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*Updated 15/12/21*

Investing in a contract management solution is a vital step towards helping your business thrive.

Having clear oversight of your contracted spend, key dates and deadlines and monitoring ongoing vendor compliance status gives you the confidence to scale.

During the buying process, you should expect to see a tailored demonstration of the solutions, with your key issues being addressed effectively.

Many of our customers are moving from having no formal solution in place to having one for the first time. Under these circumstances there can be plenty of new terminology to understand as well as new features and processes to digest.

Due to this unfamiliarity, there’s scope to miss potentially crucial information during the sales process.

To help avoid this, we’ve pulled together a list of nine questions to ask, which will not only help protect your business but will give you a good insight into the capabilities of your prospective solution.

1. Where do you host my data?

In these days of GDPR, data sovereignty is a vital issue to consider, particularly in relation to International Transfer frameworks such as EU-US Privacy Shield.

If you opt for a SaaS solution, it pays to ask them where your data will be hosted. Since they’re acting as a data processor on your behalf, you will need to be clear on where that data is at all times so you can ensure you’re compliant.

2. Is my data secure?

Losing business data is one of the easiest ways to do significant damage to your brand as well as your bottom line.

Check with your prospective partner that their security measures are appropriately stringent and regularly assessed by independent auditors. Enlist the help of your InfoSec team if you have one, or take external advice to gain the reassurance that you need.

See if they have the relevant ISO accreditation or other recognised certification to prove that they take the issue seriously and are suitably committed to protecting your data.

3. How will I get my data into your system?

The key to getting the value from a contract management solution is being able to get your contract data into it in the first place.

For larger businesses looking to import potentially thousands of contracts, this can be a major obstacle to success if not managed smoothly.

Here, you need to be asking about import protocols, security, integrations and table limits. How does their system match up with your data as it stands currently?

It’s also worth checking what level of support is offered by prospective partners to help you move your data. Those committed to customer success will often provide resource to assist you.

A useful follow-up question here is to ask about taking your data out if required, either for further analysis or at the end of the relationship. You should be looking for an easy and equally secure process, which keeps you in control of your information.

4. Do you have a disaster recovery plan?

Should anything untoward happen to the data being stored on your behalf, what kind of contingency plan is in place, and is it documented and ready to share?

If the data is backed up, is it also stored in the same location to ensure data sovereignty requirements continue to be met?

The answers to these questions will give you a good additional insight into how seriously this organisation takes the security of your data and its own legal requirements.

5. What does the overall onboarding process look like?

More broadly than simply getting your data into the system, consider closely what else is being offered to help you get up and running.

Consider what your success criteria are for implementing this system in your business. Have these been correctly identified and recorded during the pitch process and tied into the onboarding?

Attentiveness to your desired outcomes should be prevalent and a clear path mapped out to achieving them.

6. Who’s going to train me?

Another element that’s vital to the success of the relationship is adoption and usage of the system within your organisation. The easier it is to use the better but more than likely there will be a need for some training to make sure you get off to the best possible start.

Find out the process for delivering any necessary training, who needs to be present and whether there’s any additional charge for it.

7. How do you measure customer satisfaction?

You want to be confident that your chosen solution walk the walk when it comes to customer satisfaction. Online reviews can only tell you so much so start by asking how they measure the satisfaction of their customers.

A lot of companies will use Net Promoter Score as a way of tracking their ongoing success. Ask if they use this system and, if so, what their current score is. You’re ideally looking to see something in the 40-50 range as a minimum, which is indicative of a high level of customer service.

Ask if you can see the anonymised verbatim feedback from the last three months of NPS feedback. The company’s willingness to show you this as well as the actual feedback itself will give you a good idea of whether you’re in safe hands or not.

8. Can I speak to some existing customers?

This is a fairly standard component of a pitch and companies should have a range of clients that they can put you in touch with.

Given that these are likely to be handpicked to be positive, you may want to request to speak to specific companies that you know are clients. For example, if they have a strip of company logos on their website, ask to speak to one or two of them as well as the ones offered.

You can also check out their company blog if they have one for previous customer announcements or press releases, to find additional customers to speak to.

9. How often do you release updates to your product?

With software developing at ever faster speeds, the solution that looks like the perfect fit right now could easily become outdated in the next 6-12 months if their pace of development isn’t up to scratch.

Ask for a record of their product updates from the last 6 months and for a look at their current roadmap to get an idea of how committed they are to innovation.

During the process of agreeing to a new contract management system, you'll more than likely focus on information about pricing, system requirements and timelines for delivery. 

In addition to this vital information, you'll need to be consider the items listed above. This will help give you the complete picture that you need to make the right decision. 

10. Does your contract management solution integrate with other platforms? 

Some businesses may be implementing a solution for the first time, while other businesses may already have teams working in different platforms. Whether different platforms are used handling contract data or collaboration, you need to make sure a contract management solution can integrate with your existing tech-stack. 

It's worth viewing these integrations during the demo process before agreeing to purchase a CLM solution and brining in key users to view them too. This is especially true for teams using NetSuite or Salesforce

Where integrations are available, you should ask about additional costs, if there is additional support and how data can be synced between the CLM solution and other platforms used in your business. 

For more information on contract management, please browse the rest of our blog. There you'll find further relevant articles and contract management resources including:

Ian Bryce
Ian Bryce

Ian writes on a variety of topics, bringing together his own knowledge and experience with that of industry experts.


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