Here is the good news: you’ve identified the need for improved contract management in your business and you are ready to implement a software solution.
But the thought of figuring out which solution will fit your organization’s needs can be overwhelming. Fear not – by following these eight steps, you will be well on your way to choosing the right contract management solution.
- Define the search project and assign responsibility.
Outline the problems to be solved by the contract management solution. Then create accountability by designating who will lead the search and have decision-making authority. Whether you choose yourself, just one person, or a team will depend on the magnitude of the problem.
- Be clear in setting guidelines and the timetable.
Establish specific guidelines to support the main objective: finding product that best fits your contract management needs. Determine a budget and set a firm deadline.
- Gather preliminary product information.
Build a general awareness of features and capabilities of the various products that are under review. Pay close attention to price. Don’t forget to include what a vendor may charge for installation, implementation, customization, and/or maintenance. If a solution exceeds the budget, move on.
- Create your wish list.
Decide on the capabilities you want in your system. Then classify these features as essential, important, or optional. Try to keep your list in each category relatively short as this will keep you focused on core needs and prevent you from getting mired in the nitty-gritty.
- View several demonstrations.
Once you have narrowed down your choice to several contract management solutions, ask for a personal demonstration of each product. Not only will you be able to determine its strengths and weaknesses, you’ll also get a good idea of its user interface – an important factor to determine ease of use. If possible, ask an IT resource to join you in at least a portion of the demo. This will ensure that you’re not speeding down a road toward a solution that your company’s IT capabilities can’t support.
- Rate each product against your wish list.
Create a spreadsheet by inputting your wish list down the side and the potential products across the top. Use a simple numerical scale of 1-5 to rate each product against your wish list. Calculate a total ranking for each product by adding up each column. As you analyze the results, still use common sense as a check; a high-scoring solution may not be the right solution if it got high marks in areas that are not a high priority.
- Conduct a trial evaluation of the leading potential solutions.
If at all possible, actually use the product in your own environment. Getting a true feel for the contract management solution will help you make the choice between competing software products. And, don’t be afraid of taking advantage of any help the vendor offers during the process – it’s your chance to evaluate how well they will assist you during implementation.
Congratulations – you and your team have worked hard to find and evaluate the best contract management software solution for your business.
Move quickly to implement. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll see the benefits of contract management.