The promise of contract management apps makes a great deal of sense. This type of software helps companies to organize vital documents, speed up due diligence, store sensitive documents securely without compromising on accessibility, and improve productivity.
But talk to any frustrated executive who has run into issues trying to adopt contract management software in their company, and you’ll hear all about the friction they encountered. Even though the need for contract management software seems to be widely accepted, tales of failure are everywhere.
Why is it that in enterprises eager to embrace the value of contract management systems, so many efforts to implement contract management software still end in failure? A lot of this friction can be attributed to the manner in which apps were introduced to key stakeholders. But an even bigger factor is that the marketplace is cluttered with ill-conceived technology, which has meant that many aspects of the available apps simply don’t fit in well with how teams work with contracts.
At ContractZen, we’ve spent years talking to executive leaders as well as their various team members who are involved with contract-related workflows, as we’ve continuously asked ourselves: how to improve contract management and our product on the go. Along the way, we’ve learned a great deal about the key reasons why organizations sometimes fail when trying to implement a contract management solution.
Here are five factors we’ve noticed.
1. The price tag is too high
The bottom line is often the biggest issue. Most contract management solutions are made like traditional enterprise software, so they’re expensive to implement and expensive to maintain. A number of departments need to agree to dedicate large swaths of their budgets to the project, and very often they simply aren’t willing to make that sacrifice. They argue — often correctly — that they need the money for other, more pressing initiatives.
To avoid the entire conflict over the price tag, it’s best to turn to the next generation of SaaS contract management software. This type of solution is designed to be “plug and play,” with self-service onboarding and monthly subscriptions that allow for easy, penalty-free cancelation.;
SaaS contract management software doesn’t cost anything to install, configure, or maintain, and because there’s no commitment to a long-term contract, there’s no need to spend extra time (nor extra money) on long internal debates.
2. Too much time investment
Traditional contract management tools demand a high investment of time as well as money. Employees need to take time off from their regular work to train in the new tools, which can take several days. Managers and teams that are tight on time are likely to cut the training period short, causing employees to avoid using the new tools because they don’t feel confident about them, thus severely undermining ROI.
Executives also have to dedicate time towards convincing lower management levels and on-the-ground users to buy into the new software. Skipping this step results in employees quietly sidelining software that confuses them in favor of the inefficient contract management process that they’re familiar with.
If you use ContractZen, you’ll notice that the onboarding and user experience are highly intuitive. A user-friendly contract management solution doesn’t require you to spend so much time training employees. They can often get started almost immediately, and learn advanced techniques simply by exploring the system itself.
3. The solution is too confining
A big part of the problem is that most solutions demand not just new tools, but an entirely new workflow that doesn’t jive with your employees’ previous ways of processing agreements. Many tools confine users to create, share, and update contracts in only one way, demanding that they abandon the methods that have worked well for years.
Understandably enough, this tends to create resentment. It generates a resistance to change which can doom the project before it’s fairly begun. If your employees have a bad feeling towards the new software, they’re likely to avoid using it at all.
To cut through all the resentment and mistrust that can pile up around new contract management solutions, try a more flexible system that slots into your existing workflows instead of going against the grain. Introduce software that integrates with your current methods for creating and editing contracts, so that hidebound users (like lawyers, for example) can still use Microsoft Word to write and edit contract files if they prefer, and then switch to your new platform to place assets in a central, secure repository that makes them easier to find, collaborate on, share, discuss and get signed.
4. The access controls are too complex
The intricate access controls offered by most contract management solutions are far too complex to be practical in most enterprises. Even in medium-sized organizations, employees come and go, people are promoted or shifted sideways between departments, and due diligence periods begin and end with different third parties.
Access permissions need to be updated almost constantly, which is a problem when digital governance settings are too complex. Few companies can afford to appoint a dedicated employee just for managing user rights.
That’s why it’s so important to look for a solution with a user permission system that’s easy to use. You need software that can be quickly updated to add or remove users or adjust access permissions whenever roles change or an audit comes to an end.
5. Documents aren’t easy to find
All too many contract management solutions keep your documents so secure that you can’t find them again. With these solutions, if you don’t remember to name each file with the right keywords, they can end up lost in the ether indefinitely.
Some platforms also lack a fast way to transfer legacy documents, which means that you can end up with multiple parallel systems and no way of remembering where anything is.
This makes it crucial to check that your proposed contract management solution offers intuitive and powerful search capabilities, enabling you to search within a document as well as the tags and titles. You want a solution that doesn’t just store your contracts but will give them back again when you need them.
Find success by selecting the right agile tools
Introducing a new contract management solution can be fraught with challenges, but the right software can smooth most of them away. ContractZen works hard to help you achieve better contract management by creating an intuitive, easy-to-use system that drags down the time and money cost of enabling a new contract management software.
Selecting a solution that integrates with existing workflows and tools, has simple yet powerful access controls, and offers strong search functions can go a long way towards successfully implementing a contract management solution.