During your search for contract management software, you will undoubtedly reach the natural point in the process where you compare and contrast a long list of features offered by a number of software vendors. Choosing the software that comes with the most robust feature set is one way to make a decision, but it won’t necessarily guarantee that you’re getting the best value or the best solution for your specific needs.
Here are some questions to ask during the contract management software search that should help you decide whether you can realistically implement and adopt the software and ultimately achieve long term success working with the vendor.
1. What should I expect during the sales process?
Buying contract management software can be a daunting task, but having the right partner can help streamline the process and ensure that you have everything you need to be successful.
During the sales process, putting potential contract management software providers to the test can serve as a preview of what it would be like to be their customer. As you’re working with various sales teams, ask yourself questions like:
How easy is it to get in touch with the person I’m looking for?
Is the team responsive to my requests or suggestions?
Is the sales team interested in learning about my pain points and challenges or only focused on closing the sale?
Keeping these questions in mind before signing an agreement will help you avoid getting locked into an unfavorable relationship.
2. What implementation and onboarding resources are available to me?
When working with software that requires some level of onboarding or implementation, having a support team that you are comfortable interacting with - and can rely on - is key to your long term success.
One of the most significant benefits of contract management software is time savings, but that can only be realized if you know your way around the platform. While finding the time to take on additional projects can be challenging, not allowing for sufficient implementation and up-front training can lead to ongoing issues for every user on your team. It’s important that you understand each provider’s implementation process and are comfortable and confident that the approach will work for you and your team.
3. Will I ever have to pay for ongoing support or training?
Having adequate training and customer support can make or break your experience using the software. Ask questions about this part of the relationship early in the process so you know what to expect from the outset. If you are the owner of the software and are responsible for training others on your team, you’ll want to know that you have help available when questions arise. And when your team has questions, they shouldn’t be forced to only look to the internal power-user for help to avoid extra support fees from the software vendor. You have your own projects and responsibilities to manage, and it shouldn’t be your job to train others in your organization on your contract management software.
The solution you choose should be intuitive and user-friendly, but your software partner should be there to help you throughout the lifetime of your relationship and provide ample training and support to anyone on your team who needs it.
Finding a partner that offers 24/7 support and unlimited training will help reduce the chances you’re ever in a position where you can’t easily get the help you need. If there are extra fees for onboarding and training, be sure you understand that and know exactly what you’re paying for before making a final decision.
4. How do I know this product is actually a good fit for my business?
While you don’t need to develop a friendship with account reps, it's beneficial to establish a partnership and find a team that you're comfortable with and can rely on.
What your contract management software partner should do during the discovery and sales process is take the time to get to know you and understand your biggest challenges and pain points, what is driving your search, and what you’re looking for in the software.
Ultimately, if someone sells you on a product that isn’t actually in alignment with your specific needs, it won’t be a successful relationship for long, so it’s in both parties’ best interests to find a natural fit rather than trying to force a sale. When you do find a software partner that understands your business and what you’re looking to accomplish, the benefits can be significant.
Signing up for a free trial is also a good way to determine whether or not the product addresses your biggest contract management challenges.
5. How are you working to improve the product?
A good contract management software provider will continuously work to improve the product and add additional value for their customers, without charging extra for every upgrade.
The only way a software company can survive is if they continue to offer solutions that provide what customers need, and the only way to get that feedback is to listen to customers. Be sure to ask vendors questions about their process for gathering feedback, how receptive they are to incorporating customer input into their product plans, and what they have planned for the future of the software.
More likely than not, if you’re searching for contract management software, you’re looking for a long term solution for your contract management needs. Unless the software or the customer experience falls short of your expectations, you’ll likely stick with the vendor you choose for years, which is why it’s so important to ask questions early in the sales process and fully understand how each provider supports the needs of its customers.