Companies make enormous investments in CRM and enterprise systems. So it’s only natural that they would look to stretch their investment by using those systems for as many functions as possible. The more you use it, the higher the ROI.
Let’s take Salesforce.com as an example. Salesforce is a wonderful CRM system used by over 100,000 companies and recently named by Fortune as the most admired computer software company – we use it ourselves here at Exari. It can be instrumental for salespeople in managing leads and contacts. It can be essential for administrators and marketing professionals. But Salesforce may not be the best platform to address every need.
One of those things is sophisticated Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM).
Using Salesforce for some contract management capabilities may work for some companies who need only base level contract management to support a straightforward and limited contract portfolio. If, however, you require robust contract lifecycle management functionalities (such as negotiation tools, complex data analysis and reporting, and total integration with existing ERP systems) or if you’re planning to scale your company, you’ll have to look beyond Salesforce, which, according to many companies we’ve spoken with, often proves unable to address a high volume or complex contract needs.
For one, using Salesforce for contract management means that all of your contracts must live in the cloud. Particularly now, with experts saying that maintaining cloud-based data storage means greater exposure to cyber threats, it’s vital that corporations have the ability to choose where to keep their contract portfolio. After all, not all clouds are created equal. Furthermore, while Salesforce may be fine for storing sales contracts, your contract portfolio contains a wide variety of other contracts that contain a wealth of sensitive information, which, more likely than not, you do not want every salesperson be able to access. Using Salesforce as your sales contract database would require you to use another, more secure database for sensitive contracts in order to comply with certain client obligations and best practices regarding delicate material. Dividing your contract database inevitably leads to oversight and complications, not least of which is your inability to holistically track and analyze your contracts.
Another significant issue with using Salesforce as a contract lifecycle management tool is that most attorneys won’t feel as comfortable as salespeople do working within it. Lawyers like working with their preferred programs, whether that be Microsoft Word or some other word processor. Companies using Salesforce for contract management complain of poor adoption by attorneys, who often continue to use their own tools regardless of company policy. Poor adoption leads to lack of consistency, inadequate knowledge sharing and, potentially, rogue contracting, which leaves you exposed to a multitude of unknown risks.
Some CM providers, such as Selectica and Apttus, bring improved CM capabilities to Salesforce. These solutions are built directly into Salesforce.com, thus requiring users to pay for users’ Salesforce licenses, which are both expensive and limiting. Being inextricably tied to Salesforce in this way can turn into a major problem down the road when Salesforce’s contract management capabilities prove unable to scale alongside your company. Indeed, Salesforce is far from state-of-the-art when it comes to its contract management capabilities, lacking meaningfully robust workflow, reporting and search functionalities.
So what should companies who have already invested in Salesforce do?
The best solution for many companies is to keep the salespeople where they want to be (Salesforce) and the lawyers where they want to be (a dedicated, lawyer-centric CLM system). With Exari, salespeople can work in Salesforce while the attorneys can keep using Word (or whatever program they’re comfortable with) to draft and negotiate contracts. Exari allows documents to be stored in the cloud or on-premises and integrates fully with Salesforce without requiring users to subscribe. We offer a more robust permission protection system, so that access to your sensitive documents remains restricted. A solution with advanced contract lifecycle management capabilities is the only option for companies with ever-growing and highly complex contract portfolios, and ours are second to none.