When researching contract lifecycle management software, it’s easy to see the numerous benefits of having a CLM. But what is the customer experience like while implementing such a program? The best way to get a clear idea of the CLM journey is to hear what an Agiloft customer has to say.

Recently, Jim Leason, Managing Director of EMEA at Agiloft in Europe, had an opportunity to sit down with Geronimo Fritsch, Group Head of Legal Compliance at Balluff in Germany, to discuss the CLM journey. Balluff is nearing the end of a legacy migration and implementation of a new Agiloft CLM solution. Listen to Fritsch’s experience to get a deeper understanding of all that the implementation process entails – and take notes for when it’s your turn.

About The Customer

Balluff is a mid-sized, family-run business that started in Germany and is now a leading global player in sensors and automation. Backed by four generations of success, Balluff’s current focus is automation. “We are focusing on products that lead to digital transformation within companies for our customers,” Fritsch says.

Let’s look at what Fritsch had to say about Balluff’s experience selecting, implementing, and utilizing their new Agiloft CLM solution. You can also watch the full webinar replay here.

Q: What challenges did you face at Balluff that drove you to seek a contract lifecycle management solution? 

A: The challenges are the same among many companies, big and small. We had a lack of global transparency and contract knowledge. It was very time-consuming to find the contract that was applicable, and there was nowhere that we could type in a word, search, and look for what we needed. We would have to read the entire contract to find what we were looking for.

One extremely frustrating aspect was that the status of the contract was never clear. Creating a standard contract—a standard request—required high manual output. There were many missed deadlines and opportunities. We wouldn’t always know the right time to terminate or renew. Legal became a major bottleneck.

Finally, we had no control over the way that the documents looked. The company could be using one version and an employee might have had another, unapproved version saved on their computer. Never knowing that they were actually using the outdated version, the employee could have very easily put a contract together for a customer with an old template. Now we have more focus and control. We’re able to be quality gatekeepers.

Q: What requirements did you identify that Balluff needed for its target solution? 

A: Most importantly, it had to be an intuitive solution that my employees would use. The software that we chose had to have an API to our ERP system. There’s a lot of different data that needed to be used during contract creation and that data needed to be available. We needed to archive emails within the system and more importantly, how do you integrate teams? We needed a search function. Something that included full text, thesaurus, and fuzzy search.

Additionally, we needed supportive reporting. We needed personalized dashboards because people of different positions needed to see different things. Contract authoring with permanent versioning so there is no way to change the Word document without having the history behind it. We need to know who made the changes and at what time.

Also, an electronic workflow that approves and brings the user to the signature portion of the contract. One of the major things was a reasonable licensing concept with easy access management. And finally, being German, we had to have a server location in Germany.

Q: How did you prepare to implement Agiloft? 

A: The first thing was the analysis and description of processes and island solutions. And then we had to analyze and overview existing contract types. You have to think: What kind of contract type do I need for my company? Then, Agiloft will create it for you. That’s the kind of customization that we can amend or adapt for the future.

We identified existing workflows and integrated or changed them to practicability. Some of our systems were outdated so we recognized we had to get rid of certain workflows and get better ones. We were not only improving the solution, but we were improving the process. We had to define efficient electronic release workflows per contract type and different perspectives of risk sharing and approvals. Of course, we had to set up electronic signature regulations per department. We needed early involvement of the departments and regions in order to define our rollout strategy.

And finally, there was the legacy migration. This included all the existing agreements. We had to bring all existing contracts into the solution. It is a lot of work, but it improves your risk analysis.

Q: What was Balluff’s approach/timeline to the implementation? 

A: The first thing Balluf did was analyze and evaluate the current CLM. Then, we decided to do a pilot in Germany based on who has the biggest pain points and it’s always from, in my perspective, Sales and Purchasing. They have a lot of contracts that go along with a lot of risks, and sometimes contracts do not get forwarded to Legal.

We started the Implementation stage on January 1, 2021, and it’s really working well now –especially since we ran user acceptance tests with Sales and Purchasing where certain users were able to work with the solution first. We wanted to know whether the program was intuitive, or do people need a lot of instructions. We had a small rollout and then paid attention to anything that needed improving. We plan for the CLM to be implemented in all the departments and subsidiaries in 2023.

Q: What has been the impact on your organization since you implemented Agiloft? 

A: We can really see the advantage of the enterprise solution. As we roll out the pilot, we see how employees are getting curious about all the information to which they have access. We, as the Legal team, also have the awareness when there is something coming in. Maybe we have to set up new contract types, and we start thinking about templates that are necessary for several locations.

Also, global contract awareness is surprising. You get to see contract documents that have been signed in the past and decide whether you should work with them or get rid of them and agree on documents that are more state of the art, less risk related. While we can see that there are very specific contract owners, Legal is the quality gatekeeper. We can use standard templates and Legal can update those templates as needed. We have clear contract responsibilities because we have defined contract owners. They are responsible and contract managers will support them.

A cool thing that I underestimated, in the beginning, is task management. With this feature, we can involve people from other departments and get their opinion on what we’re putting together.

Q: What did you learn from the pilot that you will adjust as you roll out globally?

A: Be fully aware of contract types and ownership before the Implementation starts. You should know your processes and establish new ones if possible. The legacy migration—the migrating of existing contracts—is something that is a lot of work. The support Agiloft offers is good, but it still takes a lot of time.

Regular training and Q&A sessions are very helpful for the users. You can record your training and then everyone has access to the recordings. They can always go back to them.  Trial and error, you have to start somewhere and adapt over time. The software will help you find the gaps and get better and more efficient.

Q: What do you think is the most important to prioritize?  

A: The top three things is one: to be clear of processes and be clear of roles. Second, you need good project management. We have a good team that has supported us through everything. Third, be aware that this software solution will change your mind and the way you do business on a daily basis

Learn more about automating your business practices with the power of CLM. Book a demo today.