Want to Buy a Contract Management System? Here Are a Few Questions You Need to Ask [PRO]

Gajus/AdobeStock

Buying a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) application can seem daunting. There are so many stakeholders who touch contracts. We can’t imagine any more foundational commercial business application than contract management that affects so many stakeholders. And at the same time, there are so many market choices.

Trust us, we live these every day. We have over 50 functional requirements within our CLM SolutionMap evaluation database, and there are many requirements that are simply table stakes: version control, role-based access, contract renewal alerts, contract templates, and even basic clause libraries are becoming commodity functionality.

However, there are only a handful of decision points in the decision tree to get down to the few providers that will meet your needs.

First, you have to decide whether you need just pure buy-side capabilities or whether you also need sell-side capabilities and support for employee contracts as well (i.e., whether you really need truly enterprise-wide CLM). If you need strong sell-side functionality, then you’ll immediately be able to knock out some buy-side players, even some of the main procurement suite players.

Next, you’ll need to decide on whether to go with a broader suite or a “mini-suite” provider, or whether you only need just core CLM capabilities. A “mini-suite” can take many forms. Some providers combine CLM plus some sourcing functionality, and others combine CLM with supplier management capabilities (and some have even broader risk/compliance functionality). For practitioners that want to look at some custom combinations of providers, we now support custom SolutionMaps that cross multiple areas so that you can create a true custom SolutionMap rather than just our persona-based maps for various solution types. Contact me if you’d like to discuss this.

And there’s always the issue of whether your IT department prefers the solution to run on existing application infrastructure, whether it’s your ERP system or a SharePoint platform. Hopefully these aren’t hard constraints because there’s only so far that you’ll get with a document-centric approach! You can get to a certain level of capability by adding metadata to contract documents, but until you can model the contract data itself, you’re only going to get so far.

Finally, there’s a handful of unique detailed functionality that really separates the various players. Some of these areas will become more commoditized in the next few years, but others are not so easily solved by marching through the “Feature 500” list. Although the rest of this analysis is for Spend Matters PRO level members only, we welcome our Spend Matters Plus practitioner subscribers to contact us and we’ll send you a copy of this full analysis.

For full access to this PRO content: