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Why Contract Lifecycle Management Software is Key for Legal Teams

4 min read
Two legal professionals reviewing a contract

The responsibilities today's legal teams shoulder – and the compliance complexities they need to navigate – have never been greater.  

Legal professionals are expected to scan the regulatory horizon, track and monitor proposed legislation and updates, and map these to the business's compliance obligations. With every regulation passed or modified, they need to understand where the company may be exposed to risk and update and amend contracts accordingly.  

That's no easy task when there are hundreds or thousands of contracts and other supporting legal documents to consider, some of which may be years old and in non-digital formats. In many organizations, legal teams do all this and more with fewer resources than ever. 

The key to success is transforming legal processes and becoming more data-driven using contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology. The right solution can empower legal teams to gain a clear line of sight into obligations and risks so they can swiftly review and amend all relevant contracts through connected internal workflows. This puts them in a position to move at the speed of the business without introducing compliance gaps.  

CLM Software for Controlled Acceleration 

Modern CLM software can be compared to a professional driving coach. The instructor helps the driver better cope with demanding road situations and make safer, more intelligent decisions.  

With the coach's guidance, drivers will better understand when it's safe to accelerate and when to brake or downshift, depending on the driving conditions. They're taught the importance of driving defensively, staying vigilant, and anticipating potential hazards such as traffic congestion, changing weather conditions, a sharp bend, an obstruction in the road, or other vehicles trying to pass them.  

The coach will also encourage the driver to avoid unsafe behaviors like hard braking or cornering, tailgating, distracted driving, or excessive acceleration. 

In the same way, CLM solutions allow legal teams to travel the compliance superhighway speedily, confidently, yet prudently. As they accelerate, they have peace of mind that the correct controls and guardrails are in place to prevent them from taking on any undue legal or contractual risk. 

Under the Hood of Modern CLM Solutions 

We recently sat down with Lisa Bloomberg, Principal Director, Digital Risk & Compliance at Accenture, to discuss a few scenarios that illustrate the scope and use cases for CLM technology in the legal realm. 

A Modern Legal Front Door 

Legal departments provide services and advice to the entire company. Too often, there's a lack of formal processes to govern the intake and prioritization of these requests. Ms. Bloomberg explains that CLM software introduces structure and visibility to an organization's "legal front door."  

"CLM technology streamlines the interaction between in-house counsel and its various internal stakeholders and allows legal teams to track what requests come in and from where. With a clear view of their project pipeline, they can become more agile in how they resource requests."  

A Digital Paper Trail 

CLM platforms keep the entire "family tree" of legal documents associated with individual and related accounts, such as NDAs, SOWs, MSAs, and SLAs, in a central repository. 

The system also records all amendments made to each document over time. Information about what was contractually agreed to and what's changed over time is available at your fingertips. Access to accurate contract information results in better decisions, fewer mistakes, more peace of mind, and ultimately less stress for all stakeholders. 

Standard and Aligned Legal Terminology 

CLM technology introduces more rigor and standardization when using specific legal language. For example, in the contracting space, if a counterparty requests a modification to an indemnification clause that is contrary to your company's standard or preferred provisions, the system will automatically flag it.  

According to Ms. Bloomberg, this functionality drives greater alignment among all contracting parties over time. "You might notice that certain legal clauses are marked up by counterparties frequently," she explains. "You can analyze these patterns and, where appropriate, adjust your template or your standard or fallback terms and provisions." 

Contract Remediation for Significant Regulatory Events 

Ms. Bloomberg adds that CLM solutions' intelligent data ingestion capabilities are also helpful should significant regulatory events arise that necessitate a change to contracts' language and/or conditions; for example, there's an update to GDPR data privacy rules or one of the contracting parties is involved in a merger, acquisition, or divestiture.  

The best CLM solutions will: 

  • Automatically extract legal obligations flowing from regulatory events.  
  • Review all your contracts (yes, even legacy, paper-based ones!) and flag those that require remediation based on the nature of the regulatory event. 
  • Assign associated risk levels and parameters the event introduces for various contracts. 
  • Extract critical terms and metadata from contracts, identify what clauses need to be updated, and repopulate the relevant sections with your standard, preferred, and fallback legal terms, as required. 

To ensure 360-degree compliance, the CLM platform will also identify any related policies and procedures that need to be updated in light of the regulatory event. 

Connected, Intelligent Workflows  

In some organizations, contracts are stored in multiple locations across the business – on individuals' devices, in physical filing cabinets, or even in archived vaults. Suppose a contract needs to be referenced or updated. In that case, it must be manually searched for, edited, and sent back and forth between stakeholders as an email attachment for review and approval.  

Ms. Bloomberg explains how modern digital tools like Conga CLM automate manual effort in crafting, locating, and amending contracts, significantly reducing cycle time. "Workflow tools embedded in the platform can be connected to other enterprise workflow systems, so required actions are routed to the right resource, in the right geography and language, with the right data, at the right time. With e-signature functionality, the updated contract can be sent directly from the platform to internal stakeholders and external counterparties for review and sign-off." 

Throughout the process, the progress of the contract update is tracked so everyone knows the current status.  

Ready to Shift Your CLM into High Gear? 

Legal leaders are under tremendous pressure, but the right CLM platform can act as a release valve. 

Accenture and Conga have helped hundreds of clients accelerate their CLM ambitions by combining Accenture's deep transformational expertise with Conga's market-leading technology.  

With solutions designed with speed, efficiency, and risk mitigation in mind, we help legal teams master contract execution, stay compliant, and prepare for the next regulatory change without slowing the business down.  

Book a demo to learn how Conga CLM can help you reduce risk, improve processes, and take control of your contracts.   


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