The sophistication and popularity of contract management services platforms continue to grow, but they are still plagued by end-user dissatisfaction and low adoption rates that undermine their value. A persistent phenomenon is at play here.

Systems of contract management services are sophisticated technologies that support highly dynamic processes. A wide variety of use cases can be accommodated, starting from the most basic repositories to the most complex end-to-end workflows that integrate automated contract generation, workflow automation, playbooks, enterprise integrations, and advanced analytics.

Contract management software implementation is a complex endeavor - even for relatively simple offerings. It's not an out-of-the-box solution, as it requires customization to various degrees. The reason for dissatisfaction is often attributed to implementation failures after purchase.

The origins of end-user dissatisfaction can begin to emerge as far back as the initial planning and discovery phases, although implementation management challenges can certainly have an impact on implementation results. 


In order to maximize CLM implementation, expand usage and user satisfaction, and enhance ROI, it is important to:

  •  Understand your requirements and constraints in-depth 
  •  Engage stakeholders and integrate attorneys into the CLM implementation
  •  Pay close attention to end-user experiences (both legal and business)
  • Make sure that rigorous change management protocols are followed beginning with requirements gathering and continuing through selection, testing, customizations, implementation, rollout, and beyond
  • Implement rollout techniques that establish quick wins and build an engagement plan 
  • Remember that implementing the wrong technology solution could be disastrous.

Identify and Test Requirements

A clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish is essential. Do you need simple contract management services or a robust solution that manages compliance and audit, as well as post-contract analytics? What are the ways you intend to succeed?

 Disconnections are not uncommon in networks. Despite acquiring robust CLM solutions, some organizations might only use them as simple repositories, due to an unpleasant user interface. Alternatively, they may purchase systems that don't provide the functionality for the intended use-possibly due to inadequate requirement gathering or poor change management protocols in the early planning stages. A too-frequent occurrence is that teams only loosely develop what is required before they go to the market to shortlist solutions based on the use cases examined.

 An insufficient mission statement, a lack of fully developed use cases, and no agreement on the requirements among all stakeholders are often the cause. The omission of these components can be a leading indicator of customer dissatisfaction and poor ROI long before the actual purchase is made or implementation issues are encountered.

Enhance Stakeholder Alignment to Enhance User Experience

A lawyer is typically involved in developing the substantive parts of the CLM but is not always recognized as a key stakeholder in the assessment of the interface. This is unfortunate since attorneys can provide invaluable insights that should be considered during the selection process. 

The decision is traditionally guided by the technology, IT, and procurement teams, for a selection process based on CLM attributes aligned with internal system architecture. In contrast, lawyers don't always know what the technology requirements are, so when they identify a solution as optimal, it may not be suitable from an IT standpoint or within the budget. 

Effective change management depends on buy-in from all stakeholders, including business, finance, and other users. Shortlisting occurs without attorneys' involvement, however. The negotiation between "wish list" and budget, competing priorities, requirements, and constraints is left without this key stakeholder input. 

Consequently, the primary group that will live and utilize the system isn't involved in assessing one of its most important aspects: usability. A glaring omission foretells trouble to come. Multifunctional teams should be among the key players in selecting and implementing contract management services systems, particularly those that include business users. Adoption rates will be affected by the ease of use for all types of users.

Designing User Experience Beyond UI/UX 

CLM's design elements and the tool's interface do not necessarily determine the user experience. User experience includes the process that begins well before any go-live date (including customization, testing, and staging) and continues afterward (e.g., help desk support). "UX" plays a crucial role in improving adoption, maximizing benefits, and accelerating ROI.

We have observed that 90 percent of contract management services systems have the capability to support 90 percent of potential use cases along with the features and customization capabilities required by these use cases. As a result, it is important to understand whether the licensee can perform such customizations or if only the provider can do it. There will be a lot of confusion after implementation due to the lack of clarity.

UI/UX customization and configurations carried out in a staging and testing environment prior to rollout can include available options and features exposed to the user workflow configurations, among many other aspects. There is a need to exhaustively test all of this. Prior to any go-live event, targeted user acceptance testing (UAT) should be conducted.

One user who gets on the system and sees the wrong option or wrong nomenclature and says, "I don't think this works," is all it takes to frustrate adoption. Providing ongoing support is a crucial aspect of UX. A helpful help desk, training sessions, and clear procedures for getting support are essentials. It is likely that changes will be made to the system post-launch as feedback from live users is incorporated, so strong support and changes in contract management services are essential. It is impossible to succeed if you have not planned for them.

The CLM Rollout: Quick Wins or Quick Losses

An emphasis should be put on the fact that contract management services represent a paradigm shift, especially for business users who expect to simply get something done quickly by calling a lawyer. All of this has now been moved into a process that nobody has ever used before.

Losing rapidly is easy with the contract management services when rolled out en masse. If anyone-especially key stakeholder-does don't like what they see, the chances of regaining their interest are slim. Any issues will be used as a reason not to adopt the system.

An organization that transitions through a carefully controlled and phased implementation has the greatest success in terms of adoption and ROI. Regardless of how well everything went up until the point of the rollout, an uncontrolled rollout can, and will, undermine everything else.

Is there something successful CLM implementations have in common?

  • Rather than launching the entire system, introducing initial features first
  • A carefully chosen initial group of enthusiastic users'
  • To apply learning to implementations moving forward, strong feedback loops are needed 
  • Production of success stories to showcase the benefits
  • Measurement of performance metrics against requirements and goals to assess ROI
  • Proactively evaluating use, issues, and improvements during the initial implementation phase and incorporating any changes requested


In the end, it does not matter whether your business requires a simple contract repository to improve archiving, searching, or retrieval capabilities or an enterprise-level system supporting complex enterprise-wide workflows.

It takes a combination of sound project management, documenting your requirements, and aligning stakeholders—not just buying in—from initial discovery and planning to post-implementation management to achieve success.

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