Contract Lifecycle Management — Do You Have Your Platform and Process in Place?

By now you should, especially since 8 parts of the doctor‘s and the maverick‘s series on Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) have been up for your reading pleasure over on Spend Matters Plus (registration required) since October, but if you don’t yet have it in place, now’s a good time to review the current series end-to-end and get a grip on what your platform should contain.

While contract management is not new, and many first generation platforms have been including contract management modules since the late noughts, many features of next generation contract management platforms are reasonably new, and some are much more valuable than others. That’s why the focus of this series was on must-haves, should-haves, and nice-to-haves for contract management platforms since it’s almost impossible to implement a good process without a good platform, and selecting one is becoming harder and harder as more and more e-Sourcing and C(L)M providers, including those who started in the Sales / Legal space, hit the market, and not all are created equal (or anything close to equal).

For example, while a clause library is only a should-have capability and multi-tier contract management and drafting a nice to have capability, especially for a Procurement Organization that does fairly standard direct materials and indirect services contracts, some CLM providers will push them as essential (which they may be for Legal organizations that handle commercial [building] development contracts with a lot of work being outsourced to specialist providers) for every organization, this is not the case and for some organizations these features will not be used at all. Similarly, some CLM providers without native MDM integration (which is a should-have) and, gasp, expiry and renewal management (a must-have) will try to down-sell their importance, which is critical in an organization with a lot of auto-renew evergreen contracts (which can cost the result in the organization overspending by 10% or more on multi-million category) and price data in third party systems.

Plus, with so many e-Sourcing technologies, and a plethora of acronyms which mean similar, but not the same, things (for instance, do you know the difference between S2S, S2P, and P2P — don’t fib!), it’s hard to tell where CLM even fits, why you need it, and the extent of capabilities your organization is missing out on with an outdated system. (This is critical as good CLM can result in significant year-over-year cost savings. While the percentages aren’t as high as supplier relationship management, spend analysis, or strategic sourcing decision optimization (which can tops out at an average year-over-year cost savings of 12% in the last case), annual savings from an effective end-to-end CLM process, backed up by the right platform, have been known to generate 4% to 6% savings that go straight to the bottom line (and get Procurement credibility with Legal and Sales, who can all be on the same system), and that’s nothing to scoff at!

CLM is critical as good contract management, coupled with good supplier management, is what ensures that the sourcing plan is realized, and this is key to capturing the savings that Supply Management works so hard to negotiate. It’s pointless to negotiate a 10% savings if only 6% of it gets captured due to bad contract management practices (which result in poor supplier management, maverick spend, inferior order management, expedited shipment, lost credits, etc.). And this is the case in many organizations without good contract management practices. (And has been for many years, as chronicled in AMR’s (now Gartner’s) classic series on Reaching Sourcing Excellence.)

In other words, if you haven’t, you really should read the Series to Date (membership required):