6 Lessons to Use in Your CLM Implementation

Whether you’re getting ready for an upcoming CLM implementation or still in the earliest stages of building your CLM business case, these 6 lessons will help you and your organization facilitate a successful implementation and make the most of your selected software.

1. Define Implementation Failure

You’ve no doubt heard about how important it is to set up measurable outcomes to gauge the success of your CLM implementation. But you may not realize that it is also helpful to define what failure could look like. This will allow you to anticipate potential issues and preemptively brainstorm solutions. It will also set the stage for ongoing analysis and improvement throughout the implementation process.

CLM implementation failure looks different for each organization. In general, it refers to the inability to successfully deploy and integrate a CLM system within the organization, resulting in suboptimal performance, inefficiencies, or a complete breakdown of the intended benefits.

Common examples of CLM implementation failure include:

  • Inadequate user adoption. If end-users resist or struggle to adopt the CLM system, it suggests a failure in aligning the solution with their needs or providing sufficient training. Lack of user engagement can severely hinder the system’s effectiveness.
  • Data inconsistencies and errors. Implementation failure may manifest through inaccuracies in data migration or ongoing data management. If the CLM system fails to maintain the integrity of contract data, it could undermine the reliability of the entire system.
  • Missed objectives and requirements. If the implemented CLM system falls short of meeting the defined objectives and requirements, it signifies a failure to align the technology with the organization’s strategic goals.
  • Security breaches and compliance violations. Failure to address security vulnerabilities or comply with industry regulations can lead to data breaches and legal issues, indicating a breakdown in implementation governance.

Defining implementation failure within the confines of the organization sets the groundwork for understanding potential challenges and facilitates the development of strategies to address these issues throughout the CLM deployment process. Mapping to users and defining the CLM outcomes for the whole organization can enable the deployment team to avoid implementation failure.

2. Leverage Consultants

Successful CLM implementation often involves a strategic collaboration between internal teams and external consultants. To navigate this partnership effectively, organizations can follow a few key steps:

  • Identify internal capabilities. Before engaging consultants, assess the strengths and resources within your organization. Understanding what you can handle internally helps in defining the scope of external assistance required.
  • Fill gaps with consultants. Consultants bring specialized knowledge and experience to the table. Identify the gaps in your organization’s internal expertise when it comes to CLM implementation and enlist consultants to provide the necessary skills, whether in technical implementation, change management, or system customization.
  • Combine internal and external experience. The most successful CLM implementations leverage both internal institutional knowledge and external best practices. Try to blend the expertise of internal teams, who understand the organization intimately, with the external consultants’ industry-wide experience.

While consultants contribute to many aspects of the CLM implementation process, it’s important to note that the task of selling the CLM initiative inside the organization should fall to internal teams. Internal stakeholders often respond better to colleagues who understand the organizational dynamics and can communicate the benefits effectively.

By strategically leveraging consultants, organizations can capitalize on a wealth of external knowledge, ensuring a more comprehensive and successful CLM implementation. This collaboration allows internal teams to focus on their strengths while benefiting from external expertise where needed.

3. Focus on Daily Use Cases

While overarching CLM features are important, the success of the system lies in its seamless integration into the everyday workflow of its users. Identify and prioritize the specific challenges and tasks that users face regularly when dealing with contracts. Tailoring the CLM system to address these daily use cases not only enhances user experience but also promotes widespread adoption.

Consider the entire contract lifecycle, from creation and negotiation to approval and renewal, ensuring that the system streamlines these processes rather than complicating them. A user-centric approach encourages engagement, reduces resistance to change, and ultimately contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the CLM implementation.

Regular feedback loops with end-users during the planning and implementation phases are crucial to refining the system based on real-world usage, aligning it more closely with the practical needs of the organization. By prioritizing these daily use cases, organizations can ensure that the CLM system becomes an integral and user-friendly tool in day-to-day operations, maximizing its impact on contract management processes.

4. Get to Know Your Internal Champions

Internal champions of the CLM implementation are individuals within the organization who understand the intricacies of the CLM system and are enthusiastic advocates for its benefits. Establishing a strong rapport with these champions can significantly influence the adoption rate of the solution among all teams. Be sure to regularly communicate with them, seeking their insights on challenges, successes, and opportunities for improvement.

Internal champions also help facilitate change management by serving as mentors and guides to their colleagues. By understanding their perspectives, concerns, and motivations, organizations can tailor training programs and support mechanisms to address specific needs. Investing time in building a collaborative relationship with champions ensures a smoother integration of the CLM system into the organizational culture. 

Recognize contributions of internal champions and empower them to be influencers during the implementation process, creating a positive ripple effect on the overall acceptance and utilization of the CLM solution across the organization. The synergy between the implementation team and these champions is instrumental in fostering a culture where the CLM system becomes an integral part of daily operations.

5. Build a Business Case

Constructing a compelling business case is key to garnering support and resources for a successful CLM implementation. Consider the following points when building a personalized business case that matches the current and future needs of your organization.

  • Aspirational use of data. Emphasize the strategic utilization of data that meets the information needs of the C-suite. Showcase how the CLM system provides insights and metrics that support informed decision-making at the executive level.
  • Sales revenue impact. Highlight the direct correlation between CLM implementation and enhanced sales revenue. Illustrate how the system expedites contract processes, reduces negotiation cycles, and ultimately contributes to improved overall sales efficiency.
  • Knowledge management. Position the CLM system as a powerful tool for knowledge management. Showcase its ability to centralize critical information, mitigate risks, and ensure compliance, thereby improving organizational intelligence.
  • Iterate on contract language. Stress the value of the CLM system in continuously improving contract language. By analyzing contract performance and language effectiveness, organizations can refine their agreements, reducing legal risks and optimizing contractual terms.
  • Faster revenue realization. Communicate how the CLM system accelerates revenue realization by expediting contract processes. Showcase its role in reducing delays, ensuring prompt approvals, and facilitating quicker monetary transactions.

A well-structured business case, emphasizing the above points, secures stakeholder support and provides a roadmap for a successful CLM implementation aligned with organizational objectives.

6. Keep Improving

CLM implementation doesn’t end with going live. In fact, it’s just the beginning. The solution must be prepared to pivot, adapt, and keep evolving in response to the changing needs of the business and industry dynamics.

A great way to embrace this culture of continuous improvement is to cultivate and maintain a strong partnership with your CLM vendor. Regular communication, feedback loops, and staying informed about updates and advancements ensure that your organization can leverage the full potential of the CLM system and make improvements over time. The key is to view CLM implementation as a dynamic, ongoing process, where adaptation leads to long-term success.