The guys at Selectica have some great points but to make expensive enterprise software work it’s important to work a system and not to work the software:
- Don’t try and put all your contractual information in one single database at once. Not only do individuals have different ways and systems (what I call the e-Hub of someone’s daily life) from which they manage their data they may also run into legal issues around probity and confidentiality (by cross-contaminating case management with archival material). Businesses do not need to invest in costly customisation but do need to strike a financial balance between customisation and counter-intuitive vendor processes. One neat tool is to create a visual model of the deal (its structures, functions and concepts) and provide hyperlinks to the various file systems. This removes the need to develop a common taxonomy as workers now have a visual reference point (rather than a word) for their own understanding.
- With process automation it is critical to ensure that the business doesn’t codefy its culture. This will only calcify bottlenecks. A firm needs to make sure that it re-engineers its CLM process before it creates a workflow from it. Remove non-tasks and automate simple clerical work and approvals.
- The business also needs to make sure that experts are not only notified but they are also edified and contextualised. When pushing workflows out to experts, such as in-house counsel, outside counsel etc then these people must have a clear view of the dependent components of the deal’s architecture. Businesses can speed this process and reduce its costs by linking their own systems to online legal databases such as Thomson Reuters (Westlaw AU, FirstPoint), Lexis Nexis or CCH.
In summ, good contract management needs a highly cross-functional and multi-disciplinary approach if it is not only to be successful but also if it isn’t going to add additional cost and friction to business operations. Enterprise products such as Selectica’s are a great start but customers must be careful to make sure that the software supports their own system otherwise they will spend all their money and time working the software.