IT Leaders Must Drive the Digital Contracting Evolution

Year over year, more steps of the contracting workflow are being managed digitally. Signatures are being captured electronically, agreements are being negotiated in the cloud and notarization is happening remotely. Too often, these steps are one-off initiatives, driven from the bottom up by individual lines of business looking to address the specific needs of their team. While that approach might solve individual LOB problems, it can create problems at scale.

To be clear, it’s good that teams are looking for technologies that can simplify agreement work. The problem is that if two LOBs at the same organization solve the problem in different ways (or with different technologies), the efficiencies are lost when those two teams need to work together. A hodgepodge stack of mismatched point solutions unintentionally ends up creating expensive new blockers and introducing new risks. That Frankenstein system creates two new problems for each one that it solves.

The only way to fix disconnected agreement workflows is to zoom out and think bigger. Look for an opportunity to adopt a purpose-built Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) tool, that can be implemented across LOBs from the top down and address a myriad of cross-pillar agreement inefficiencies. A well-planned central CLM can reduce IT expenses by eliminating redundant technologies and reducing the number of data access points to manage. A solution that centralizes agreement visibility while integrating with popular LOB tools will lead to a higher adoption rate, better ROI and better business outcomes.

CLM implementation is an opportunity for IT leaders to drive change

The solution that unites the LOBs on agreement work will be technological, so the leader who needs to drive that initiative is the IT executive. In a business environment that expects IT leaders to build bridges across the organization and increase efficiency, a transformational CLM solution is a logical starting point. As a department that has historically been considered a budget blocker, CLM implementation is a chance to get rid of that stigma and make a new mark as an operational catalyst.

CLM implementation isn’t just a replacement for point solutions, it’s a digital rewiring of the way the whole organization operates. It gives IT leaders the chance to work across lines of business to understand agreement processes and collaboratively drive a digital transformation to solve the biggest problems. As Saran Mandair, GVP of Global Infrastructure and Technology at Docusign, noted: “It's about finding new innovative ways to deliver value to your customers, internal customers, and staying ahead of the competition.”

IT leaders have long played a role in broad campaigns to work across functions, but it’s rare that they get a chance to lead those initiatives. CLM is a great opportunity to partner with key LOB stakeholders and provide real value for members throughout their teams. It’s more than just increased visibility, it’s a chance to have a tangible impact to improve the day-to-day experience of everyone in the organization who works with agreements. Mandair adds that in order to really move the needle on transformation projects “both sides need to come to the table and figure out what are the key business objectives and what is above the line and what's below the line.”

An organization-wide CLM tool is also a chance to make a lasting impression on the CEO. Ernst and Young’s contracting survey reports that CEO’s top contracting priorities are reducing costs, reducing risk, digitizing operations and enabling growth. IT leaders can do all of that with a modern CLM tool.

It’s also worth mentioning that the AI-powered contracting systems of the future will rely on a central repository to contain all agreement-related data. Matt Francis, partner and CTO at IBM, noted that the biggest obstacle for customers considering AI and generative AI technology is trusted data. “Do they trust the data that they're going to use in this generative AI? Is there governance in place to govern the use of large language models, prompts and the data that's going to go in those models?” he said.

As teams continue to approach new technology with cautious enthusiasm, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for the AI-powered contracting system of the future. ​​Installing a wide and deep CLM tool is an excellent way to store and structure data in and about contracts. It’s a very beneficial first step for teams with the goal of utilizing AI in later stages of their digital agreement transformation.

What to expect from a CLM tool

For most IT leaders, a CLM tool is a new project that they’ll be implementing for the first time. With a first-time deployment, it’s hard to know what to expect or how they can be sure that the implementation is working correctly. Here’s a quick overview of some ways you can monitor the impact of CLM on day-to-day operations:

  • Speed: First and foremost, you should expect to see a substantial increase in the speed at which your business operates. 2020 Forrester research commissioned by Docusign found that CLM customers can see a 20-day reduction in contract processing time and 83% faster time to value.
  • Efficiency: Your team should see a noticeable change in their efficiency and a reduction in manual contract agreement tasks. It will also have a positive impact on customer transaction speed.
  • Value: After implementing a CLM successfully, you’ll see more value captured from your contracts because of friendlier terms. It’s not uncommon for Docusign CLM customers to increase their contract value by 20% or more.

Beyond those tactical metrics, a CLM solution will also help achieve several critical executive-level goals. For example, by replacing individual point solutions in your workflow, a CLM reduces the total number of tools connected to your overall stack, which makes it easier to protect against a data breach. It also simplifies ongoing compliance efforts since there are fewer tools to keep up to date. For any digital transformation effort, integration with the tools your organization already uses is key for ensuring high adoption, satisfaction and success. Those factors all correlate with a great ROI.

Ensuring a successful CLM implementation

Despite all the benefits of CLM, getting teams to buy in and commit to adoption can be difficult. Francis cautions that “where customers get it wrong is understanding what is success. Transformation is a journey, it's not a destination.” Experienced implementation services providers like IBM have seen firsthand how important commitment to implementation is for the success of CLM. Their team has worked through successful CLM implementations for teams of all sizes across any industry. That experience has helped them develop a core set of best practices to follow for a smooth CLM deployment.

By pairing the expertise of IBM with Docusign CLM (a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CLM for four years running), your team has the best chance at a successful implementation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the opportunity for IT leaders to execute a successful CLM implementation and rise to the level of changemaker in their organization, watch CIO Dive's free webinar with Matt Francis (partner and global CTO for Salesforce at IBM) and Saran Mandair (GVP global infrastructure & operations at Docusign). They discuss the hidden costs of a disjointed contracting system, explain how Docusign CLM can improve agreement productivity and share keys to leading a successful technology transformation.