Planning Business Process Improvement in Contract Management

Here's a step-by-step approach to implementing a contract lifecycle management initiative in your company.


Budgeting
In the budgeting phase, determine how much of the budget to consume over different periods of time. In most cases, spending incrementally in phases is the best approach, since it allows you to balance rewards with risk. In today's economic environment, quick and near-term wins will ensure additional budget allocations can be garnered in the future.

Change Management
Change management is the approach taken to manage the people-side of change. Business process transformation initiatives that fail to plan for the human side often go awry. As you build a business case for the CLM initiative, systematically address the people-side of change. The approach should focus on education of the value proposition to end users, selection of technology that minimizes change and extensive training. According to recent work by Booz Allen Hamilton, "this demands as much data collection and analysis, planning, and implementation discipline as does a redesign of strategy, systems, or processes" ("10 Principles of Change Management," by John Jones, DeAnne Aguirre and Matthew Calderone, strategy+design magazine, Booz Allen Hamilton, April 14, 2004).

Technology Evaluation
In the project planning phase, be sure to perform an in-depth requirements analysis whereby you map your business processes to CLM technology capabilities. Once that's complete, evaluate each product or solution thoroughly to make sure the technology and service provider is a fit from the perspective of business process support. Some CLM service providers deliver services to scope out the initiative. If your organization is large, taking advantage of these services could save time, mitigate risk and increase the CLM initiative's time-to-value.

Technology Assessment

In the technology assessment phase of building the CLM business case, it is useful to break out the evaluation of competing technologies into six main categories. Key areas to assess are the class of the solution, business process focus, approach, architecture, integration and the technology itself.

In terms of the class of the solution, determine whether it is an extension solution such as those offered by enterprise resource planning (ERP), procurement, or sales automation vendors; whether it is a "lite" vs. enterprise solution; or whether it is a best-of-breed solution.

As you evaluate the business process focus of the technology, determine whether it is more focused on pre-execution, post-execution or some of both. Most organizations will begin with the pre-execution aspects of contract management — a logical starting point.

As you look at the solution's overriding approach, consider how well it manages the desktop- or MS Word-based aspects of the contracting process. Another example would be to evaluate whether you need a solution to support a structured data vs. unstructured data contract management approach. Usually, there's a trade off between the two.

As you assess the technology architecture, determine what degree of flexibility the solution has, if any. If your organization is growing or you expect to expand the CLM solution across the enterprise at a later time, a scalable, flexible solution that can expand with the company's CLM needs is essential.

When evaluating the technology solution's integration capabilities consider the integration framework underlying the products, and involve a technology specialist within your organization with this exercise.

Lastly, assess the technology itself against your prevailing standards for systems.

Implementing a CLM solution will require business process transformation in order to create value for your organization. Since CLM initiatives are not yet widespread and existing initiatives are still early in their lifecycle, building a business case for CLM requires a good planning methodology. Good planning for CLM will ensure alignment of business objectives with your end solution. In short, the planning factors you will need to incorporate in building your CLM business case are goal-setting, scoping, project planning, and technology assessment.

About the Author: Atif Rafiq is the president and CEO of Covigna.

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