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How Legal Ops Pros Roll Out Their CLM Across the Org

October 17, 2023 4 min read
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Is your team’s CLM momentum enough to spin it up in other departments? Yes—but you need a plan. While sheer enthusiasm goes a long way in rolling out a CLM to other teams, attitude alone isn’t enough to get other people to adopt a new tool.

Here’s what you need to know about rolling out your CLM to other departments to get more insights, improve processes, and increase ROI.

Follow these steps to roll out a CLM to other departments

Every department in your organization is busy juggling its own workloads, goals, and constraints. That means getting them to add another step to their day can be a tall order, even if that step will save them time. While every CLM implementation requires some in-the-spot thinking and flexibility, these six steps create a framework to make the process smoother.

Identify potential partners

In-house legal and legal ops teams are typically the product champions for CLMs, but nearly every department benefits from the tool in some way. You can even get creative and use existing CLM tools, like data intake workflows, for unique use cases, like ticketing or project management.

To start your CLM expansion project, list the teams or departments you think can leverage the CLM. Here are a few common examples of how CLMs impact the organization:

Choose a starting team

Now that you have big plans and idyllic visions for every team leveraging a CLM, it’s time to rein it in. Starting with one other department lets you slowly expand your CLM’s reach while testing the waters for a full roll-out.

Where should you start? There are a few criteria that make CLM collaboration easier.

Relationships. Personal connections matter; if you already know and work with someone on another team, it can create momentum in the project. Choosing an implementation partner or co-leader will also help you personalize the approach in the following steps. If you already have another department on board, you can leverage their relationships to expand to yet another team.

Shared workflows. Where does your department naturally cross paths with the other team? A shared workflow, like procurement contracts for new vendors, is a natural place to start. You could expand the CLM to the group you collaborate with most or the one with the most challenging bottlenecks.

Willingness to change. Some teams and collaborators are stuck in their ways, while others are quicker to see the value of progress. Starting with a department open to new technology can gain momentum and buy-in to affect organizational change.

Business goals. If you’ve seen your CLM impact a business goal or KPI revenue, look for teams with shared priorities, like sales and legal. Showing your results and sharing your first-hand experience around particular goals can offer a shared interest and vocabulary.

Start small to set the course

At this point in the process, it’s time to talk to the other team about the potential project. Ask the department about their goals, share your ideas, and show them the CLM in action.

For example, you can host a lunch and learn to present your CLM plus a summary of your accomplishments before opening the floor to ask about the team’s current challenges. Since the other department might not know what’s possible, you can bring a few ideas of how the CLM can help them.

Letting the other departments try the CLM for themselves is also powerful. Sandra Jadur, Associate Director of Contracts at Innovapptive, used this strategy to boost CLM adoption with the sales team.

“I was so enthusiastic that I think that’s why I got good adoption, and my salespeople love it. I got into sandbox mode and made all these fake contracts so they could see how to use it.”

Sandra Jadur

Create an implementation plan

Your discussions with the other department may have revealed a burning problem that’s the perfect place to start with a CLM.

For example, Charlene Barone, Director of Legal Operations & Strategy at Orangetheory, got AI buy-in by proposing a plan for a tedious project. Charlene had an idea to use Ironclad AI to consolidate over 1,000 unique contracts and asked her GC if she could give it a try. The test went better than expected, increasing excitement for the new tool.

If there isn’t a particular project looming, you can pick a smaller project to start with:

Make the introduction personal and engaging

Nobody wants to put on—or sit through—a boring presentation, so you should personalize training materials for each team. Quora’s Legal Ops Lead, Adrie Christiansen, made engaging content that got the sales team on board with a new CLM. Adrie made sales-specific guides and quick snippet how-to videos, then helped teammates work through issues with weekly office hours.

“My goal was to put myself out there and make sure people know if they have questions, I’m the person to come to and I’m available.”

Adrie Christiansen

Measure, report, repeat

Each time you loop a new teammate into your CLM, you can measure their impact and use it to amplify the tool even more. Daniel Michalek, formerly the Legal Ops Manager at Branch, relied on contract data to quantify the legal team’s impact and make informed business decisions.

“Data tells a story. And data gets leadership and executives to buy in.”

Daniel Michalek

Contract data like contract value, volume, and turnaround time illustrate your CLM’s impact and can convince other teams to join in. Learning from your legal peers through community discussions and podcasts to gain ideas for future CLM roll-outs is also helpful.

Adding a new tool takes patience, creativity, and empathy

Rolling out a CLM to a new team takes time, though the process is faster when your CLM is easy to use. Pre-planning and organization set expectations and help each team feel represented, which establishes a solid foundation. Of course, having a CLM partner helps, too. When you’re ready to roll out a CLM to other departments, remember to be patient, creatively customize the process, and have empathy for each new team.

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