Selecting a contract management system is only the beginning to getting a handle on your contracts. Once you have chosen the platform you want to use, you need to transition your team into using the tool — and that’s usually a bit more complex than simply instructing people to use it. Not only do you need to provide training and instruction in how to use the system, you need to gain buy-in from individuals who might not understand why they need to change how they do things.
Even if your team has been clamoring for a better way to manage contracts for quite some time, you need to put the pieces in place for a successful implementation from the moment you start evaluating your enterprise contract management options. That begins with having the right people at the table to discuss their pain points and potential solution and communicating with end users at every point of the process. As you begin the process of rolling out your new contracting processes, keep these points in mind for a successful implementation.
It happens every day: “Management” decides that a change is necessary and invests in expensive software or other tools designed to streamline a process. Employees are blindsided by the change, and disillusioned and frustrated when the “solution” doesn’t adequately address their pain points, and more often than not, creates new problems. The new protocols backfire, and the company ends up wasting time and money while failing to solve the original problem.
To avoid a disastrous rollout, it is vital to get employee buy-in from the very start. You need to understand exactly what is and is not working for the people in the trenches every day before you even begin to evaluate solutions. Simply bringing in everyone who is involved in the contract lifecycle into the conversation from the beginning can go a long way to fostering support for the project — and preventing a disastrous rollout.
Once you have selected a contract management system, the next step is to determine whether to use a pilot or phased approach to rollout.
The pilot approach is the most common for most businesses implementing new initiatives. Typically, this means selecting a group of users and providing them with full access and monitoring their performance and success. Issues are handled as they crop up, and eventually, the system is rolled out to all users, ostensibly after all the kinks have been worked out.
The other approach is the phased approach, in which all users have access to the system but only use it for specific functions. As they develop familiarity and skills, they move into subsequent phases of the rollout, until eventually everyone is using the program as part of their daily work.
Each method of rollout has its advantages and disadvantages, but in most cases, the phased approach is more efficient and cost-effective. Pilot programs tend to lengthen the time to full implementation and cost more, and typically lead to more training than phased rollouts, which is why most companies are moving to phased approach these days. Regardless of which method you choose, you need to develop a plan, communicate the plan, and stick with it to ensure success.
It goes without saying, but thorough training is a cornerstone of any successful rollout. Expecting your team to have every piece of the system figured out and use it perfectly right away is a recipe for failure, so giving them time to practice and get used to the new protocols is important. In fact, taking a phased approach to rollout helps with this effort. You can begin by introducing the platform for one type of contracts, such as NDAs, and add additional functions as people get up to speed. The better your training, the more excited that your team will become about their new capabilities and the time they are saving, and the more they’ll want to use the system.
As part of the training process, you need to address workflow, and how contracts will be managed throughout their lifecycles. Tasks must be assigned to specific individuals or departments, and there needs to be a consistent workflow for every contract to avoid confusion or missed steps. Consider enlisting specific individuals to serve as experts, who know the contract management system inside and out and can provide additional assistance and troubleshooting when necessary. When your team knows who to go to for help and has the tools necessary to use your contract lifecycle management platform to its greatest advantage, the results will be better than if no one knows where to get help — or even what to ask.
Implementing a contract lifecycle management solution doesn’t have to be a complex and never-ending process. However, you can’t expect to roll it out with a big bang and see impressive results without taking the necessary steps to get the necessary buy-in and prepare your teams for the new processes. Eventually, the solution will be second nature, and you will wonder what you ever did without it.
If you’re looking for a new contract management system, contact Exari and request a demo. See how our platform can help your teams.