February 2 by Prashant Dubey

keys to successful Contract Management Implementations

Part 2: Launching Your CLM Project

“Mastering Contract Lifecycle Management” is a 15 part, bi-weekly series writen by Prashant Dubey, CEO of The Sumati Group, 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!

Keys to a Successful CLM Implementation: Things Drake Said


The melody is just as poignant as the lyrics. Canadian Rapper/R&B musician Drake is influencing an entire generation with his music. He prides himself on no tattoos and being “different than the other rappers.” Well, I’m not sure how many CLM implementation champions have tattoos, but the successful ones, like Drake, are different from the other implementers of corporate initiatives.

Over the past almost decade I have had the opportunity to observe Contract Management implementation success and tragic failures. The guidance below is not an entire “success playbook,” but seems to be present in almost every successful CLM implementation. So, let me invoke Mr. Toronto in sharing these (observed) keys to success with you.

Drake's quotes as a Metaphor for Contract Management Implementation
“Where you movin’? I said onto better things”

A key element of CLM success is to clearly articulate to the organization what success looks like. Success is something that is a place different from…and better than…where the organization is today.

Whether that is faster contracting cycle times, or faster time to revenue, or greater compliance with regulators or recovering lost revenue and expense, the destination needs to be clearly articulated and it needs to be re-iterated throughout the CLM implementation. It’s motivating and focusing to ensure everyone is striving to get to the same destination.

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.”

Yes, the destination is important, but the CLM process transformation journey is that much more important. The journey identifies the current state so the organization can come to terms with key contracting challenges and the associated business impact. As the journey toward CLM success progresses, the organization learns things like what to “keep, start and stop” (no, everything isn’t broken).

They see how incremental improvements can make a huge difference – such as a NDA clearinghouse that makes it simple to engage counterparties, a high integrity contract repository that enables proper management of obligations and decreases the anxiety of the audit committee, or contract templates that, when standardized and incorporating provisions that reflect the most negotiated language in an end-state agreement, reduce negotiation intensity and let attorneys and others go home to their families at a reasonable hour.

Successful CLM implementations identify wins during the journey, highlight teachable moments, publicize these learning’s throughout the organization. This demonstrates that the CLM journey yields benefits on the way to the destination.

“Surface R&B doesn’t work any more. The whole heartthrob thing, songs about unrealistic love and tearing your shirt off every show – that’s not really where it’s at any more.”

Another key to success in CLM implementations is to ensure a sense of pragmatism. CLM initiatives that are over-hyped and strive to attain huge gains really fast, tend to disappoint. Instead, break it down to the concrete elements and realistic timelines.

No, you cannot roll out 30 contract types and 10 lines of business in 6 months. There is no big green button. There IS change management required. Iteration trumps big bang. Collaborate and control works – command and control does not. These are all pragmatic and realistic elements of an implementation. CLM implementation champions that are grounded in pragmatism tend to create successes.

“I’m actually a very honest person, and sometimes I end up like, ‘Man, I said too much.’ It’s hard for me not to tell the truth when you ask me.”

Call it like you see it. CLM champions that find issues are not afraid to bring them up. You need a champion who is willing to take risks by being a truth-teller. Sometimes you need to speak truth to power. Yes, sometimes the SVP of Compliance is the issue. She needs to know if she is creating process blocks (maybe inadvertently) and she needs to participate in the process.

If your contract repository is non-existent and you know it will be a yeoman’s job to properly organize contract documents into parent/child relationships with clear counter-party mapping, and metadata needs to be extracted and attributed to these contract documents…and it will be a costly effort….you need to say something. Managing obligations through a high integrity repository is the foundation of any contract management initiative. If key stakeholders find a repository plebian and would rather focus on the ‘sexier’ items like workflow, you need to speak truth and tell them they are wrong (diplomatically of course).

“To go indie is a thing. But to put an album in the stores, you need a distribution label.”

Every CLM implementation needs a champion. The General Counsel is an obvious one. Their imprimatur is the distribution label for the initiative. The CLM initiative may start off in a sandbox and do the “indie” circuit. However, eventually, there needs to be an organizational push to spread it out throughout the enterprise. Identifying and cultivating this distribution label early is key to CLM implementation success.

Then there’s this…

“I like sweaters. I have a sweater obsession, I guess.”

O.k. then Drake…

Be sure to check back on February 16th for the next edition of “Mastering Contract Lifecycle Management” series to learn the 10 KPIs needed in every contract management process.

To learn more the keys to launching a Contract Management project, 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.

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