If you’re reading this article the chances are that you’re currently appraising different contract management solutions and looking to find one that’s suitable for your business.
If this is the case, you can ask yourself a simple question:
“Why am I considering investing in a contract management solution?”
Your answers might include:
- To create a reliable central repository for all my business’s contracts
- To save time that’s currently spent on administrative contract tasks
- To automate manual processes so that they can run more efficiently
- To save money by consolidating costs across different contracts
- To measure and minimise contract risk across the business
These are some of the common reasons that we hear from prospective customers.
As part of this appraisal process, you might also have to put a business case together which lays out the expected results. This is exactly the right approach.
So far, so good.
However, the key point to consider with regards to the answers above and business case is that in order to realise those benefits, people both inside and outside your business are going to have to adopt and use your chosen solution.
Contract management, by its very nature, is a collaborative process requiring multiple parties to engage at different stages.
You might have one primary user who is the central point of contact, but sign-offs, renewals, negotiations and audits all require additional input from across your business.
Even if you’ve meticulously gathered requirements from stakeholders and gained their buy-in, once you go live with a new system you’ll still be asking them to use something new and unfamiliar.
For your engaged audience, this will be viewed as an opportunity to optimise their work. However, it’s also highly likely that some colleagues will be resistant to new ways of working and will need to be convinced of the merits over time.
Until the new system proves itself to be undeniably better than the old way of doing things, there will always be a strong temptation to revert back to what was done before.
If this happens, it’s a disaster for your expected benefits and your business case.
The role of Usability
At Gatekeeper, we firmly believe in the power of collaboration when it comes to making contract management work in a business.
We facilitate collaboration in two main ways:
- We offer unlimited users on all plans, meaning you can invite as many colleagues and partners as required to Gatekeeper.
- We prioritise usability to ensure that all users can complete their designated tasks and actions from the first time they log in.
We find that lots of competing solutions, particularly at the Enterprise level, visually resemble a web-page where the stylesheet hasn’t loaded properly. They are equipped with powerful tools but they don’t exactly scream “use me” to the uninitiated.
And this becomes a genuine problem as you attempt to get colleagues with different levels of engagement and technical ability to use a new software.
If users have any inherent resistance to implementing a new system, then even the smallest usability issues will be enough to put them off using it.
This is why ease-of-use is such a potent tool to make sure people adopt a new system and, ultimately, to deliver on a business case.
Usable doesn't mean basic
Making something easy to use shouldn’t mean compromising on functionality.
Similarly, just because something looks complex, doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to be effective.
At Gatekeeper, we look to hide the complexity from those that don’t need to see it, whilst making the system highly configurable for those who need it to be.
For example, as an Administrator you can replicate and automate complex internal processes using our workflow engine, set multi-level access permissions and customise data fields and reporting as required.
All this is straightforward to do and and creates a seamless and appropriate experience for end users.
When too much training is a bad thing
Training is a crucial part of implementing a new contract management solution. You need to understand how to tailor it to your business, how to import your historical data and how to scale it in the future.
So the more training the better, right?
First of all, training requires a commitment of time and effort from your team to make it worthwhile. The more time required from your team for this, the more time they are away from their day jobs, so the value of each session has to be guaranteed.
Secondly, training is likely to be a chargeable element of your contract so additional training means increased costs.
Finally, and probably most importantly, a system that requires huge amounts of training is not one that’s placed a priority on usability.
Yes, some training will likely be required for administrators, who will be setting up the system on behalf of the business. But if training sessions are required for all your end users, no matter how simple their specific use-case, this should be a red-flag.
At Gatekeeper we include provision for training during onboarding but don’t mandate training across your whole team. Our system is intuitive enough to allow users to complete their tasks, or retrieve the information they require without needing to be shown how to do it first.
We hear repeatedly from customers how the obvious usability of Gatekeeper was one of the deciding factors for them choosing us for their business. This is especially the case when a business has implemented one system and then decided to move to another because of issues with user adoption.
We’ve written a few times about the importance of aligning your process and people before you look to invest in a technology solution. This will ensure that you’ve got the required buy-in and momentum for a successful implementation.
However, you can hit a significant roadblock if your chosen system has neglected to focus on usability.
As we’ve shown here, it’s not only important what a system does, but also how it does it.
If it’s to permeate every aspect of your business, as contract management should, and deliver on the business case, it needs to be straightforward and logical to use.
You should also ask to speak to a number of reference customers to find out their experience using the solution and how well adopted it has been by their users.
Finally, be wary of a company that won't allow you to trial their solution. A guided demonstration in the hands of a sales expert is no indication of how intuitive the solution will be across your business.
If you’d like a trial of Gatekeeper, followed by a tailored demonstration of how it works, then contact us today.