Setting up, configuring and implementing contract automation and CLM raises many how-to and when-to questions. Below are the answers to the most pressing questions, helping you to define your own roadmap to a successful CLM implementation or a roll-out of contract automation.
Of course, implementing contract automation or implementing CLM (contract lifecycle management) only succeeds if you are successful in your change management: getting your team to embrace contract automation and CLM. Weagree has adopted a complete framework of nine parameters of change management for a successful CLM implementation (and indeed implement contract automation).
A success factor of the framework is to effectively communicating the steps of implementing contract lifecycle management or CLM. A head of legal or GC must script the critical moves; it removes uncertainty. Uncertainty is what creates resistance. What the critical moves are, is described below.
In defining the milestones of a successful CLM implementation, consider:
The better you align your CLM implementation milestones for these three aspects, the more successful your implementation of contract lifecycle management will likely be. A complete implementation of contract automation and contract lifecycle management will lead to:
These two may be supported by AI-driven contract review (with AI-driven data extraction from contracts) and AI-driven contract risk assessment. Part of your project will include integration with your e-signing provider. And all this may be reinforced by implementing approval workflows and automated tasks.
Implementing CLM or contract automation in a large organisation is not fundamentally different from implementing it in small teams. In large organisations, you would implement team-by-team or business unit-by-business unit or user group-by-user group. Allow yourself time and chances to learn (and fail) and to optimise. After an initial implementation project, you can implement more teams, business units or user groups in parallel (or even approach them as one community).
Your challenge in large organisations does not necessarily relate to the functional configuration and implementation, but rather in the change management aspects of getting your team to actually work with contract automation and the CLM. Therefore, ask yourself whether the organisation is ready (and consider the nine parameters of change management).
Implementation of CLM, end-to-end contracting and contract automation can start with:
Communicate that you are about to automate contracting processes from start to finish.
The steering group that will coordinate the implementation of CLM and contract automation should be consistent with the milestones you want to achieve (see above). Important expertises:
Depending on your API-integration plan, you may want to have people from the IT-department involved.
In all steps of implementing CLM and contract automation, you should keep an eye on the change management aspects.
Do not underestimate that team members may find certain steps more important than you do, and that you may lose their commitment when deciding not to pursue that part of the implementation (or postpone it): show leadership all the way and seek consensus.
The first steps in implementing CLM are:
In every step of your CLM implementation roadmap, keep an eye on the change management challenges. Some key stakeholders may find certain aspects more relevant. Losing their commitment should be avoided: seek consensus.
Realise that at this early stage, you might not know who your best ambassadors of adopting the change would be. You may think you know, but that should only be an assumption. For example, if you find your organisation’s contract house style irrelevant (and decide not to care about it), still some team members might be engaged if they can contribute to those less crucial parts of your project.
Communicate the steps to be taken in the implementation of CLM and contract automation, and indicate what you expect from the stakeholders involved.
The best start of your implementation journey is most likely with contract automation. This is because after automating contracts (with all variables and data triggers reflected in a questionnaire), you will already have:
While configuring Weagree CLM takes only a few hours, importing or migrating your legacy contracts will require much effort. You would collect and organise all printed contracts, unstructured storage of contract scans and any spreadsheets containing metadata.
At the start of implementing CLM, you should anyhow have a high-level idea of the external applications your contract automation or CLM will need to integrate with. Most API-integrations can be completed at a later stage (not having an API-integration in place does not necessarily create legacy data or other complications).
Starting without integrations may well generate a justified (initial) return on investment. API-integrations that you may want to consider include:
Depending on your relationship with and commitment from your IT department, you may plan or postpone the API-integrations with other applications. (Consider limiting integrations initially to single sign-on.)
Realise, however, that great benefits also result from efficiency-driving integrations and that if end-users experience these benefits themselves, change management may be easier. Very significant benefits of IT-landscape-integrated contract automation and contract management often remain hidden because many people underestimate the time lost by administrative or manual work.
It is very well possible to postpone this part to a later stage of implementing CLMM or contract automation, and just be accurate when inserting the legal entity names during the questionnaire. Because Weagree has a fully integrated party database and excellent migration tooling, you can implement the larger-scope entity management at any later point in time. Your timing at the start of implementing entity management may depend on:
Your first steps for implementing legal entity management and integrating CRM, will vary depending on the maturity of your corporate housekeeping and how your organisation manages CRM-contacts – see also below.
Implementing e-signing into your contract automation can be done at any time. Setting it up a basic configuration takes only a few minutes.
During the first stage, you will probably work well with non-preselected e-signatories: the first generation of end-users will have to select the correct authorised e-signatory from a long list; in most cases this works fine. Your implementation of e-signing in contract automation can be a quick win.
If you will do the template-insertion work yourself, then you should do the admin trainings shortly before you will start inserting the templates. If Weagree (or a Weagree-integrator) undertakes the template-insertion work, the admin training sessions should be followed only after the first ‘big’ templates have been inserted and are ready to be tested for acceptance.
How much time does it take to undertake admin work? The admin training sessions altogether take only four to five hours; do not plan to complete them on one day only.
After the admin training sessions, it will take a beginner (who does not have two left hands) some five contract templates of various kinds and complexities to familiarise themselves and get ‘up to speed’. The admin training sessions should enable an admin to insert most or all of the templates, of any complexity. There may be special issues, tips or tricks for which additional training or coaching would be helpful, but this is usually manageable ‘as you go’, with very limited additional time needed.
Whom of your team should be admin trained? The persons who should follow the admin trainings may well include the end-responsible Head of legal or General Counsel, as the training sessions (in any event the first sessions) give a good insight in functionalities and the potential of the Weagree Wizard. So indeed, even senior managers will benefit from the admin training sessions, if only for the first sessions.
From a change management perspective, it is strongly recommended that you start small: the first stage of implementing contract automation is time-consuming and only adds to the day-to-day work (but your benefits also come immediately).
Engaging your team entails activating the right people, so be selective on first-users and on first-user-communities. Having an innovation-averse or even cynic person in the initial group of end-users must be discouraged. Automating contracts entails numerous (small) process changes or tweaks in the regular way of working for every person involved, all with big impact. Allow yourself to discover those tweaks and to learn for the second stage communities (where being able to ‘script the critical moves’ is more needed). Put simply: at least initially, permit yourself time to implement.
There may be good reasons to go for a big bang as many benefits of contract automation are ‘hidden’:
The question may seem rhetoric, but it is not. ‘The business’ tends to have different drivers and hesitations than a legal counsel. Business managers will typically rely on the automated contracts to be ready-to-go (and as they tend to trust the generated contract more easily – especially if the Q&A questions were ‘meaningful’, business-oriented). Indeed, this means that you will achieve quick successes, and generate user stories that resonate in the entire organisation.
Legal counsel tend to believe that a substantial part of their work requires context-specific tailoring, and they will often perceive the time needed to review the Q&A-driven automated contract to be more time-consuming ( ! ) than picking their personal contract template and last-week’s deal sample and rework the mix to fit the current context. Weagree’s clause library and realtime editor (the under-water-screen where they can tweak the contract while answering the questionnaire) reduce this, but cannot entirely take away this perception.
In many implementations of contract automation, once the right first batch of contracts have been automated and legal counsel have familiarised themselves with contract automation and optimised the contract template and related questionnaire, it is a good idea to roll out to the business.
A flip side of such approach may also be that the business has already experienced the process improvements achieved by legal counsel, and will not accept that they are taking over what is thought to be the legal department’s work. Delegating contract automation work to ‘the business’ after implementation did not succeed in respect of the legal department may not be a bypass of implementation challenges: if ‘the business’ believes that contract creation is essentially the responsibility of legal counsel (and do not wish to contract without the prior ‘sign-off’ by ‘legal’), they will likely revert to legal counsel (for answering the questionnaire together), while the latter will then likely revert to their personal contract template and last week’s deal sample.
Here is an example of a mindmap for the implementation of contract automation:
The mindmap for implementing contract automation can easily be further expanded, elaborating on each of the dimensions:
When implementing contract automation, select the first model contracts by reference to your business case:
Our advice: reduce model contract upgrading work as much as possible. Be pragmatic and don’t underestimate the challenges to come.
The model-contract-upgrading part of implementing contract automation is time-consuming, may have lost credibility among the legal department decades ago, because every legal counsel has their opinion (and you cannot easily ignore that while it is also hard to contradict any legal opinions, including for your ‘exotic jurisdictions’). Presumably, your most-frequently used contracts are of good quality to start without much Select the contracts-for-automation based on your priority for improvement.
Inadequately tested templates are the root of distrust in contract automation. This is especially true for large templates. That is why Weagree has developed several powerful features to make sure that inserted templates can be tested adequately and released quickly.
Testing a template has several aspects:
Weagree’s testing tooling minimises testing work and time. If the admin has done their work, testing should not take much more time than going through a questionnaire somewhat extensively. In other words, upon creating the first automated contract, a user should achieve their ‘return on investment’.
Template testing features include:
The best timing of following the admin training depends on whether you will be undertaking the actual template-insertion work yourself or engage Weagree or one of our integrators.
Since contract automation will change the way you look at your (model) contracts and model clauses, it will be useful for every legal counsel, even a Head of legal or general counsel, to follow the first sessions of the admin training. The insights will help in understanding how easy it is to automate contracts and to keep automated templates up-to-date, and in acknowledging that some template changes are just easier when adopted in a certain way.
This is not really a choice: in order to upload or migrate your legacy contracts (i.e. the contracts that are already signed and operational)¸ you first need to configure the fields on which contracts will be managed. Of course, you can limit this to the contract basics (party names, starting date, duration, automatic extension, expiry date), but it takes 30 minutes to complete the list of CLM data fields. The Weagree CLM is preconfigured with a basic set of the common CLM contract data fields: you can tailor it easily to your needs.
You may prefer to postpone differentiating for various specific types of contracts. However, for certain ‘obvious’ types of contracts, it may be helpful to remove those of the general CLM contract sheet (as it will clutter your overview). For example, you may prefer to keep out the numerous NDA’s from your signed master services agreements.
In implementing a CLM, it is a good idea to distinguish for the type of contracts managed through the CLM. After all, every type of contract has its particular data on which you want to monitor, organise or manage contracts.
It is not helpful to mix sales contracts in the CLM with purchase contracts, and it does not improve your insights in CLM contracts and contract data if the key contracts are cluttered with NDA’s or data processing agreement. You can achieve this by defining separate CLM contract sheets for the various types of contracts.
Considerations for creating separate CLM contract sheets include:
While it is a good idea to manage NDA’s and DPA (data processing agreements) separate from the other commercial contracts (so, in separate CLM contract sheets), if you deem that these agreements do not require separate CLM treatment, you may as well include them in the repository of the contract to which they naturally relate.
Considerations for ‘merging’ the NDA’s and DPA’s would be that the business does not work with framework agreements, master services agreements. Note however, that NDA’s precede the contract to which they relate and that confidentiality obligations are usually overriding any such NDA.
At the initial stages of CLM implementation, you will probably limit CLM-managed contract milestones to the basic data of contract management. This is likely limited to the high level of data that are key from a legal perspective:
These are relatively straightforward data that are likely to be addressed in every contract. If you anticipate that the company may at some stage in the future be taken over, you should make sure that contract data that may influence the value and business-continuity of the company are being recorded in the CLM.
A key feature of every CLM are the notifications of upcoming contract deadlines and contract expiration. By default, Weagree contains a predefined set of all commonly used notification texts. You can modify the texts of those notification (or the tone of voice) to your liking. You can also translate the notifications into more appropriate language.
Part of configuring CLM contract sheets is the determination of all notifications that are to be sent in connection with the contract deadlines or upcoming expiry or renewal of contracts. In the CLM contract sheet, for each date or deadline, the admin can intuitively identify:
Yes, the email notifications template of Weagree can be replaced easily by your own.
We recommend that you contact your communications department for a template (e.g. the one that is used for your company’s newsletters or internal communications). What you need is the html-mailing template, as that automatically adjusts the email depending on whether they are opened on mobile devices or laptop screens. This could be from Mailchimp, SendGrid, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, etc. On the place where the Weagree CLM notification text must appear, you must insert the word BODY (in all-caps) between double square brackets: [[BODY]]
Once you have implemented contract lifecycle management, you want to elevate the use of the CLM to the next level. Contract management should become a living part of the business, not limited to being the ‘hobby of legal’. There are several ways in which you will likely be able to optimise contract management processes.
You will achieve this by defining various reporting and monitoring filters and add these CLM filters to your reporting and analysis dashboard.
After the initial stage of implementing CLM, you will likely want to optimise transparency of contract data and further optimise the insights in contract. In Weagree, you will achieve this by defining reporting and monitoring filters tailored to the particularities of your own contracts. This sounds abstract but is very easy and takes only a few minutes to set up.
Setting up reporting and monitoring filters can be done on every Weagree page, including on the dedicated reporting and analysing page: click Advanced search options and define for which parameters you want to define a reporting and monitoring filter. Click Search and then ‘buttonise’ your search. This will create a button on that page, and the button will automatically appear as a Personal Widget that you can drag and drop on your dashboard.
Where contract approval workflows lead to an end-user’s right to generate a Word-contract (or PDF), approvals may be triggered by Q&A-answers, as well as on template-level, the transaction anyhow. Almost everything related to activating and implementing contract approval workflows is happening automatically (and anyhow intuitively).
A straightforward one-step contract approval workflow (in a simple organisation with one person or small team collegially involved in approvals) requires no more than a few template-level steps to activate and configure. To configure the approval workflows:
If desired, you can tailor the email notification texts (as predefined by Weagree) to your own liking or tone of voice.
To keep the CLM up to date and to prevent that you forget any tasks related to a contract, whether during the precontractual (contract creation) stage or after signing of CLM-managed contracts, you may want to finetune Weagree’s contract tasks management. Most of the contract-tasks have been configured automatically, but you may want to finetune the default settings for each type of contract task.
The default parameters that you may want to configure are:
If you do not have an entity management solution or if it is mainly ‘analogue’ (a traditional, offline, physical archive where all details on all legal entities are maintained), you can choose several ways:
If you have a legacy entity management solution that you want to discontinue, you can migrate those data into Weagree. Weagree has excellent, flexible migration tooling that is capable of handling many data formats. For example, a spreadsheet works well, even if it consisting of several sheets for the various types of entity details.
If you have a mature, fully fledged entity management solution, you will likely want to continue this. Your next step would be to set up an API-integration. Accordingly, when creating a contract or registering a signed contract in Weagree CLM, you will sync the correct entity details of the relevant party with that (external) entity management solution. This works smoothly and in a controlled manner: the Weagree Wizard will allow the end-user to select the correct legal entity from the external solution, and will identify if any already available data are ‘in sync’ or outdated (and will allow you to update the data in Weagree).
Implementing legal entity management and corporate housekeeping starts with collecting all documentation related to legal entities. Per legal entity of the group, you will need to collect the following documents and information:
If part of the above information is already in a spreadsheet or database, consider importing it through Weagree’s CLM-migration tooling. Although this is relatively easy, we are happy to assist you with this.
In collecting the data, you should upload and enter them all in Weagree’s entity management. The org chart is created automatically, provided that the shareholdings (incl. percentages of voting rights and financial rights) have been entered.
If you have all those data collected on SharePoint or any other DMS, you may link up with those documents through Weagree’s API-integration. Any of those documents in printed (physical) form should be scanned.
Yes, these data fields can be added and managed on the Administrator page and will be shown on the general legal entity’s overview page. However, most of the desired fields are already available – we are lawyers, after all.
Assuming that you have configured DocuSign already, all you need to do to manage the entire e-signing process from within Weagree is (i) to activate e-signing, and (ii) to enter the authentication keys and DocuSign (or other) URL in the administrator tooling (e-signing plugin).
That is basically all to get started.
After an initial stage of implementing e-signing, you will likely want to optimise of the e-signing process and take out remaining inconveniences:
Implementing API-integrations with Weagree CLM is fairly easy and can be done without the support of Weagree (but we are happy to assist here). The administrator page of the Weagree Wizard contains the entries for configuring all of the available API-integrations.
That’s usually all. And with nowadays applications, this is relatively self-explanatory in the Weagree configuration dashboard for the API-plugins, we have made best efforts to use the external application’s field names to avoid mistakes and make you feel more comfortable.
Depending on the type of integration, you then need to ‘map’ contract data fields. This requires that you have implemented the related Weagree template (contract automation) or CLM contract sheet.
Yes, this may well be a powerful way to integrate end-to-end contracting into other business processes. There are a few restrictions, however, and for security reasons, we must whitelist this. Note that we do this only with certain qualified customers.
It is very easy to align the look & feel of the Weagree Wizard to your own corporate house style. If you know the colours (RGB or hex-numbers) of your corporate house style, it takes a few minutes only, plus a bit of trial and error to check whether you like it.
On the Administrator page, there is a dedicated item (under item Configure the Weagree Wizard). The best way to do this is to ask your communications department for their style guide. The ‘challenge’ is in the grey tones of the various application page components.
Depending on your organisations characteristic contracts and contracting processes, automating the contract lifecycles of your business may ultimately result in having automated each step of your contract cycle: