Many businesses are aware of the potential benefits of contract lifecycle management tools. This includes avoiding automatic renewals, cutting out unnecessary costs, gaining a clearer overview of future commitments, receiving timely notification of renegotiations, reducing dependency on key personnel and budgeting more quickly with more accurate projections.
Professional contract management not only gives your business tangible economic benefits and better management and control – something which both the Board and investors highly value – it also ensures the following: Businesses with mature users of contract lifecycle management tools have significantly less stressed-out CFOs, controllers and accounting managers. With less time to spend on unnecessary routine work and searching for contracts, CFOs are free to concentrate on strategic matters.
Which tool should you choose? Purchasers of contract lifecycle management tools are naturally looking for quick gains – without having to invest too much in training. But there is a whole raft of other things you should consider. To help you, we’ve prepared a checklist of things we think are important to consider when selecting tools.
1. Is the solution user-friendly?
An intuitive user-interface, with all the fields you need for effective long-term contract lifecycle management, is naturally a good start. Ask for a demonstration, not just of how contracts are registered, but also of how to extract reports.
2. What user manuals and self-help methods are available?
Regardless of how intuitive and user-friendly the solution is, sometimes users can get stuck and need help. Lots of people find it rewarding to solve challenges themselves, perhaps with the help of informative user manuals or videos. Ask to see them!
3. Is there a hands-on customer support department that speaks your language?
Imagine receiving a large flat pack from IKEA with no user instructions and no one on hand to help! Whether you’re talking about rolling out a contract lifecycle management tool, or you need support and further training once you’re underway, talking to an expert in user support who speaks your language will be the best way to spend your time.
4. Is it difficult to get started – and is help available?
Most people appreciate the value of a contract lifecycle management tool, but haven’t got the time to collect and register all the contracts in the system. As already mentioned, a user-friendly tool is a good start. Are there also opportunities for automatic scanning and interpreting of the contracts? Does the supplier have experts who take care of the registration? Be sure to get clear answers to such questions!
5. How do you learn best practice for contract lifecycle management?
Getting the best out of tools involves more than being able to use all the functions. Professional contract lifecycle management involves establishing organisation-wide behaviour and making the necessary changes without unnecessarily stressing out your colleagues. The more customers and the longer history a supplier has, the greater the experience they have of how their customers organise their work – provided that they have helped the customers establish best practice. Ask what you can expect from their Customer Success Managers!
6. Can the tool be adapted and expanded to suit your needs?
A modern SaaS solution performs many standard functions that can be used by all types of industry and sizes of company. An adaptable software developer accommodates input from customers by developing modules for both wider and more niche-oriented use. What modules are available to suit your particular needs?
7. Is the supplier innovative and willing to develop the tool?
A solution that does what you want today will seldom be quite as good tomorrow. A good software developer constantly incorporates new and user-oriented functionality into its solutions. What about electronic signing of documents and machine learning? Ask the supplier to tell you about new modules and areas of use they have developed for the solution over time!
8. What do other people say about using the tool?
How many other people use the tool? How many assets, contracts and other documents have been registered? Rising customer numbers and sales volumes are all very reassuring, but it should also be easy to get hold of references from individual customers. Ask about churn – how many of last year’s customers have stopped using the tool?
9. What about data security?
Your company’s contracts, whether with suppliers or customers, often contain business-critical information which could result in heavy fines should it go astray. That makes it important to get clear answers about how the data is stored, how security is tested and which partners are used.
10. What about the company you are buying from?
First-class data security, constantly improving functionality and good customer support are what creates long-term customer growth. But how solid are the finances of the company selling you your solution? How dependent are they on individual customers? How will they cope with the next pandemic? Are they backed by solid owners? Always partner with companies that take a long-term perspective!
11. Can you get help achieving your company’s climate strategy?
A growing number of businesses are interested in more than just growth in income and profitability. They also have goals relating to resource consumption and the climate. More often than not a company’s resource consumption and emissions will be linked to contracts, orders and deliveries. Smart contract lifecycle management tools give you concrete answers on your current status and help you to reduce your long-term footprint.