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The Two Most Impactful Ways to Increase CLM User Adoption

April 22, 2022

contract lifecycle management CLM implementation contracting CLM user adoption

The attached article talks about the results of a survey of in-house lawyers and their legal tech adoption. Not surprisingly, adoption is low. One of the systems that has had the most challenges with adoption is Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM).

Instead of writing an ambiguous treatise on why CLM adoption is essential or how one needs to frame it, I’ll share two tried-and-true methods that significantly improve CLM user adoption. These are based on 15 years of battlefield learnings and implementing programs and services directly targeted at increasing user adoption.

Method 1: Roll Out a Single Source of Truth Contract Repository for Every Workflow and Contract Type Configured in the CLM

Why is that such a revelation? Well, it’s because I see time and time again how companies who have licensed a CLM jump to automating intake, drafting, negotiation, and approval workflow and push to a later phase, the creation of a repository. It rarely works well. Why?

Imagine this. A lawyer who is successfully working their queue of work (always longer than any human can complete in a month) has figured out how to prioritise and ‘get it done’ so that they can go home to their family at night. Maybe the lawyer uses stone tablets and chisels to get the work done but it works.

Suddenly, the GC, Legal Operations, and CLM implementation teams talk about the beauty of CLM workflow and how amazing it will be. Perhaps it will be. However, it represents a change. People often look askance at any change that disrupts ‘something that works.’ However, suppose a lawyer at least receives some gratification in that all the contracts they are responsible for reviewing and negotiating are available at their fingertips in a repository. In that case, their willingness to accept a change in workflow is that much greater. Simple yet poignant. Ask someone to do something but give them something else as an incentive. More often than not, that someone is more willing to accept the change. Human nature is not a revelation.

This incentive works. Trust me. I’ve seen it over and over and over.

Method 2: Create a User Support Service 

This unique, exclusive experience is a tried-and-true user adoption method. It works; it simply does. Imagine this – the target users of your CLM system are the commercial/sales teams. The goal is to give them more control over the contracting process. (I’ve heard they complain the law department is the sales prevention department!) The commercial contracts include standards for legal provisions, and alternate clauses are loaded into the CLM system so the sales team can select them without legal involvement. This ‘self-serve’ contracting should not just accelerate time to revenue but also result in more efficient use of lawyer resources.

So, what’s the issue? The target users are primarily measured on revenue generation, not on beautiful contracting. Contracting is a means to an end. However, the expectation is that salespeople should change their workflow and use a system that isn’t part of their normal duties, resulting in the need for change management.

Elevate supported implementing a CLM system at one of the largest footwear retailers on the planet. One of the key target user groups was the sports marketing team. These professionals excelled at relationships with athletes (not just the big names but also rank-and-file athletes). Putting a representation contract in front of them codified the relationship but was not the bulk of their role. Our team provided support services 16 hours a day, six days a week to these users. They could call an internal number, hit’ 2,’ and get routed to a support professional. This support professional walked the sports marketer through creating an agreement, editing the terms, sending it for instant approval, and teeing up an e-signature process for the athlete to ensure a rapid contract execution. The sports marketing professional could now focus on the relationship and not worry about the contracting mechanics. User adoption went to more than 75% within months of the CLM system launch. A pretty big win.

Some may question the wisdom of such a human-centric service in 2022. That’s precisely the point. Companies have recognised that technology is an enabler, not an elixir and that at some point, they need to involve humans in high touch interactions with other humans. The fancy way the industry has found to capitulate that technology has its limitations is to give it a name –  “Humans in the Loop”, or HITL. A catchy acronym, but ultimately, to get humans to accept change requires humans.

Implement these two strategies, and you, too, will see user adoption skyrocket and your executive stakeholders ecstatic about the ROI.

80% of respondents said they’d failed at least once to adopt new tech—nearly 40% said it was because the implementation process took too long, while 36% said the tech was too complicated to use.

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