What to Look for in Contract Management Software? Tips to Choose Wisely

With so many contract lifecycle management software systems on the market today, it’s worth investigating before you purchase so that you can ensure the best fit for your business. Here we offer insights on the benefits of CLM software, as well as tips on signing with a CLM provider so that you can best capitalize on your CLM software investment.

Understanding CLM

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software is a system that manages and organizes your contracting processes from initiation to execution, and beyond. Investing in a CLM system means you won’t have to worry about any part of the contract process falling through the cracks – whether you are at the proposal phase, inactive negotiation, ready to sign, or need to review data in existing contracts.

This attention to all stages explains the incorporation of the term “lifecycle” in the CLM name; CLM systems are designed for the entire lifecycle of your contracts, from conception to archiving. 

CLM systems centralize your business’s contract data and make creating and executing new contracts a simple, straightforward process – both for your client and your team. For instance, you are able to build off of previous work done for pre-existing contracts by duplicating texts and editing, as needed, for new clients. You are able to navigate by searching the data for specific terms as well.

For instance, you could search for all the contracts signed in a certain month, or you could locate all contracts involving “Antonio Martin.” You could search by contract type or duration, or any number of other features. CLM software also allows you to easily manage compliance issues across all contracts. Perhaps the most helpful innovation of CMS is its ability to track your contracts through various stages and automate reminders and deadlines for your team.

Prioritizing Your CLM Needs

The first step in evaluating a CLM provider occurs before you consider any specific CLM software at all: it is examining your own business needs. Which of CLM’s benefits will be most useful for your business at this point in time? And which features do you envision gaining in importance in the future? We outline a few benefits more in-depth here.

Not only does CLM software act as an archive for all your existing (and pending) contracts, your CLM system can also serve as the central contact repository for your business. Data on all of your clients, and even colleagues, networks, and connections, can be stored in your CLM system and shared with all or select members of your team. No matter the scale of your business, this feature is essential to any successful operation. 

As briefly mentioned above, you can also use contract lifecycle management software to quickly search the text of all your existing (and in-process) contracts for certain terms. Whether you need to search by client, date, or type of contract, this feature allows you to navigate your contracts and take full advantage of your existing work by being able to access it easily.

CLM software increases the visibility of various aspects of your contracts, as you are able to highlight and organize by themes, such as type of contract, for instance, and use your existing work to better train your team moving forward. Of course, share settings can be controlled so that the privacy of documents and clients can be maintained as necessary.

Finally, CLM software features automation of the contracting process itself. Not only will you be able to visualize where each contract is in the process and benefit from reminders and next steps, you will be able to sort contracts by what stage they are in – easily pulling up all contracts at the signing stage, for instance. This feature will improve the efficiency of your processes as well as the productivity of your contracting team.

Choosing the Best CLM for You

After you have mapped your business needs, it’s time to turn to the CLM software options available on the market today. We recommend receiving at least three quotes for CLM software packages and then requesting a product demonstration from each provider. Any reputable CLM provider should be willing to meet with your team virtually and walk you through their product as well as schedule additional follow up and training sessions, as needed. This is the time to ask specific questions you may have about the CLM software’s capabilities and troubleshoot issues you may foresee.

Even if you feel strongly that a certain CLM provider is the best fit for your organization, we recommend a trial period where you actually use the CLM software to work through a contracting process from beginning to end. This will give you a chance to experience the software firsthand, as well as test the customer support of the CLM provider. Ideally, your business will then transition seamlessly from this trial period to a contract with a CLM provider, increasing your efficiency while streamlining a complicated process.

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