The buy-side and sell-side of contract lifecycle management (CLM)
Part of the ForeFront CLM insight series
There is significant power in digitizing an organization’s contracting abilities through contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions. The goal? Harness this potential to reduce time-to-sale, increase compliance governance, mitigate risks, and capture obligations made during the purchasing (buy-side) and sales (sell-side) processes. Simply put, there is a huge demand for a single-platform approach to managing contracts across buy- and sell-sides. However, there are often challenges in bringing these theoretical solutions into functional realities. The market supply of guidance or expertise for single-platform solutions falls seemingly short.
Since identifying the demand for middle office technology and digital transformation expertise and discovering Conga's game-changing CLM technology roughly a decade ago, ForeFront has made contract lifecycle management a core focus of our business, Though we work with each client to leverage the best technology to fit their needs, Conga remains a market leader for CLM.
Below, we will share insights for business leaders when evaluating and implementing an enterprise-wide CLM solution. These insights include key questions to answer, risks to mitigate, and chances to optimize business processes.
Buy-side and sell-side: sharing one platform
Should an organization implement buy-side and sell-side contracts within the same environment?
Ultimately, this is a business decision based on a broad number of factors and considerations. Our belief is that too many businesses and implementers automatically separate the buy-and-sell-sides into two different implementations and instances, based on the disparate functions and goals. ForeFront, however, has had tremendous success bridging the gap to implement cohesively and simultaneously.
The first step in our approach to any project is to understand before advising. When a potential client is considering a shared platform for buy-side and sell-side, we ask them to consider the following questions:
- Does your organization’s sell-side and buy-side share legal or administrative resources?
- Is there a desire to reduce the number of legal variations for the same/similar clauses? Would reducing the variations, particularly for a global multi-lingual organization, allow for reduced organizational risk and increased alignment?
- Would your CLM solution need to integrate with similar upstream (e.g. CRM or Master Data Management [MDM]) or downstream (e.g. accounting and finance [ERP]) systems?
- Is there the potential to access multiple budgets simultaneously to defray a team’s cost for the implementation?
- If a single business unit is implemented first, will their business requirements account for the needs of the following business unit?
Buy-side and sell-side: more about business rules than technology
What about the other considerations of simultaneous implementations?
You may have noted that considerations we did NOT include pertained to security, processes, and approvals. This is because with strong CLM solutions, these become business decisions and not technology considerations. ForeFront has expertise in helping organizations navigate the difficult business decisions that come with simultaneously implementing sell-side and buy-side CLM solutions. Questions that arise during this process include:
- Which users should have access to specific accounts, opportunities, and/or contracts?
- Should third-party contracts leverage the existing processes or have their own?
- How can an organization’s contracting process be streamlined to adhere to industry best practices and thereby reduce time-to-sale, increase sales efficiency, and mitigate corporate risks?
- What type of administrative activities can be removed from the process to allow the sales, legal, and procurement teams to focus on the work they were hired to do?
- What is the appropriate structure for approving contracts so that the right controls are in place, but not administratively burdensome?
Buy-side and sell-side: obtaining alignment
What is the most important consideration before beginning a CLM implementation?
Leadership. Regardless of whether your organization decides to go with a simultaneous or single business unit focused approach, the vision and value must be set from the top. If your organization does decide to implement buy-side and sell-side simultaneously, then the vision of multiple business units must be, and remain, aligned.
With sell-side’s focus on time-to-sale and buy-side’s focus on protecting assets, there will be instances when a standstill could seemingly occur. This is where strong organizational and cross-functional leadership, coupled with guidance on best practices, will need to play a role in ensuring an implementation’s success.
A shared buy-side and sell-side approach is achievable and recommended, with the correct leadership, considerations, and approach. Contract management is complex and ready for disruption. Our clients benefit from an integrated solution that highlights missed revenue opportunities and streamlined costs.
Over the coming weeks, we will be releasing a series on contract management to share best practices and considerations for business leaders. ForeFront is uniquely prepared to help with our CLM know-how—get in touch with our experts today!