Implementing software piecemeal, rather than as part of a unified strategy, is a perennial problem for businesses of all sizes – and it's an understandable one. Companies scale, they change and, in order to stay on top of the ever-increasing complexity of doing business, people make decisions that will make their jobs easier without necessarily taking into account other departments.
It's not hard to imagine a scenario where one department that does work involving a lot of external vendor relationships implements a comprehensive contract management solution to handle all the paperwork – without getting anyone else in the business involved.
There are some big downsides to operating this way. So let's explore the dangers of having a repository of contracts that exists in its own siloed world, and why every business should have its contract management solution integrated with its CRM.
Take, for example, a situation in which your contracting and legal teams have begun handling all of their many complicated business needs through a contract management tool. You've no doubt seen it pay dividends. It's made the efficiency of your business skyrocket. There have been no more surprise last-minute compliance headaches and no more unprofitable business relationships of unknown origin. And those teams themselves have gotten more efficient, too, because Instead of spending their time tracking down paperwork, they're spending time doing what they do best – making sure the fundamental contractual foundations of your business are organized, up to par and working in your best interest.
But on the other hand, you have your sales team. They're doing great work talking to prospects, but when it comes to handling contracts, they're running into bottlenecks. They’re finding the workarounds and legwork they have to undertake just to sign off on their deals to be an endless source of frustration, and it’s becoming their least favorite part of the job.
It's easy to see from this example why keeping contract management separate from CRM is bad news. You are setting up the legal department to successfully build out the contractual underpinnings of your business, which is very good -- but you’re leaving your sales team behind, consigning them to some measure of frustration when you’ve got a tool to make their lives easier already available in-house.
Enabling sales, marketing and other teams that work primarily through the CRM to avail themselves of next-gen tools for contract management allows them to handle that part of their job as effectively and productively as legal. And when every department is set up to succeed, so is your business.
It could be sales staff that's closing the deals. It could account managers or people higher up the food chain who want to double or triple-check the terms of a given contract. Anyone throughout a business could have a question, concern or valuable bit of information pertaining to a contract.
That's because contracts are relevant throughout an enterprise – they're not the sole property of a given internal player who signs off on them (a fact that becomes most apparent during times of turnover). When someone from sales or marketing is working on a deal and doesn't have a way to search for what other contracts already exist, this can lead to duplicating work or running around in circles trying to answer questions that have already been answered. Likewise, if upper-management or other departments don't have an easy way to get a full view of the contracts being handled by the sales teams, there's room for confusion and oversights on that end as well.
Giving everyone throughout the business convenient access to the contract management solution through the CRM allows everyone to see the contracts they need to see – and they'll know right where to look to find them.
Contract management solutions allow businesses to use standard tools on documents that aren't standardized. Different vendors and clients use disparate file formats, different methods e-signing and, of course, there are those contracts that are signed by hand and scanned-in. Each type of contract has its own peculiarities, but the right tools let you standardize the way you deal with them.
Being able to manage contracts in a single repository with tools built to address and streamline the confusion contracts can bring reduces all sorts of inefficiencies and potential mistakes. This is true for any department in the business – whether it's an area that's heavily operational or one that's client facing.
By integrating contract management with a CRM tool, you're both letting the employees who work in the CRM manage the contract-oriented elements of their jobs better and creating cross-business visibility into each and every contract that can boost the value of a deal itself.
Leaving your CRM and contract management solutions separate is leaving value on the table – preventing your entire team from being as productive as they could otherwise be.