The market for contract lifecycle management software keeps growing. Experts predict it will reach $2.9 billion by 2024, a 13.5% increase each year since 2019. With an increasing number of companies using these tools, the importance of managing contract compliance grows. Research shows over 65% of businesses work better after bringing in the software. The right system can reduce risk and improve compliance.
This article will walk you through picking software step-by-step. We’ll look at understanding your needs, comparing options, integrating the system, and tracking its impact. Follow this game plan to choose compliance management software that fits your organization’s needs.
Table of Contents
Understanding Your Contract Compliance Landscape
Identify and Map Processes with Contract Impacts
Document all critical workflows involving agreements across business units, including steps like:
- Contract drafting
- Terms negotiation
- Vendor onboarding
- Purchase requisitions
In the case of complex organizations, focus on processes directly related to regulatory compliance, such as financial reporting or privacy standards with evident contractual components. Construct thorough process maps outlining key inputs, outputs, and decision points.
Identify what systems currently support these workflows such as procurement software or purpose-built contract lifecycle management platforms. Note areas still relying on manual spreadsheets or offline document storage that present digitization opportunities.
Classify Compliance Requirements
Categorize distinct compliance obligations in mapped processes by risk level, accountable stakeholders, and deadlines. These range from mandatory external filing dates to internal annual customer change notification policies.
Outline specific regulations or business policies tied to each procedure.
Gather direct feedback from process owners in legal, finance, sales, and operations through interviews on current contract challenges and efficiency improvement areas.
Their insights ensure the solution addresses documented pain points, rather than attempting a one-size-fits-all product.
Supplement with role-specific surveys identifying feature priorities for tailored system access.
Review major upcoming projects that could impact procedures to design a flexible framework capable of scaling across departments and adapting to future needs.
Transitioning to New Software
Clean and Structure Existing Data
As you make the shift to new compliance management software, it’s vital to thoroughly tidy up and organize your existing data. Assess aspects like:
- Inconsistent naming conventions that may cause duplicate asset creation
- Missing required metadata fields leaving imported records incomplete
- Non-machine readable file formats complicate migration
Addressing identified inconsistencies beforehand minimizes disruptions when entering information into new databases. Manually complete identified metadata gaps that can’t be programmatically addressed so assets have sufficient context once transferred.
Convert unstructured data like scanned paper contracts into searchable digital formats through OCR processing. Evaluate solutions with built-in converters to streamline this document handling barrier to adoption.
Rather than activating software company-wide simultaneously, gradually rollout by department through a planned staggered schedule spanning 8-12 weeks. With concentrated training and personal support from change agents a smaller scale, users feel less overwhelmed adjusting workflows.
Set expectations across the organization that capabilities will scale up incrementally. Start with foundational agreement centralization and build towards advanced analytics.
Automating Transition Workflows
Where possible, leverage included process automation functionality or custom integrations that reduce manual governance overhead like:
- Automatically assigning data access permissions to new platform users during rollout phases based on department membership.
- Configuring contract lifecycle phase progression rules that trigger renewal reviews based on approaching expiration dates. This sustains compliance through renewals amidst procedural shakeups.
Identify other cross-departmental use cases to shift onto auto-pilot early, demonstrating system leverage while stabilizing workflows disrupted temporarily by technology change.
Measuring the Software’s Business Impact
Continually measuring the software’s impact on your business is crucial after the solution is operational. This allows you to ensure it is improving things as expected. Review performance regularly compared to the targets you set for return on investment and compliance improvement. Monitoring these areas is important:
- Contract review speed – Has the time required to get approvals, modifications, and renewals decreased by optimizing the process?
- Audit productivity – Have the internal resources needed to handle inquiries declined because centralizing data enables faster outside investigator response?
- Expense reduction – How much have costs decreased by consolidating systems? Were manual tasks automated?
- Risk mitigation – Has enhanced visibility reduced fines or legal liability for non-compliance?
- Employee efficiency – Has the workload per employee for contract oversight declined?
Iteratively refine system configurations over time to realign with shifting business priorities and evolving regulations. As protocols frequently change, ensure the platform adapts through regular impact reviews to reconfirm return on investment.
Set quarterly targets for accelerating turnaround, improving audits, and achieving budget savings. Compare against benchmarks from old manual processes. Refine corporate compliance enhancement initiatives until targets are reached in identified areas.
It is also important to get feedback from employees using the new software. Survey them regularly on ease of use, training needs, and suggestions for improvement. Monitor support ticket volumes and resolution times to gauge ongoing needs.
Consider forming a small oversight team to steer optimization efforts. Include representation from legal, compliance, IT, and operations. Have them meet monthly to review metrics and progress. Maintain focus on continual enhancement.
As you refine the system, expand compliance data collection and reporting. Add risk analysis capabilities to spot issues early. Build workflows for mitigation. Extend automation to reduce manual work. Integrate with more related systems to centralize information.
Ongoing improvement will maximize the solution’s business value over time. But it requires diligent governance to align with evolving needs. A disciplined process for regular assessment and enhancement is key to delivering lasting benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the most common pitfalls when selecting new software?
Failing to thoroughly consult internal stakeholders and map current workflows often results in mismatching tools to needs. Investing adequate time into requirements gathering helps avoid this issue.
- Can smaller firms benefit from contract compliance systems too?
Absolutely – cloud-based platforms scale to serve organizations of all sizes. Begin by prioritizing fundamental capabilities such as digital repositories, deferring advanced functionality until operational maturity justifies feature expansion.
- How do leading solutions adapt to varied international regulations?
Top systems leverage flexible, jurisdiction-specific rule engines to address regional compliance standards simultaneously. Ensure prospective options handle all globally applicable protocols before enforcing company-wide.
Given the increasing regulations and liability exposures demanding improved oversight, contract compliance management software provides measurable process enhancements. However, the market contains hundreds of platforms with varying strengths. Avoid mismatched selections or overspending by proceeding strategically.
Initially, analyze existing workflows while extensively gathering requirements across all stakeholders. Then shortlist solutions meeting fundamental needs before comparing top contenders on ease of use, security posture, and configurability. Evaluate finalists through free trials involving real agreements.
In addition to core document and workflow capabilities, prioritize AI capabilities for advanced insights over time. Rigorously plan transitions next utilizing change management best practices. Ready personnel through comprehensive training while deploying in targeted phases, continually demonstrating successes to executives.
Consistently monitor performance metrics related to compliance velocity, risk reduction, and productivity gains. Ensure the selected system keeps generating projected improvements as regulations evolve through iterative enhancements maximizing long-term fit. Embracing this meticulous approach ensures that technology investments deliver lasting and measurable organizational impact.