For companies that have not yet made the transition to a cloud-based contract management solution, taking the time to initiate this change may seem like a daunting prospect. Depending on the size of a company’s contract portfolio and the number of personnel devoted to contract management, moving a large quantity of files and documents over and then learning how to use a new software system will inevitably take a bit of time. One of the best things the contract management team can do is plan for the implementation process to ensure adequate preparation takes place in advance of the switch. Here are four best practices for contract management software implementation:
Standardization and Organization
The key to streamlining any contract management process is to focus on standardization and organization. To standardize the contracting process, a company should rely on well-written templates as much as possible. By having a set of pre-negotiated terms and conditions, it is much faster and easier to enter into subsequent contracts and the management team will know what to expect when it comes to managing the portfolio. In addition, having a specific management approach in place that governs each phase of the contract lifecycle can help simplify the negotiation and drafting of contracts, as well as the ensuing management process post-execution. By already having a standardized and organized management method, it should be fairly easy to transition to using contract management software.
Allocation of Tasks and Time
A common reason that companies avoid making the switch to an online management system is that it requires the investment of time and money. However, companies must simply determine how much the company has available, in terms of human and financial capital, to allocate to the tasks and time that will be needed to implement the system. The process can take place in as little as one day or it could be spread out over a longer time period to allow for the team to work on small chunks at a time. The primary goal should be coming up with a realistic timeline that works for the company as a whole.
Training and Adaptation Considerations
Implementing new contract management software is one thing, but then actually understanding how to use it can be a whole other ballgame. A big part of the planning and implementation has to include time for training employees and allowing for a period of adaptation. Granted, there are solutions with rather simple interfaces and round-the-clock technical support, but it can still take people some time to get used to a new way of doing things. Even the most sophisticated, practical software out there will be utterly useless if the team is not given adequate instruction on how to use it.
New Policies and Procedures
Although the goal of contract management software is to simplify the contract management process, traditional management methods may have to be tweaked a bit to account for the use of new technology. For example, if a shared calendar was used to highlight important contract deadlines and key milestones, it will likely be necessary to migrate that calendar to the contract management software. Some companies may wish to maintain some of their prior practices while also using their newly implemented software, which is no doubt feasible. But, to get the most out of any contract management solution, it is likely best to revise the existing policies and procedures to ensure there is sufficient technological integration.