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How to overcome 5 contract lifecycle management challenges

How to overcome 5 contract lifecycle management challenges

How to overcome 5 contract lifecycle management challengesKrysta Johnson
Senior Legal and Business Operations Manager

For many teams, contract processes are stuck in the past. You know that faster contracts mean faster business, but you’re not sure how to overcome the challenges presented by your contract lifecycle management processes (CLM). 

These outdated practices are particularly painful when you add up the expense of paying lawyers to spend hours in manual work. To make managing contracts easier—and close deals faster—choose a CLM that automates the work of legal, sales, and finance teams. 

Consider these five contract lifecycle management challenges and our recommendations for overcoming them. 

1. Difficulty tracking down and storing contracts

With so many different stakeholders involved in drafting legal agreements, it's not unusual to find contracts stored in multiple different repositories. Approvals, changes, and redlines are scattered throughout your system. Some were left in email, others are in Word, and that NDA from last week is still in DocuSign. It's almost impossible to keep track of the status of all your contracts.

Even the completed documents are stored all over—Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint, or that antiquated metal file cabinet sitting in the back corner. Such disparate storage "solutions" leave you scrambling to stay organized and timely. A simple request to review a contract leads to playing email tag all day with multiple team members trying to answer questions and sort out different drafts.

The best CLMs provide centralized and searchable repositories. It’s like Google for your contracts—just search “Standard NDA” or “marketing vendor” and your contract software will automatically pull the data you need. 

In Lexion, we also use chatbots to answer contract questions in the channels your company uses most, like Teams and Slack. And contracts are stored where they’re needed. For example, in Salesforce, your sales reps can see the contracts alongside their deals, immediately after they're signed—which means no more email tag. 

2. Limited visibility into processes and information

Expiration dates, renewal dates, cancellation deadlines, and other key pieces of information are buried in your contracts. When other departments need specific information from a contract, the legal team has to spend half the morning looking for it.

If you want your business to work together towards their goals, the contracting process and priorities need to be clear. Contract managers need a reliable method for determining what needs to be worked on today, what can wait until next week, and what should have been done last week.

A contract lifecycle management solution with automatic contract organization helps you to instantly locate the contract you need so you can analyze and report on it. Expiration, renewal, and cancellation deadlines are calculated for you, allowing you to set up email alerts for upcoming dates easily (ahem, no forgotten auto-renewal deadline). You can also easily see the status of all open tasks and take action on any stuck projects.

This improved visibility not only helps legal teams, but helps the whole business get deals done faster. 

3. Lack of buy-in from non-legal departments 

You know your CLM challenges cost your company a fortune and slow down everyone's workflow. However, even when you find an excellent contract tool, other stakeholders don’t want to adopt it. Other departments aren't interested in investing a lot of time and effort into learning new systems just to make the legal department's job easier.

Other staff members want to keep using Slack, Salesforce, Teams, and email like they always have. They don't see the benefit of learning a new platform. After all, they can quickly shoot off an email to the legal department when they need information, and you'll find it for them. Whether they want signed contracts to be filed or they need contract drafts, reviews, or e-signatures, their current method of communicating is working for them.

The best CLM solutions call for minimal change management. Your sales team can stay in Salesforce. Your marketing team can send their requests and collaborate via email. Your legal team can edit their contracts in Word.

This is how we’ve built Lexion. From the staff's perspective, nothing has changed. Behind the scenes, however, the legal department has access to a dashboard for responding to these email requests. Lexion puts you in control and reduces the time and headaches involved in getting contracts through the pre-signature stage and on to signatures and filing.

4. Frequent redlining with poor version control

While standard agreements are great at reducing contract-related risk and streamlining your legal process, redlines are often necessary with contract negotiation. There’s nothing wrong with this; when done right, redlining contracts means that both parties walk away with what they want. But the back-and-forth of the redlining process means multiple versions of the contract exist. 

This lack of version control often occurs because disparate software solutions are used. Each party creates, downloads, and compares new versions in different programs, and relies on email to share the revised versions. You can increase your security—and decrease your legal liability—by using a CLM with built-in version control. 

Because 91% of contracting leaders prefer Microsoft Word for redlines, Lexion built a Word add-in that makes version control a breeze (jump between solutions at the click of a button and automatically upload the latest draft to your CLM). Whatever contract software you use, you should be able to track the differences between the branched files automatically. 

This lets you retain the original source while keeping the latest version right where you need it. 

5. Inability to measure performance 

While the rest of the company leaders are sitting in executive meetings reporting the success of their departments with beautifully graphed key performance indicators, the legal department often struggles to track performance. At best, you’re manually piecing together data from emails, sales dashboards, and spreadsheets. 

With such an opaque workflow, it's almost impossible to measure the volume of work being done, how long it's taking, where bottlenecks are happening, and who's working on what. Legal departments are more than cost centers—you’re strategic business partners—but that can be hard to prove without metrics. 

As a legal and operations solution, we’ve heard this pain point many times. You want to track and report on KPIs by task type, project owner, and status. You want to automatically calculate contract review volume and average time to review.

A great contract management system will do more than centralize and simplify your workflow. Our AI-powered technology lets you run reports across thousands of contracts to answer complex legal questions in seconds. No more spending hours manually opening contracts and hitting Ctrl+F to find the relevant language and then paste it into a spreadsheet.

Instead, you can just ask Lexion a question such as, "Which customers can cancel their contract at any time?" and you get results in seconds.

Modernizing Contract Management, Closing Deals Faster

Contracts don’t need to live in the stone age. With a powerful CLM, you can overcome contracting challenges and enter the digital-first era. 

If you want to learn more about Lexion’s AI-driven contract solution, let us know.


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