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How to Find a CLM Software Vendor That Makes Implementation Easier

, | January 22, 2021 | By | 4 min read

While software features are the major deciding factors when choosing a CLM software vendor, there’s another selling point you should consider: The CLM software vendor’s implementation process.

In this blog, we’ll show you how to determine if your vendor will make a good implementation partner — and how to spot red flags:

The Software Vendor Understands the Difference Between Installation & Implementation

In terms of implementation, there’s a massive difference between a CLM software vendor that merely checks the boxes and a vendor that poses the right questions, engages in thoughtful conversations, and ensures customers understand their platform use cases. The latter is what you should be looking for in a vendor: An organization that not only has significant experience installing their own platform, but understands implementations and professional services as a whole.

The beginning of implementation is also the ideal time to ask your vendor if you’re doing things the right way. Is your approval process ineffective? Ask your vendor what improvements you can make to shorten your approval cycles. Are you overengineering your contract management processes? The right vendor will not just install the software and leave you to your own devices — they’ll help you think through your existing method and simplify.

Another question to consider is how much of a time investment this will require on your own versus having the vendor lead the initiative. What does the resource set look like on the vendor side? Are they thoughtful in their approach to understanding your business processes before they dive in, or are they blindly configuring your templates and migrating your agreements? While it’s important to learn how to configure your own workflows and templates, it may not be worth investing hundreds of hours and draining your resources to configure these templates when the right vendor can help instead.

The Vendor Has a Defined Process and Methodology

No two implementations look the same, however, your vendor should have a defined process and methodology that they explain to you upfront.

The right CLM software vendor will not only walk you through the steps you need to take, but also explain why each step is important.

Look for a software vendor that provides:

  • Sample artifacts, resources, and related customer experience so that you can lead your own internal workshops and discussions
  • Best practices on how to use those documents and presentations to engage their audience and improve user adoption
    Self-service tools and on-demand resources you can use to improve your implementation experience without waiting for email or phone calls
  • Training assistance to help you adapt training to your user base and understand how to make the process more interactive

The last bullet is particularly important: Does the vendor provide the same training to everyone, or do they think about the audience they’re delivering it to? Do they make users sit through a 90-minute training when they really only need the last ten minutes, or do they think strategically about the content being delivered and participants listening? The more strategic your vendor is about training, the more engagement and buy-in you’ll gain from your team.

The Vendor Has Experience with Change Management

Implementing a new CLM software is as much about change management as it is about installing a new system. And change isn’t easy — many teams will try to cling to familiar tools and processes, so you need a vendor that can help you make the transition less daunting.

With that in mind, here are some questions to consider:

  • To ensure a smooth transition, does your vendor have sample communications they can share with you before the pilot stage? And before the platform goes live?
  • Will they participate in conversations or help you decide who should be included in the implementation process, and when they should be included?
  • What does the kickoff process look like in terms of initial stakeholder engagement?
  • How involved will the vendor be within different levels of your organization? Are they just implementing the software with one stakeholder on your side, or will they have a higher-level relationship with the account executive to think more strategically about the platform’s use and adoption?

The Vendor Can Help You Increase User Adoption

Your software won’t help you execute contracts faster if your team isn’t using it. Make sure that the vendor you choose has the right plan — and the right tools — to help you onboard your team and increase user adoption.

IntelAgree, for example, uses two tools to assist with user adoption: WalkMe and Churn Zero. WalkMe, an onboarding tool that offers step-by-step guidance for users, provides tip balloons to walk users through processes like creating a contract. This not only makes it easier for the user to interact with and learn the platform on their own, but also eliminates the need for antiquated tools — like users guides — that have to be updated as the platform evolves. ChurnZero, on the other hand, gives us visibility into how users are interacting with the platform. For example, if you assign 20 users to test your new platform, ChurnZero will tell us how many of those users actually tested it out. This information will help us, and the client, determine if more training or assistance is needed to further adoption.

So, when you’re vetting potential vendors, consider these important questions:

  • How do they provide you with data to increase adoption?
  • What training tools do they offer to further adoption?
  • Do they listen? Do they care? Are they asking what value you’re looking to get from the system?

The Vendor is Also a Great Post-Implementation Partner

Once your platform is up and running, your vendor should still be available to answer questions, communicate changes to the platform, etc.  But not all vendors offer the same post-implementation support model.

Consider asking your software vendor:

  • Does every change or update require a cost?
  • What does the ticketing process look like?
  • What’s the turnaround time for responses to questions?
  • How are they communicating changes to the platform?

You’ll want a vendor that not only engages with you when things go badly, but also genuinely wants to keep a pulse on your business and how you’re using the platform.

How to Vet Software Vendors & Identify Red Flags

You know what a good implementation process should look like with your CLM software vendor. Now, how do you start vetting them?

Start by asking your prospective vendor upfront what a sample timeline and methodology might look like. This will help you determine what will be required from you from a discovery perspective, and help you frame your thought process around implementation.

Additionally, have conversations with people outside of the vendor’s sales team. Talk to the people who are responsible for delivering the work, so you develop a level of comfort with the team you’re going to be interacting with.

And finally, look out for these red flags:

  • The vendor prefers third-party implementation. While seeking third-party help isn’t inherently bad, if they always default to a third-party for implementation, this will drive up costs and make the process less uniform.
  • The vendor claims implementation is “easy.” Legal is often the most complicated and complex function of an organization. When a vendor calls a CLM implementation process “simple,” they’re likely not going to sit down and help you think critically about ways to reduce risk and maintain compliance.
  • The vendor lacks methodology. If a vendor isn’t willing to have the implementation conversation upfront, or lacks documentation and methodology, it’s likely that their process is disorganized and chaotic.

It’s one thing to find a CLM software vendor that offers exceptional software. It’s another to find a vendor that offers exceptional software and implementation guidance. From learning a vendor’s methodology to gauging their change management expertise, use this as a guide to find a partner that excels at both.

Looking for more ways to streamline your contracts and make the most of your CLM software? Visit our blog for more contract management insights, tips, and trends.