It’s always a good idea to start with a plan, but with contracts being so critical to company performance and success, it’s even more important. Soliciting the help of professional services, either from your CLM vendor or a partner that knows how to implement their solution, can help you prioritize and plan more effectively. They’ve done this dozens (or hundreds) of times, and that experience matters.
First, you'll want to get a deeper understanding of the current state of CLM in your organization. You'll need to capture in detail the process, documents, stakeholders, roadblocks, frustrations, workarounds, and everything else. This will help you identify improvements and opportunities, but also what's required to reach your goals, and where the biggest bang for your buck might be.
Knowing your starting point helps you develop your vision for the future. That vision might include faster contract cycles, shorter approval times, or more standard contract language. Whatever the desired end state, defining your starting point lets you figure out how to get there.
Next, you’ll want to determine how to measure your progress by developing metrics that matter to stakeholders. These can be quantitative, such as the average time required for contract creation, or qualitative, such as a 1 to 5 rating from sales reps on the ease of creating new contracts. You should establish metrics and measure your current state now, then track them continuously during and after your CLM project, both to identify roadblocks and to quantify and celebrate accomplishments.
Speaking of stakeholders, successful CLM projects always have an executive champion. This person will be the vocal supporter of the project to other executives, influencing them to devote resources and add their support. The champion should also be passionate about the CLM initiative, knowledgeable about the current process, confident in the achievable results, and effective in their leadership of company-wide adoption.
When planning the project’s starting point and milestones, it’s best to start small, aim for early wins, and then grow. Be thoughtful as to which types of contracts you tackle first, such as sales or procurement contracts. That defines which departments will be involved. You can improve your outcome by narrowing your scope and working with enthusiastic teams to garner the early wins while working through any hiccups. This allows helps you gain momentum and identify CLM champions within your organization.
Other things to consider are what will and won’t be impacted by your project and any “must have” and “won’t do” aspects. You'll then want to start thinking about the details, like how contracts will be requested, how variations are to be handled, and approval processes. Also consider things like electronic signatures, where documents will be stored and who will have access, how metrics will be tracked, where systems integrations will be required, and how existing contracts and related data and documents will be migrated to the new CLM solution.