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IT Teams: What to Look For in a CLM

October 24, 2023 3 min read
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This isn’t your first time evaluating software to help your org make a secure and impactful decision—but what should you consider when assessing a CLM?

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) platforms like Ironclad manage digital agreements with customers, vendors, partners, or employees. In other words, we deal with sensitive information across multiple teams like legal, sales, procurement, and HR.

Here are the details you should look for to go beyond high-level market analyst evaluations to find a tool that meets your standards.

Questions to ask during your CLM evaluation

IT teams need the right vendor information in the right amount. Too much detail makes it difficult to compare options, while too little doesn’t instill confidence. Whether you’re about to compare Ironclad with other CLM options or are swimming in sales team documentation, here are the questions you should ask and the info you should look for to cut through the noise.

How secure is the software’s data management?

CLM security is likely your top concern as an IT pro, particularly since the tools contain confidential company information and personal data. You need to trust that the company handles data securely, whether there’s any history of breaches, and what security controls and features you’ll have.

  • What data compliance accreditations do they have? Data compliance certifications, like ISO level ratings, HIPAA, GDPR, and CSA, indicate how the company manages its data. Looking for these accreditations gives you peace of mind without manually reviewing data management policies.
  • Do they make it easy to self-assess and confirm? The best CLM partners are secure but transparent. Look for organizations with a CAIQ self-assessment, downloadable certification documents, hosting details, third-party dependence, and data access level information rather than taking their word for their practices.
  • Which data security features are included? Security features like backups, complete data deletion, and encryption-at-rest are relevant for CLMs, especially those that have integrated AI tech.
  • Can you manage permissions? You should be able to adjust who can access particular data types.
  • What is their security score? Some companies have third-party security scores through organizations like SecurityScorecard, ImmuniWeb, and Qualys SSL Labs.

Is the CLM customizable?

If someone wants to add a contract tool to your tech stack, it needs to play nice with the software and processes you already have. Your internal teams need to consider customization features to make the CLM fit into the business, while IT teams should assess integrations and APIs.

  • What integrations are available? Look for connections to your current tools and popular apps like Salesforce, Coupa, and OneTrust.
  • What are its API capabilities? Evaluate what you can do with the data to incorporate it into the business.

Will the investment be future-proof?

Evaluating and adding a new tool is a big lift, which means you don’t want to be in a rush to do it again soon. Your future CLM needs scalability and extensibility so your IT investment pays off in the long term.

  • What is the CLM’s IT infrastructure? Consider whether you can scale capacity up or down as needed.
  • Has the CLM won industry recognition? Third-party evaluations, like the IDC CLM MarketScape Report or the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CLM consider scalability and security in their scoring.

What vendor support and maintenance is available?

IT doesn’t always go to plan, and you need to know that your CLM is a partner, not just a vendor. Talk to each contender about the technical support they offer.

  • What IT support is available? Gauge the problem resolution routes and whether they vary by plan level.

What are their AI features, philosophy, and protocols?

Teams in your organization may be excited about testing AI in their workflow, but you have to vet it before incorporating it into your IT structure.

  • What is the company’s AI perspective? Read up on how they approach the technology, their research and development approach, and who they work with.
  • What AI documentation do they make public? Look for information on the features, models, permissions, and certifications.

Look for a CLM that works for everyone

IT teams involved in CLM evaluation should ask questions about security, customization, future-proofing, vendor support, and AI. There are likely multiple stakeholders and groups involved in the CLM decision, though, so there has to be common ground throughout the process.

Check out our CLM buyer’s guide for more tips on choosing the best contract management software for your organization.

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