Improving Contracting with Technology: Tips & Tricks
Seamless contracting is top priority for all organizations, irrespective of company size and industry. Technology is within reach to assist with certain parts of the contract lifecycle or to manage the entire process on a single platform (end-to-end). Yet despite the abundance of tools available, there are many impediments to change for better contracting habits. Here’s an overview of three typical challenges we’ve seen in client projects and our best-practice tips for improving contracting with technology.
#1 Holistic approach to contracting
One challenge that keeps coming up in contract digitization projects is the limitation of separated teams (compartmentalized legal and/or business units) to manage digital transformation efforts holistically. Oftentimes, contracts are not within the ownership of a single team in an organization, but they are typically multi-stakeholder business activities. Accordingly, optimizing contract related workstreams requires coordinated and collaborative action across several departments.
InvestCEE best practice tip #1: when optimizing the contract workflow, make sure to include decision-makers from the legal, IT and business departments. Multidisciplinary teams can holistically drive the process changes that are actually needed in an organization. From our portfolio, Dealsign and Zefort are both ideal platforms for multi-stakeholder collaboration around contracts.
Optimal contract flow requires ongoing maintenance and nurturing. In a more traditional work environment this continuous effort may not be so apparent (watch out for mindset traps like ‘contracts always happen somehow anyways’). Yet for innovation-focused legal operations professionals it is obvious: the day job is contracts! Document templates become outdated within weeks/months. Task or process owners may leave or forget their obligations to regularly review terms. Technology used for contracting must be monitored for updates and integration flows.
InvestCEE best practice tip #2: Contract data must be monitored, and reported on. Workflow timelines must be tracked. Internal efforts and external input must be measured. From our portfolio, Xakia proved to be an ideal data hub for overall legal matter management and an accurate reporting tool also for contracting workflows.
As business evolves, contract processes may become stale and slow. Organizations typically find it challenging to regularly review and optimize contracting routines. In our experience, playbooks help streamline best practices and can be adapted to new scenarios when needed. They are flexible low-tech (or no tech) tools for sharing knowledge across several departments and teams in efficient and consistent ways.
InvestCEE best practice tip #3: contracting playbooks may be designed in variety of shapes and sizes, depending on actual need. Negotiation guides, step-plans, empowering (or self-help) sheets are just a few examples of condensed summaries for better understanding and explaining contract processes, accepted negotiation positions or escalation rules internally. From our portfolio, Contract Mill has “instruction” fields that operate as an integrated playbook for drafting contracts.
Recognising that contracting at scale is the ultimate team sport, we love to be part of the process design work from early on and celebrate success stories together with our clients. Our team has a knack for spotting ways for improvement and optimizing contract processes with low-tech playbooks and high-tech solutions if and where needed.
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