A guide to contract lifecycle management (CLM) software

June 21, 2022
Discover everything you need to know about contract lifecycle management software in this comprehensive guide.

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software is an established choice for businesses looking to gain control of their contracts and to speed up the contracting process. It enables legal and business teams to manage contracts efficiently at every stage and reduce the manual work involved in doing so.

This post covers everything you need to know about contract lifecycle management software, from what it is to how it works and what to consider as a first-time CLM software buyer. 

What is contract lifecycle management software?

Contract lifecycle management software describes technology that enables organizations to streamline and automate their entire contract workflow, from contract creation to contract tracking and reporting. 

CLM software offers features that are useful during every stage of the contract lifecycle. This distinguishes it from other solutions such as contract negotiation software, or contract reminder software, that focus on one particular phase of the contract lifecycle. 

What is a contract lifecycle?

A contract lifecycle is a process through which a contract is created and managed. It describes the various stages a contract must go through, from drafting all the way through to contract tracking

Although certain agreements will spend longer in certain stages of the contract lifecycle than others, most contracts follow the same vague process. They will be created, collaborated on, approved, negotiated, signed, stored, tracked, and renewed.

However, since contracts are complex legal documents, it's common for them to move back and forth across the contract lifecycle.

What problem does CLM software solve? 

For many businesses, the contract lifecycle is a fragmented, slow, and inefficient process.

Contracts are drafted in Microsoft Word, shared via email, signed in eSignature tools, stored in shared drives, and tracked in Excel spreadsheets. This means that organizations rely on up to five different tools to manage their contracts, and moving back and forth between these different platforms results in friction and data loss.

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) software enables teams to reduce this friction and protect their contract data by bringing all of these steps into one unified workspace. 

By offering all of the functionality teams need to manage contracts in one platform, CLM software removes the need to jump between tools and eliminates routine contract admin tasks as a result. 

If this sounds like something that would benefit your business, hit the button below to find out more. 

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Who uses CLM software?

CLM software is often used by in-house lawyers. However, CLM software can be used by other departments in the business too, including sales, HR, procurement, finance, and operations teams. 

How this works depends on the complexity of the tool and whether the organization wants them to self-serve on contracts or not. It also depends on the safeguards in place and the organization’s risk appetite

Benefits of contract lifecycle management software

1. Faster and more efficient contract lifecycles 

Contract lifecycle management software enables teams to streamline the entire contract lifecycle by providing all of the features they need to manage contracts from end to end in one place. CLM software also delivers the features needed to safely automate routine contract admin and free up legal’s time for higher-value work.

For example, Juro users can: 

2. More collaborative workflows

Certain CLM solutions enable teams to quickly review and negotiate contracts in one unified workspace. They can converse in real time in the document sidebar, add redlines and review earlier versions with one click using Juro’s timeline. This collaborative experience means that there's less back and forth when it comes to reviewing contracts internally.

For example, Juro users can: 

  • Add comments and contract redlines to contracts in real time without having to move between tools - it all happens in one unified workspace 
  • Toggle between internal and external versions of a contract to choose which comments counterparties can see 
  • Set up approval workflows to provide security and ensure that contracts are signed off quickly, efficiently, and by the right person 
  • Move contracts in and out of Microsoft Word easily if their counterparties wish

3. Greater visibility into contracts

CLM systems that work with dynamic files can also improve contract visibility, giving them instant access to the data within their contracts. This provides businesses with discoverable, actionable insights into their agreements and the overall efficacy of their contract management process.

For example, Juro users can: 

  • Run real-time, dynamic reports into contracts, ensuring you have access to the most recent data with no manual work required
  • View all of the different versions of a contract, and the specific changes made, with ease by using Juro’s detailed contract audit trail 

Which contract lifecycle management software is best?

Unfortunately, there’s no single best option when it comes to contract lifecycle management software. What works well for some businesses won’t be as effective for others. 

To help you make the decision and compare vendors, the next section of this post runs through what you should consider and which types of CLM software are best suited to you - legacy CLMs or more modern solutions like Juro.

What to consider when choosing CLM software

When it comes to choosing the right CLM software for your business, there are a few things you need to consider: 

  • Workflow coverage. Which stages of the contract lifecycle are most painful for you currently? How does each CLM platform deliver value at this particular stage? Are any core features missing?
  • How complex your contracts are. Are you tackling standard agreements that require consistency, or do you manage contracts that are heavily negotiated? How well does each contract lifecycle management system accommodate these types of contracts? 
  • Budget. What budget have you been allocated for a CLM tool? Will there be any additional fees for onboarding? Does user-based pricing work out too expensive for your team? Will you require any additional, separate tools still?
  • Required integrations. Which other business platforms would you like to integrate with your CLM software? Are these integrations available in all other tools? If they are, are they effective and affordable?
  • Implementation periods. How quickly do you need to receive value from this tool? Do you have the time and resources required to invest in a heavy implementation? Are you looking for a lighter, out-of-the-box solution? 

The biggest decision you need to make is whether to choose a legacy CLM solution or a more modern contract management tool like Juro. Let’s compare each of these two types of CLM platforms in turn now, starting with legacy CLMs. 

Is legacy CLM software right for you? 

Contract lifecycle management software has the potential to transform the way you manage contracts in your business. It can reduce contract admin, improve visibility, and enable you to capture revenue faster. 

But there’s an important distinction to make between legacy CLM solutions and more modern contract management platforms like Juro. 

While legacy CLM platforms are an inherent improvement on the manual workflow we described earlier, they still have many pitfalls. In fact, there are three main problems that persist when you rely on a legacy CLM tool like DocuSign CLM or Ironclad:

  • Not collaborative enough. Many contract lifecycle management tools still don’t offer the functionality required to collaborate effectively on contracts. This makes it difficult for commercial teams, legal teams and counterparties to collaborate on contracts. This results in longer sales cycles and longer routes to revenue.
  • Inflexible. It’s common for legacy CLM software to have a dated user interface and to require a lot of maintenance. This lack of flexibility can make it difficult for end users to adopt the tool, meaning businesses waste thousands on neglected tools. This is distinct from Juro where you can set up workflows yourself in seconds and connect tools with no code required.
  • Siloed. Since legacy CLMs often store contracts as static files, contract visibility relies on manual tagging after the fact. This makes it difficult to query contract metadata unless you commit a lot of time to manually tracking this data. 

Legacy CLM platforms are also designed with enterprise organizations in mind and are priced accordingly. In fact, some legacy CLM tools charge an additional onboarding fee equivalent to Juro’s annual membership fee. 

Legacy contract lifecycle management platforms also tend to require significant upfront investments when it comes to onboarding, with most estimating implementation within six months. This is a far cry from the speedy 30-day implementation period offered by a more modern contract lifecycle management tool like Juro. 

How does Juro compare? 

Unlike legacy CLM platforms, Juro is flexible, collaborative and data-rich. 

Enterprise CLM systems like Ironclad still depend on separate eSignature solutions and Microsoft Word for simple tasks like correcting typos and making basic amendments. Juro’s features are more comprehensive, enabling teams to truly manage the entire contract lifecycle in one workspace. This makes real-time collaboration easier, too. 

Contracts are also built as structured data in Juro by default. This makes contracts fully searchable from day one, providing greater visibility into contracts and giving your teams access to granular contract data. This is distinct from some legacy CLMs where this data needs to be tagged manually. 

It’s also common for legacy CLMs to have a dated and clunky user interface, making it difficult for other teams in the business to self-serve on contracts. Juro’s platform is modern, user-friendly and easy to navigate, which allows business teams to adopt and use the platform to automate contract admin tasks. 

To find out more about Juro’s collaborative contract management platform and the features available, fill in the form below to book a personalized demo. 

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