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Proven ways to avoid CLM buyer’s remorse

Jan 30, 2024 | Admin, Implementation Services, Latest News

Ever find yourself wondering if your CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management) is the organizational GOAT you hoped for, swooping in to bring order and sanity to your once chaotic contract processes? 

Maybe it’s living up to expectations, making contract creation a breeze and saving you from contract management headaches. But what if you’re part of the 50 percent crew whose CLM implementations didn’t quite hit the mark? 

If the phrase “This is just what we needed.” sounds more like “Is this what we signed up for?” it’s not too late to make every minute and penny you invested worthwhile with three steps: Investigate. Evaluate. Prepare. Here’s how.  



The “Investigate” phase aims to comprehensively grasp your CLM journey, from the initial CLM sales cycle to your current CLM utilization. At this stage, the focus is solely on acquiring a precise overview of the path taken without delving into the reasons behind it. There’s no need for diagnosis; the goal is to understand the “what,” not the “why” at this point.

Within this phase, there are three areas to explore: The CLM Business Case, the Purchasing Process, and the Current CLM Personas. 


1. Examine the CLM Business Case

What did you hope to achieve with CLM?

Each organization adopts CLM for distinct and compelling reasons. Some prioritize risk reduction, others emphasize speed to signature, and some are driven by the desire for AI-enabled business intelligence. It’s crucial to revisit these reasons, or business cases, and assess them. For instance, what were your company’s original goals when implementing CLM?

If your goals were unclear or poorly defined, this process can help unveil that and refine your goals.


2. The Purchasing Process

To understand your position comprehensively, trace the journey leading up to this point, beginning with the pre-CLM era. Who was involved? What were their roles within the organization and in the purchasing process?

Remember, the decision to invest in CLM wasn’t taken lightly. Reflect on the original motivation that drove it. 


3. Consider Current CLM Personas

The key to this stage is to capture current CLM use through the perspective of CLM personas, such as account executives, sales ops members, contract ops members, legal team members, executives, etc. What goals and expectations do they have of CLM? How does CLM help them do their jobs? This insight will help provide a detailed profile of your CLM system and your users’ relationships with that system.



In the “Evaluate” phase, the focus shifts to understanding the “whys” of CLM. Why are you not achieving your goals? Why is satisfaction lower? 

This stage is frequently the most challenging of the three, as it demands a profound comprehension of CLM, user experience principles, and best practices in CLM. 

Numerous organizations enlist the help of System Integrators (SIs) and consultants during this phase to help evaluate satisfaction levels and determine the root cause of unmet expectations as they pertain to the original goals. Then they can provide recommendations on better aligning expectations with CLM performance. 

Many factors could contribute to your CLM needing to meet expectations. Some reasons might be straightforward and tactical (such as minor adjustments required for a workflow step). 

In contrast, others could be more intricate and strategic (like substantial improvements in how we support users and the CLM platform itself). It’s crucial to delve into the genuine root causes of your issues, as they might involve multiple layers.

Once you understand the issues and why they occur, you can explore the impact of these recommendations to determine how best to address the root cause issues of your CLM system. What risks are involved? 



At this point, you will thoroughly understand your CLM history by identifying strengths and areas for improvement and identifying the actionable steps to enhance your CLM system. This phase involves preparing for the implementation of these changes by confirming the scope, a deployment strategy, the time frame, recruiting expert resources, and when to launch kick-off. Let’s touch on each point: 


Confirm Scope.

Verify the issues you intend to tackle.

During the evaluation, you identified various root problems, ranging from minor adjustments to more substantial efforts. It’s time to determine which items are worth addressing and which might be better left untouched. Then, assign value, effort, and risk scores to each item. 

Finally, prioritize items that score high in value and low in effort and risk. Regardless of your approach, ensure a clear understanding of what falls within the scope.


Confirm Deployment Approach.

Validate your development, test, and deployment strategy. 

Once you’ve established the scope, determine an approach for developing and implementing the identified changes and enhancements. Smaller, less risky improvements can be integrated into production as development and testing are completed. At the same time, changes requiring a strategic reevaluation of your overall CLM approach may necessitate a more extensive and involved process.

This step will likely be smoother if your organization already has a well-established DevOps process. I recommend adhering as closely as possible to that process and adjusting to accommodate CLM. 

For organizations without a DevOps process, consider collaborating with a System Integrator (SI) to guide you through best practices, maximizing your speed to value and minimizing risks.


Confirm Timeframe.

Establish an ambitious yet realistic timeframe.

Determine a timeline for implementing all essential improvements. If your organization follows a “sprints” model, consider estimating the sprints required to implement all changes. Alternatively, if a more comprehensive “project-based” approach is necessary, provide estimates for the project’s development, testing, deployment, and go-live phases.


Identify Resources.

Determine who needs to be involved and at what level.

When identifying resources, identify who will play the following roles. A single person may take on multiple roles.

  • Owner: ultimately responsible for the success of the effort.
  • Manager: orchestrates the other team members, keeping everyone on track, on time, and within budget.
  • Business Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): provide insight on their use of CLM and can provide clarification and direction where needed to assist developers.
  • Developers: do the actual configuration and development of CLM to implement the required improvements.
  • Testers: test implemented changes to ensure they meet requirements.
  • Administrators: responsible for owning the CLM system; assist users where needed and can act as a conduit between SMEs and developers.


Collaborate with a Seasoned Systems integrator.

A proficient systems integrator brings invaluable expertise derived from hands-on experience, understanding what works effectively, identifying pitfalls, recognizing CLM best practices, and being familiar with the product roadmap of your specific CLM vendor. 

Many SIs offer tailored solutions to execute the outlined steps and realign your CLM efforts. While the upfront cost of engaging an SI may appear higher, the investment proves worthwhile if it can expedite and enhance your CLM more efficiently.



With all the phases behind you, it’s time to kick off! Communicate to all stakeholders the importance of their efforts and get them excited about a revitalized CLM that can make their lives easier.

Your CLM system should offer strategic advantages to company operations, like expedited time to signature, reduced risk, enhanced transparency, and a generally smoother contracting process. 

If you sense that your CLM falls short, investing time to identify the reasons and unlock the potential value of CLM is highly worthwhile. Implement the following three phases in your CLM enhancement endeavors:

  • Investigate
  • Evaluate
  • Prepare

By undertaking these steps this year, you can usher in the new year with a revitalized and improved CLM.

For more tips on all things CLM, check out my free newsletter CLM Corner for experience-based insight on ways you optimize your CLM investment. 



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