Part 3: Placing the Entire Burden of Implementation on the Vendor
Conditioned perhaps by past experience with accounting systems or otheroff-the-shelf business systems, some organizations relinquish their responsibility for the implementation’s success, expecting the contract management software vendor to provide a highly standardized, turnkey implementation. A contract management implementation, however, is anything but standard. Because contracts are specifically designed – often at great expense – to cope with each industry’s and business’ distinctive characteristics, it follows that each contract management implementation should be similarly unique. While there are some “best practices” associated with a basic contract management process, complex organizations vary widely in how they administer and monitor their contracts.
Moreover, processes can vary even within an organization, from department to department. Any contract management implementation must begin with the fundamental assumption that the commitment of the company’s management and staff are critical to the success of the project. A contract management system implemented solely by the vendor without active participation from their client will inevitably lack lower level organizational commitment, as well as key components, and that lack will greatly compromise its ability to meet the client’s business goals. The implementation process needs to be a partnership, where the business expresses its needs effectively and the vendor translates those needs into an automated solution. There should be no need to compromise your processes or data requirements to fit a given contract management solution. You need to find a solution flexible enough to adapt to your process. If you select a system that has its own process and has limited capability to change, you’ll run into problems later. Asking about the length of their typical implementation is a great qualifying question to ask. Exceptionally short implementation estimates will usually tell you the company’s more interested in their software than your process. It is also a great idea to ask for resumes and qualifications for the whole implementation team. You’ll be working with these individuals for a long time, so you want to make sure they can get it right the first time and translate your needs effectively into the solution.