For quite a while now, I’ve been involved in a contract management system integration project and wanted to talk generally about a few things to consider when choosing a contract management system.
1) I’ve said this in other posts, but don’t choose the brightest, shiniest object you found online or at a conference! If you type “software contract management” into Google, you will not receive a list of articles about best practices in the field of software contract management. What you will find are vendors who have done some very creative SEO (search engine optimization) work to get their keywords and their products at the top of the search list. Do your homework and your due diligence!
2) Users are stakeholders too. The stakeholder group is larger than the management team, it includes the users as well. These are the folks who will be using the software day in and day out, so it only makes sense to give them input into the selection process. As a bonus, you’ll achieve immediate buy-in if you involve them in the beginning. But, leave them in the dark for two years while you purchase, develop and then release the software, making it mandatory for them to use a system that they didn’t have any input into? Well, good luck with that one!
3) Think about the big picture for your department. Is this going to be integrated with an ERP system next year and then integrated with another product two years down the road? How will other departments interact with your system? What systems do they currently use? Ask your IT department for assistance if they’re not already involved and allow them to diagram the architecture and understand the enterprise impacts of the system you’re considering for purchase in the beginning. Note the emphasis on beginning…
4) Don’t rush. I know we’re almost in Q4 and everyone’s trying to burn down 2013 funds, but don’t spend money on a contract management system in a rush. If you have to spend the money now, how about spending it on a consultant that can come in and assess your needs for a contract management system? Do you already have a homegrown system that can be expanded on? Do you have money in 2014 that you can earmark now for this expenditure? If you’re truly in a rush and have to burn through that money before the end of the year, take a hard look at your options and make a solid plan that’s in the best interest of your team, your department and your organization.