Raise your hand if your favorite part of getting a new gadget, game or tool is reading the directions and filling out the warranty card. Anybody?

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume most readers didn’t go for that (I’ve got my eye on you, engineers–you know you wanted to raise your hand!). The instinct to want to “just use it” may work with some personal purchases, but as soon as there is a blip and you can’t turn it off/the screen is stuck/you lose your data, etc., you have to go back to the directions and do the thing you should have done first. Our instinct for immediate gratification is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

This scenario doesn’t just play out in our personal lives, but also in the corporate world. 2018 has been a year of what I call “Tech & Drop” with regards to contract lifecycle management software sales. What’s the Tech and Drop? Simply put, it’s when a software vendor sells some tech, drops it off, and then disappears. Sounds strange right? It happens more often than you may think.

This is how things typically play out:

  • Company X reads some great blogs, or attends a conference with clever panels, and is swayed by the Cicero-like words of a charming American expat in the UK (hypothetically) who tells them that tech is must in CLM and that in order to succeed, their company needs a strategy.
  • Company X, perhaps star-struck, misses out on the part where said (hypothetical) writer/speaker also tells them that process, people and change management are crucial too.
  • Company X goes out and talks to some clever CLM vendors who give awesome demos, provide cool use cases and proclaim that they will lift Company X into the 21st Century.
  • Company X spends (a lot!) of money for said CLM Vendor to do a good technical job of implementing a tool followed by a week (perhaps two) of (often virtual) training to a small group at Company X, and leave behind extensive pdf training documentation in order for Company X to train the other 98% of CLM tool users.
  • Company X is excited to spend a month or two in the 21st century, but soon come to realize that they are suffering from some combination of:
    • No one using the tool
    • The tool missing crucial data
    • The tool hasn’t been integrated with other tools
    • Beyond the initial purchasing group, other Company functions don’t understand the tool, why it exists, or how it can help.
  • Company X calls the CLM vendor and asks, “what happened?” and the vendor advises that the “standard training” has been provided, and everything should be fine.
  • Company X bosses are upset that there is no ROI on their purchase and conclude that either CLM isn’t important or CLM tech isn’t useful (or a combination of both!).

If this sounds familiar, congratulations! You are the victim of Tech & Drop!

Disclaimer time–many CLM tech vendors are great, provide great tech, and want the customer to be happily using their tool to its fullest potential. This is not purely altruistic, because of course a CLM tech vendor needs published use cases, happy clients and good work of mouth. Trust me, there is nothing a CLM Vendor wants more than to get you up on stage at IACCM or the FT Awards ceremony talking about the great transformation that occurred and how much ROI you have achieved using their tools.

So, how do you avoid this dreaded Tech & Drop? There are a few ways:

  • Talk to your CLM vendor and express your concerns upfront. Key buzz-words should be adoption, sustainability and change management.
  • Ask about the roadmap for implementation as visualized by the vendor. More and more CLM vendors are using service providers (just like large ERPs use) to help with implementation, process management, change management and program design. They may be able to recommend someone (or email me!).
  • Go into this with open eyes. If your organization is using Bob as your CLM platform today, then there is a long change management road ahead to transition from a ‘Bob System’ to a full on tooling model.

Armed with this knowledge, services, tech and buyers can little bit more aware of the risks, so perhaps 2019 won’t see so much of the Tech & Drop.