November 7 by Jon Aren't Draper
“Laissez les bons temps rouler.” The good times certainly rolled in New Orleans at the ACC Annual Meeting last week. As you’d expect of a conference in New Orleans there was a lot of great food and creative cocktails (and that was just in the exhibitor’s hall). Giving away Fitbits to the attendees that walked the most each day was Apttus’ way of balancing out all of the temptations of the conference.
Aside from a great opportunity to network with corporate counsel peers and the vendors that support law departments, this year’s conference offered an agenda that included tracks specifically dedicated to cybsersecurity, contract management and compliance, among the standard fare.
One of the sessions that caught my eye, and the eyes of over 400 other attendees, was “Redesigning CLM in an Era of Lean Law Departments”. Among the panelists was a corporate counsel from VMWare discussing how they’ve boosted the efficiency of managing the entire contract lifecycle – from creation through negotiation, execution, amendment and renewal – using a contract lifecycle management system.
In an era in which business is reaching all ends of the globe, Legal departments are being asked to do more than ever before, often with limited resources. This problem is exacerbated when companies lack strong processes to manage the large number of contracts. Companies without an automated CLM solution often struggle with compliance errors, stagnated contract cycles, limited process control, minimal risk management and no contract performance visibility. The results are missed obligations, unachieved negotiated terms, reduced revenues, and increased costs.
One of the solutions discussed was automated playbooks as a way to eliminate manual steps and maximize the value, time and experience of in-house counsel. A legal playbook is an collection of rules and policies and clause library to provide guidance to contract managers as they assemble contracts. Many senior contract managers will have this playbook memorized, pulling out individual clauses based on specific parameters. Instead of having contract managers pick out clauses manually, which is both time consuming and error prone, you can automate the process based on conditional rules and stored metadata, saving both time and ensuring 100% accuracy.
Another practical tip on contract management systems included using the clause library with conditional logic to add the words “intentionally removed” in place of language dynamically removed during contract generation to alert the contract manager that language was intentionally deleted rather than inadvertently omitted.
The fundamental message during the session and throughout the entire conference urged Legal departments to stay ahead of the technology curve. From exploring the basics of cloud technology to negotiating cloud contracts and understanding data privacy and compliance issues. Doing more with less is a common theme among legal conferences, but ACC delivered sessions that offered real-world solutions for law departments looking to stay competitive and compliant in a fast-paced and lean world.
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