Introducing the 2023 Edition of The Buyer’s Guide to Contract Management Software
Contract Management Software
The first quarter is not over yet, and we can already tell that 2023 is shaping up to be a tumultuous year. Layoffs, cost cutting, shifts in priorities, service rates rising – all signals that reaching business goals will get increasingly harder for all business units.
In this economic landscape, departments are forced to enter the “hunger games” to get their share of the budget. While some teams (such as Sales or Marketing) get a head start due to their clear-cut and measurable impact on the company’s bottom line, teams like Legal are viewed as a cost center — as they don’t generate direct business.
Most lawyers are all too familiar with being asked to do more with less, and in 2023 this statement is turning from a strong request to a never-stopping mantra. Sadly, most businesses still fail to appreciate legal work happening in the background until things go wrong – while most of what in-house lawyers do is set up things the right way, mitigating risks before they become visible to the rest of the organization. With fewer resources available, Legal must look for new approaches to demonstrate value, drive cost savings, and make strategic decisions.
Using efficient multifunctional technology is one of the quick wins that allows Legal to divert budget and amplify the department’s material impact on the bottom line. So in 2023’s edition of the ContractWorks Buyer’s Guide to Contract Management Software, we focused on helping teams choose the tool that will address multiple areas in contract management while focusing on ROI and the economy at scale.
Below we added several excerpts from our guide, which also includes:
An overview of the primary types of solutions used to solve contract management challenges, including a Solutions Comparison Chart.
A step-by-step plan to help you choose a solution that aligns with your contract management challenges, goals, and budget.
Plus, a Contract Management Software Selection Checklist.
Establishing the Groundwork
As tempting as it might be to jump to choosing the software and figure out the rest along the way, in the current economic climate preparing for the selection process is as crucial as making the right decision.
So before you start, it's essential to consider the "People – Process – Technology" framework to understand your needs first and, most importantly, the internal clients' expectations.“People – Process – Technology" instructs a team to treat other departments like customers with needs. Those needs are addressed first by understanding the problem, then adjusting processes to solve them, and supporting success with tech.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the three stages of this framework:
Historically, legal teams want to operate as a pillar of knowledge or a single source of truth for all legal questions. Nowadays, such a siloed approach will stifle growth and innovation within legal, rendering them unprepared for an evolving world. Legal needs to encourage team members to apply a people-first approach. In other words, Legal should be easy to communicate and converse with. Adopting a positive manner will not only improve client experiences, but it will encourage other teams to proactively seek out Legal to address concerns.
A shift in mindset has to occur to set up effective legal ops workflows. While managers still have to think like lawyers, they need to work like project managers, such as identifying and managing high-priority risks.One way to approach working in this manner is to ask, “What’s going to make the biggest impact?” Then once you get the answer, start working on it. This will also force some changes to how work is done. Previously, Legal was never as process-oriented as product groups or finance teams. But as CLOs are asked to deliver faster, legal teams will be forced to adopt procedures and workflows that will optimize work and make task completion more efficient.
Leveraging technology intelligently and intentionally will go a long way toward cementing and simplifying processes while streamlining operations and ensuring positive experiences. The optimal way to adopt tech is to find a device or software that can fulfill many different needs. This not only simplifies usage, but it won’t stretch budgets. For example, if a platform can search, collect, call, review, and delete data while keeping it secure and can search for and pull data from other systems in use, it makes use easier to justify.
If the order of People → Process → Technology breaks, or if priorities are changed, this prevents Legal from effectively doing its job as the company’s protector and strategic advisor. Be sure to have this cadence in mind when embarking on your search.
Evaluating the Pricing
Shopping for the right CLM system is easier when you know how much your options cost. But where exactly can you find pricing information for these solutions?
Here are some of the places to look.
Demos. By booking a demo, you can make even the most secretive vendors disclose their pricing structure. Just go to the vendor's official website and look for demo offers. These often come for free.
Website. A quick look at a vendor's official website could give you enough insight into their pricing structure. Some providers do not publish any pricing info at all. In other cases, you will have to be resourceful and try hacks like adding "/pricing" to the site's URL.
Pricing calculators. Certain vendors make life easier for software shoppers with user-friendly pricing calculators readily available on their websites.
Software review websites. You can find a wealth of information from software review websites like Capterra, G2 Crowd, and TrustRadius.
Video overviews. Some providers use videos to provide an overview of their CLM software and its pricing structure.
Third-party testimonials. You can scour the Internet for third-party testimonials that mention pricing. Directly contacting the vendor's past customers is also an option.
Word-of-mouth. You may hear about pricing through the grapevine. You might also know some people who are well-informed about what's what in the world of CLM software. Do not hesitate to reach out.
Technical documentation and knowledge bases. In rare cases, CLM software providers make technical documentation or knowledge bases accessible to the public. They might include information that can be helpful for your search.
Choosing the right contract management software is no easy task, especially in 2023 — when costs are under extreme scrutiny. With Finance being the principal stakeholder in any decision-making, legal departments must pay extra attention to the software’s cost-effectiveness and its ROI. This also means that the cost of the mistake has grown exponentially, as no budget is available for "test and learn" anymore.