January 20 by Prashant Dubey
Part 2: Launching Your CLM Project
“Mastering Contract Lifecycle Management” is a 15 part, bi-weekly series dedicated to expanding your mastery of Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM). The series is divided into 5 parts and encompasses the entire lifecycle of purchasing a CLM solution, including: the research phase, launching your CLM project, implementing the key building blocks, strategies for driving user adoption, and continuing down the road to success. Enjoy!
6 Keys to Launching a Contract Management Project
“You can put wings on a pig, but you don’t make it an eagle”
When it comes to CLM initiative change management, hope is not a change management strategy. This quote, from the former president from Hope, Arkansas is relevant when we think about how to actually introduce change into the process of contract management.
Here’s the good news. Despite Contract Management as an enterprise initiative being a relatively nascent industry (far from saturation), there have been enough implementation experiences such that effective change management practices are being more broadly socialized. One can rely on hope –in the sense of optimism- if placed upon a solid strategic foundation of a change management plan
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
It is important to remember that people are at the center of change management. When a new initiative is launched you are fundamentally changing the conditions around humans with habits, patterns, and opinions which must be intentionally managed. Realizing that among a group of affected people will be segments of resistance at differing levels. Some people are faster to get on board and adopt and lead the change, and others will be holdouts. Acknowledging this is the first step to achieving success in a transition to a successful CLM program.
“The claim of consensus is the first refuge of scoundrels”
If a CLM implementation team claims consensus on an issue but there are still whispers, then “there is a there-there.” In other words, if consensus is claimed to merely avoid debate, then there will inevitably be turmoil. Solution: make sure in a CLM change management exercise that there is a clean way to assign decision rights on certain topics. For example, what is the source of truth for certain metadata? The vendor master in the AP system or the counterparty as identified in contract documents? Don’t assume consensus – force a decision and have someone own it.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The wisdom spread by this man is hard to match. I fear making it plebian by applying it to contract management. Iterative change management is key in a contract management initiative. There may be a full journey planned, but once an initiative is launched, do not fear making agile adjustments. You can only see one step at a time, so take only one step at a time and eventually you will climb the staircase. If your users find that automating the MSA is creating havoc, pull back and just put a NDA clearinghouse in place. That’s a quick win and you have tested the environment and realize that it’s not ready for a MSA shift – yet. However, everyone would like to make executing NDA’s a less tortured process. This agility will make the change more palatable to users since they will feel listened to.
“Des Teufels liebstes Möbelstück ist die lange Bank”
The devil’s favorite piece of furniture is the long bench. As with many things, it takes the Germans to drive a point home. Procrastination is the Achilles heel of a CLM change management initiative. Putting off creating a high integrity contract repository because…it’s hard…can lead a CLM initiative to a screeching halt. Enabling users to quickly find contract documents and know if an obligation to a counter-party is active or expired makes the pain of front end workflow changes more palatable. This is widely known amongst veteran CLM implementers, but is a lesson still being learned by first timers.
Another area that is often put off is thinking about post-implementation operational support. Licensing CLM software and initial implementation is just a start. Now, users will need to pull a rip-cord when they are stuck, so a user support function is critical and agile changes to configurations and creation of new contract templates will be on-going needs. Putting this in place right away is one of the best CLM change management strategies one can employ.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
A CLM implementation and the associated program is not an elixir. It is also not meant to change everything about contracting practices. In fact, the company has functioned day in and day out without this CLM initiative, albeit not as efficiently. As such, making sure that you recognize that things that work should stay, is a key strategy to ensure that change is accepted by those participating in the process. Respecting the legacy and wisdom of the stakeholders who have been operating the company to date is critical to a change management initiative.
Finally, normalizing CLM change and saying that its’ not a big deal and should be accepted by everyone because it will make the company great, is not reality. The change is big and it will create tumult. Empathy is key in the change management strategy – without that, a revolt is likely – and no one likes rebellious contract provisions!
Be sure to check back on February 3rd for the next edition of “Mastering Contract Lifecycle Management” series to learn the keys to successfully implement a CLM tool.
To learn more about how to choose a Contract Management Vendor, visit the previous post – HERE.
The “Mastering Contract Lifecycle Management” series is written by Prashant Dubey, bestselling author of The Generalist Counsel and CEO of The Sumati Group, which is the Apttus premier contract migration partner.