Business growth is not without risk. More customers means more contracts to juggle, more obligations to meet and deadlines to keep track of. Unless your processes can scale up with the business, there is a very real risk of sleepwalking into mis-approvals, missed billings and a host of other negative impacts.

This was the challenge faced by Fiorenza Provenzano, International Legal Counsel for life sciences software & consulting specialists, N-SIDE. She recognised the potential benefits of CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management) technology for streamlining processes and managing complex obligations. However, for a legal professional with no prior experience in software implementation, taking the lead on a whole new system was a daunting prospect.

Following a successful implementation, Provenzano linked up with Ash Finnegan, Digital Transformation Officer of Conga CLM, as well as PhiX’s Director of Lead-to-Ledger, Justin Wheatley, to explain what went right.

The webinar (available here) is a must-watch for any business seeking to overhaul contract management. As a taster, and based on N-SIDE’s real-life experiences, here are some essential tips for success.

Define the ‘as is’

“I need to see what’s happening today, to understand what needs to change”

For N-SIDE, contracts were scattered across multiple locations, with key information contained in various Excel files. The company was looking for more efficient ways to create and manage those contracts throughout their lifecycle. It also needed clearer visibility to minimise the risk of obligations not being met.

What exactly could they do better? To understand this, map out your current contract lifecycle. Define each of the steps (e.g. creation, negotiation, approval, fulfilment, closure) and the processes, people and distinct tasks involved in each.

From here, you can identify the type of shortfalls and inefficiencies that might be addressed with the right technology. For N-SIDE, contract authoring was one such area: Provenzano realised that a single hub for commonly used clauses could streamline the creation process significantly.

Define organisational requirements

“Bring people on the journey. They’ll see things you don’t see”.

What are your organisation’s criteria for a new CLM system? To determine this, get key stakeholders around the table. People from sales, customer accounts, service delivery and finance can all offer valuable input on what features should be included.

Contract processes typically straddle multiple departments. A great CLM solution will help you automate and manage tasks involving various areas of the business. Rather than presenting the business with new tech out of the blue, if you get relevant parties involved from across the business, it also helps ensure successful adoption later on.

Conga Webinar: Commercial Operations Evolved

Choice of technology

“Stay focused on the business outcomes and don’t get lost in the features”.

Technology can be noisy. When weighing up providers, it is easy to be swayed by an impressive-sounding spec list, and lose sight of the capabilities you actually need.

Provenzano avoided this by being absolutely clear on her buying criteria. For N-SIDE, must-have requirements included the ability to integrate third-party documents into the system (rather than just those based on the company’s own templates). It’s one of the reasons why the company chose the Gartner-recommended Conga CLM solution. With its Intelligent Discovery add-on, it means that contracts can be seamlessly imported into the CLM repository, regardless of format or source.

The value of implementation expertise

“I felt like they were part of my business”.

N-SIDE’s choice of PhiX Technologies as an implementation partner was a natural one. The company has over ten years experience in simplifying complex billing, contract and other financial requirements. More specific to the project in hand, PhiX is also a member of Conga’s select network of recommended commercial operations transformation experts.

For any implementation partner, inside-out knowledge of the software should be a given. But a great partner offers much more than this. Provenzano describes how PhiX quickly became an extension of the N-SIDE team, getting to grips with the customer’s way of working, ensuring set-up was tailored to the company’s requirements, ironing out any difficulties and helping to ensure swift, successful user adoption.

WATCH: Laying the foundations for a successful CLM implementation

Thanks to clear goals, the right choice of technology and implementation support that was fully aligned with what the business was trying to achieve, N-SIDE was able to reap the full benefits of its new CLM system.