Meet the 'Contract Hero' behind Ikena Oncology's Agiloft CLM Success

Read on as we reveal how the right CLM solution transformed Ikena’s internal and external relationships and more.

The right Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution is at the forefront of a organization’s evolution. 

It plays an important role in corporate culture, the quality of team communication, achieving end goals, and improving workflows. For Ikena Oncology and Angelina Bellanton, a commitment to eradicate cancer and restore health guides the path to improved efficiency and contract automation. 

Contract Heroes, a podcast dedicated to helping organizations with the selection of their contract management tools, recently interviewed Angelina Bellanton, a 17-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, two-time CLM solution implementation champion, and Ikena Oncology’s Senior Manager of Contracts and IP. 

Using Angelina’s big pharma perspective, Contract Heroes co-hosts Marc Doucette and Pepe Toriello uncovered industry-specific CLM needs and how a contract management solution like Agiloft can change the overall company culture.  

Read on as we reveal podcast highlights, how the right CLM solution transformed Ikena’s internal and external relationships, CLM selection and implementation advice, insightful tips, and more.  

Why are CLM solutions critical to pharmaceutical companies?

Pharmaceutical companies deal with complex, highly regulated programs, supply chains, multifaceted legalities, and day-to-day contract work. CLM success is largely dependent on having an internal “CLM hero” who guides the implementation.  

Every pharmaceutical company goes through a process of communicating the benefits of their innovative treatments to the people who need it. Known as the outreach process, it involves heavy interaction between Finance and Legal as they iron out the legal and financial details.  

The right CLM solution supports the outreach process through improved internal collaboration. Once streamlined, company-wide visibility encourages employees to work independently, answering their own questions based on readily available, accurate data. Colleagues no longer blame one another for long waiting periods or for providing wrong information. Everyone saves time and energy, including internal key stakeholders, contract requesters, the Legal and Finance teams, the C-suite, and more.

How does CLM improve internal company culture?

With two successful implementations under her belt, Angelina is Ikena’s very own “CLM hero.” She’s witnessed firsthand the difference between businesses with and without a CLM system.

“Most companies start with a SharePoint or repository and no finite tracking system,” she said. “As a result, contract management becomes a pain point. At the start, Ikena was handling contracts via email. Constant questions were sent back and forth between finance and other internal requesters: ‘Is this budgeted? Which program does it belong to? Do they have permission to proceed with this particular work or study?’ This initial process made it hard to obtain accurate information in a timely manner.” 

Before implementing a CLM, Angelina began most of her workdays putting out fires. With multiple contracts always moving through different departments concurrently, Ikena craved insight into the process. Luckily, Agiloft was the remedy. 

“The implementation of Agiloft streamlined our approval process,” Angelina said. “Not only does Finance have greater visibility, but the whole company gained insight. Today, when a contract is approved, the signature process is visible. Even our auditors have the ability to find agreements and easily view the approval and signature process within the system.”

Starting your CLM journey on the right foot

Implementing any new technology will have immediate benefits, unexpected learning curves, and a large investment of patience and time. As such, Ikena devoted 24 well-spent weeks to their successful Agiloft implementation.  

Ikena started by paying close attention to their contract request intake form, making sure each field captured critical information.  

“Prior to implementing the Agiloft system, we created a test form that was continuously revised. It’s still an ongoing process, but Agiloft’s flexibility makes change easy,” Angelina said.  

Another ingredient to a successful implementation is company-wide training.  

“Once the system was set up, I created a training manual with step-by-step procedures,” Angelina said. “In addition, we made hands-on CLM training mandatory for every employee whether or not they use the system. Continued education is also available along with regular CLM check-ins at our departmental quarterly meetings. We listen and use the informative updates to revise the internal training manual.”

Streamlining more than contract management

“A strong CLM solution affects more than contract management,” Toriello pointed out. “It enhances compliance and allows for automated reporting. Especially for an IPO or public company.”

He then asked Angelina: “What was Ikena able to solve or improve with Agiloft’s automation tool?” 

One of the reasons Ikena, a publicly-traded corporation, chose Agiloft was to stay stock compliant. Agiloft CLM smoothly integrated Legal and Finance while providing a host of added benefits for Finance, including an easier end-of-quarter close out and better budgeting for the quarter ahead.  

Additionally, the company aligned Finance with all its internal programs. Now, the team can view and run reports by program, dollar value, and vendor.  

Another outcome made possible by Angelina’s continued CLM education is her customized Agiloft dashboard. In it, she has created fields that give her insight into expiring contracts, agreements in draft, ones awaiting review, average approval times, and estimated overall signature wait times. 

The right CLM solution scales for an unseen future

“Scalability is a necessary CLM pre-purchase consideration,” Doucette said. “A project that begins as Legal-led eventually may need to incorporate and facilitate other departments. Do you have any tips for ensuring a CLM tool is flexible enough to work with other departments?”  

Angelina answered: “Before investing valuable time into evaluating a CLM solution, collect feedback from the various people within each department including internal owners.”

Below were a few key questions that Angelina said helped guide her CLM solution selection: 

  • Will the CLM solution grow with the company?  
  • Will the company’s needs be continuously fulfilled whether it has 30, 80, or 500 employees?  
  • Is the solution robust?  
  • Can it function for all departments? 
  • What are the specific needs of sales, legal, and finance? Will this solution meet those needs?  
  • Do you have a good rapport with your CLM consulting firm? This is critical. It allows a company to ask questions or voice concerns continuously and confidently. 

The key to long-lasting CLM success

CLM success is not only about the evaluation and implementation phases. A company needs ongoing access to educational and support resources, both internal and external.  

Evolving on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, a CLM solution requires an experienced internal point person, such as Angelina, and an educated external team. In order to ensure the IT department’s continued confidence, Ikena purchased a sandbox environment, which they use to test revisions and additions before going live, Angelina said.  

Ready to lead a contract revolution and become the “Contract Hero” at your organization? Contact us today and book a demo. We’ll help you take the first step in a prosperous journey toward operational efficiencies, evolution, and enrichment. 

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