must be preceded by a diagnostic phase and followed through with in-depth input from diverse employees. To digitize or automate specific parts of contracting processes, you can rely on the input of employees who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their day-to-day while navigating through the lifecycles of different contracts.

This is important because certain decisions to improve the overall contract lifecycle might not be part of a legal leader’s comfort zone. Integrations are a great example of this, legal might not know the customer lifecycle well enough to guide the CLM integration with a CRM in a way that’s practical for the sales team.

Under our Impact First methodology, the smartContract CLM solution is adapted to the needs of your organization by creating opportunities for two-way conversations to collect and incorporate input from different stakeholders who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t for their use cases.

Ultimately, this approach gives stakeholders more control over how the digital transformation will unfold and frames a CLM solution that empowers employees to become even better at what they were already great at doing.

This article is a part of smartContract’s Practical CLM 2023 series wherein each chapter will focus on the most prominent challenges with CLM solutions today and how we’ve been able to overcome them for our clients. Watch this space for upcoming articles or drop an email to pnarang@srtekbox.com with the subject “PC23” to be notified.

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