Updated: May 30
In a recent conversation with Lucy Bassli, I blurted out that CLMs can be sexy, like lingerie. She was amused at first, but saw my point. Most people don’t associate contract lifecycle management software (CLM) or contract tech with something pretty and sexy. That is because most CLMs are dull and complicated, designed for functionality and not for appeal. Their creators focused on adding as many features as they could without regard to design and experience. For most CLMs, their front end looks like the back end!
For most CLMs, their front end looks like the back end!
As a legal tech user and inventor, I firmly believe that design, experience, and functionality are all critical elements of a successful application. That is why we pay close attention to the look and feel of our CLM, Zoey, and not just its functionality. All CLMs should provide support, protection, and visual appeal, like lingerie. You see what I mean? Wait till you read how the tips for buying lingerie apply to buying your next CLM.
The best lingerie provides protection, support and comfort in a seductive style.
Let’s start with a brief intro to lingerie. In simple words, it is underwear designed for support and pleasure. Its purpose is to protect and appease. There are many types of lingerie serving various tastes and functions. Lingerie can be delicate or sturdy, basic or extravagant, comfortable or uncomfortable, for daily wear or for special occasions, and offer minimal or maximum coverage. Some go for the design and uniqueness of the lingerie as they don’t plan on wearing it all day. Others prioritize support and comfort, but appreciate a touch of satin, lace, and even gems to enhance the experience for themselves and the observer. The best lingerie provides protection, support, and comfort in a seductive style.
A CLM can be sexy if the creator wants it to be.
Like lingerie, CLMs provide protection, support, and comfort for contracts. They should hold your contracts, control access, maintain privacy and invite you to look at it all day long. Believe it or not, a CLM can be sexy if the creator wants it to be through thoughtful design and functionality. The best CLM provides an appealing combination of function, user experience and user interface. Cleverly placed UI, well flowing UX, functioning buttons, secure and user friendly access, and appealing colors will make a CLM both attractive and useful.
Lingerie and CLMs have evolved a lot over the last two decades. Remember the introduction of the push up bra, the coming and going of the corset, the underwire, no wire, boy shorts, and the vanishing of garter belts. CLMs have seen similar upgrades and discontinuations as well. They used to be local and behemoth. Now, CLMs have become SaaSsy, automated, and AI powered offering contract review, auto reminders, third party application integration, and enhanced security. Like lingerie, you cannot use the same CLM forever. It must be properly handled and maintained, and replaced with a new version or different CLM altogether if it does not keep up with the growth and changes of your company. If the CLM has holes, it's time to replace it. No one likes patchy CLM or lingerie. Let’s keep it classy.
Not all CLMs are created equal.
A CLM can be complicated, expensive and unusable or it can be the most pleasant and important SaaS you use throughout your day. You should put some time into evaluating the options and your needs before acquiring and investing in your next CLM. Not all CLMs are created equal. Research, test, and find your best fit.
How do you find the best CLM? Simple. Look up how to find the best lingerie. You will be amused at how seamlessly these tips apply to acquiring a CLM. Just don't do it on your work computer. Your human resources department may not find this article convincing enough to justify you searching for lingerie as 'work' on your work device. For your convenience, I have researched and compiled a list of best tips for buying your next CLM inspired from tips on buying the best lingerie. I promise that these tips will educate and inspire you in purchasing your next CLM, lingerie, or both.
Find Some Inspiration
Look at the CLMs your fellow counsels and contracts professionals are using. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their CLM. Ask your friends if they would recommend their CLM to others.
Consider Getting A Fitting Expert
Most in-house counsel and contracts professionals are not CLM experts. Frankly, most CLM sales teams are not CLM experts, especially CLM with AI. For many, it is the first time they are acquiring a CLM. If you don't know much about CLMs and you are already working 45+ hours a week, hire an expert. Reserve a bit of your budget to hire a CLM or Legal Ops expert to source and onboard your CLM. CLM and legal tech experts can assess your department’s needs, suggest the best CLMs for your budget, help you prepare for the transition, and finalize the onboarding. Here are some of my favorite experts.
Lucy Bassli - Founder and CEO of InnoLaw Group
Jeff Kruse - Founder and Director of Key Legal Operations Consulting
Emilie Calame - Founder and CEO of Calame
Patrick DiDomenico - Founder and CEO of InspireKM Consulting
Trayce Marcelle - Head of US - Legal Ops and Tech Consulting LOD + SYKE
Consider What You Already Have
Review the apps you are currently using for contract management. List their pros, cons and missing features. Also, check their integrations with other apps in use by your company. Check with CLM vendors if their CLM has the missing features and can integrate with your other business apps. No need to pay for redundant features and unnecessary disruption.
Measure your legacy contracts, and estimate your current and future contract volume. Consolidate your contract templates. List the number of users or licenses you will need for the CLM. Bassli calls this CLM readiness. Check out her company InnoLaw Group for more information on this.
Decide Which Areas to Play Up?
A CLM can highlight your department’s strengths or its mess to the rest of the company. If your department provides contract review, termination reports and vendor cost analysis, find a CLM that can facilitate these tasks and presents the deliverables in a user friendly way. Make yourself look good to the rest of the company with your CLM.
Is it of Good Quality?
This goes beyond the quality of the technology. How is their customer success team from business development to onboarding and beyond? Expensive and glitchy CLMs with poor customer service are a nightmare, so just avoid them. Sometimes you get what you pay for and sometimes you don’t. Ask for references from the vendor, look at the reviews, and ask around on social media about the product before signing any contract, especially one with no refunds.
Does It Protect Your Sensitive Areas?
Make sure the CLM provider is reputable, and in compliance with industry standard security measures. Ask for their SOC2 type compliance or security assessment and have your IT director review and approve it. Ask where the data will be hosted and processed. Verify if the parent company is on the OFAC list.
Is It Comfortable?
Try out the CLM and see if you are comfortable with all the features and design. You have to stare at this CLM daily so make sure you enjoy using it. Your stakeholders and even the executive team may access the CLM and their comfortability is also very important. Ask others to volunteer to test the CLM with you before making a decision.
Is it too Customizable?
Don't get a CLM with limitless customizations and features that no one can use. In 2023, CLMs should come with certain core functionalities to reduce customizations and be ready to use in 30 to 60 days.
Is It Within Your Budget?
There are too many CLMs in the market now and they are not cheap. Finalize your budget and be transparent with the vendors so neither side wastes their time. Stick to you budget. Make sure the ROI on the CLM is higher than the fees before you sign a contract, especially for a multi-year commitment.
Don’t Forget the Accessories
This means add ons. Explore these features and commit only if you need them and have a budget for. Ask for beta versions if possible to be early testers at no cost. Ask the vendors if they can bundle features for you and reduce the cost.
Check the Return and Refund Policy
Now this is a big one. Most CLM subscriptions are for one year and cannot be terminated for convenience. Make sure the termination for cause language is clear and allows refunds if the product does not function as promised.
Do You Feel Confident In It?
A great CLM should improve your work quality, save you time, and make you confident in your work. Your CLM should make you proud of your decision and earn you thank you notes from the rest of the company for choosing the best legal app ever.
Now that you have the best tips for procuring your next CLM and lingerie, I hope that you find the best fit for you and your company. Let us know how these tips helped you. Happy shopping.