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5 Things That Can Go Wrong With Contract Lifecycle Management Software (And How You Can Avoid Them)

    
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While most companies recognize the importance of contract management software, ineffective implementation can leave execs feeling disappointed. Failing to achieve contract management improvements is especially frustrating for the employees who made the case for purchasing the software in the first place. You identified that the old system wasn’t working, and the contract lifecycle management software the company bought said it would save money and lower risk. What’s gone wrong?

Problem: Employees Aren’t Logging In

On paper, the software’s features, security standards, and performance capability look like the answer to the organization’s problems. The handful of employees using the software love it, but where’s everyone else?

Finding a software program with an easy-to-use interface is important to convince employees at all levels to buy in. Busy finance operations officers don’t have time to watch extensive tutorials and hunt around for the features they need. A simple, intuitive interface, with easy options like drag-and-drop uploading, helps high-level staff start using the software quickly and get back to an urgent project list.

In some cases, implementing in multiple phases can benefit the organization. Transitioning vendor contracts and employee agreements, then NDA forms and business partners, then client contracts to the new system offers a more gradual transition.

Finally, identify troubleshooting resources in advance. Maybe the contract management software offers 24/7 technical support. Perhaps you’ll opt to introduce the software to your company’s IT team a week or two before other departments so your internal tech support has time to learn the ropes. Employees may be more likely to try the software when they know they can ask for help.

Problem: Wet Ink Signatures Cause Delays

Over-reliance on traditional signatures causes several problems for contract management. First, wet ink signatures frequently cause delays. Scheduling meetings or couriers and getting all necessary copies to all signing parties can be a lengthy process. If delays fall at the wrong time, they can bump revenue reporting to the next quarter or even the next year, which is inconvenient for the company’s financial reporting.

Next, sending hard copies around increases the risk that someone will miss a page or even mistakenly sign the wrong version, resulting in costly legal review to correct the error. Finally, drafting a contract electronically, transitioning to hard copy to sign, and moving back to digital storage and management makes it harder to track the full lifecycle of the contract.

Using electronic signatures as the primary method solves these issues. E-signatures are secure, legal, and faster than wet ink signatures. Choose software with fully integrated e-signature features so you create a seamless contract management experience from signing onward.

Problem: Poor Tagging Causes Inadequate Search Capability

Most companies implement contract lifecycle management software with hopes of improving organization. Even if the software can organize contracts effectively, reality can fall short of this ideal if users don’t take advantage of options like tagging documents. Admins may not realize there are critical gaps in their searches until it’s too late.

The solution: Require it! Tag templates let admins standardize which parameters must be tagged for a type of contract, and set required fields so that new documents need to be properly tagged when they're uploaded.

Problem: Referrals Yields Disappointing Results

One issue that’s rarely discussed is that referrals can backfire, wasting time and money for the organization. As the “Market Guide for Contract Lifecycle Management” noted, “User references are more likely representative of the vendor’s professional services capability than the vendor’s solution.” A particular software solution may fit a smaller vendor’s needs perfectly, but fail to address the pain points you need to resolve in your large organization.

Another reason to take customer referrals with a grain of salt is that they may have customized various aspects of the software to suit their needs. Customizability is important, of course, but only if that capability extends to the specific issues you need to tailor features for.

If you see a software program that looks promising, discussing your company’s needs with a representative may be more helpful than basing your decision on other users’ experience. You’ll also get a sense of how responsive the contract management software company is in terms of customer service and support.

Problem: Contract Management Software Performance Isn’t Measured

Once you’ve successfully implemented a new system, it can feel like the majority of the work is over. Researching options, securing approval from company stakeholders, and transferring documents to the new system is a significant achievement. But the next step is essential to contract management success: Track and measure performance going forward.

For one matter, measuring ROI assures stakeholders that the investment was worthwhile. Financial officers and legal counsel may also appreciate the ability to include contract management results in KPI reports about their departments.

Tracking performance also helps you catch issues before they spiral into serious problems. There’s no single, “perfect” contract management process. Each company customizes its processes and strives to improve them over time. Solve problems early (Are some employees spammed with email alerts? Time for admins to review who really needs to be linked to certain accounts), and you’re on the right path to managing a sustainable, successful contract management system for your company. 

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