Streamlining Quora’s Sales Contracting with a Fast Rip-and-Replace

We have contract metrics now, and can actually see things like how often our paper is being used versus counterparty paper. That’s a huge win.

Adrie Christiansen, Legal Ops Lead, Quora

When Adrie Christiansen joined popular social question and answer site Quora, she came on as Quora’s only legal operations pro, poised to draw upon her experience in the tech industry to build a dedicated legal ops program. Shortly into the new role, Adrie took on her first big challenge: Get rid of Quora’s existing contract lifecycle management (CLM) tool, and replace it with some combination of technology and processes to better support Quora’s contracting activities.

That Quora’s old CLM wasn’t helping the company’s efforts very much was down to both the tool’s lack of automation capabilities and a lack of an intuitive end user experience. “The CLM we had wasn’t set up to scale or grow, and didn’t really work for us,” Adrie explained. It was clear from the get go that the system was not effective. Too often, Adrie found herself manually pushing contracts through to completion in the CLM, which didn’t even support capturing metadata summaries.

When Adrie told her general counsel about the problems with the CLM, he had her compile a list of gaps in the tool to go through with the vendor. They quickly figured out that the system just didn’t support Quora’s needs, and agreed on finding a replacement.

 Successful implementations start with adoption

Having successfully used Ironclad in a previous job, Adrie knew where to start her search for Quora’s new contracting platform. Beyond the glaring need for a CLM with automation capabilities, end user experience, configurable workflows and a reliable signature capture component were at the top of Quora’s list. Ironclad checked all the boxes.

Even the best tools won’t help a company if their users don’t adopt them. So Adrie was proactive, involving a small group of key business stakeholders in the CLM evaluation process, and sending out communications on Quora’s new CLM before it was even implemented. “I kept our business stakeholders in the loop, especially the sales team since they’re our largest group of users,” she said. Adrie framed Ironclad as a tool to make her colleagues’ lives easier, noting how well it integrated with Salesforce, allowing Quora’s team to populate key business information on their contracts automatically.

Adrie also prepped a series of user guides and training materials to support the rollout. Again, she took extra care to get her biggest constituent group up and running, making sales-specific guides and how-to videos — “really quick snippets walking through how to do things” — and holding weekly office hours to help teammates through any issues or questions they had with the new system. “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,” she said.

Creating a collaborative atmosphere around the Ironclad implementation worked for rollout, and it’s a strategy Adrie has continued to employ in the year or so since. She sends out quarterly updates explaining enhancements to the Ironclad platform, and syncs regularly with sales leads to garner feedback and improve processes, both of which she says have helped with overall adoption.

It’s just getting the message out that it's a collaborative effort and we're going to grow and modify the experience so it's the most efficient and works for everybody.

Good data unlocks doors to newfound success

Strange as it might sound in today’s day and age, Quora didn’t really have much in the way of contracting data before Ironclad. While their old CLM did offer limited reporting features, the lack of adoption amongst Quora’s sales teams meant they didn’t have much data in the system to report on.

If my general counsel had asked me to pull data, it would have been an extremely painful manual exercise. We have contract metrics now, and can actually see things like how often our paper is being used versus counterparty paper. That’s a huge win.

Adrie Christiansen, Legal Ops Lead, Quora

Adrie also set up automated monthly and quarterly reports for the finance teams, a welcome improvement over the shared Google sheets salespeople had previously been using to track activity. Automating finance reports also spelled less work for salespeople, since their activities are now captured as part of contracting workflows and no longer need to be manually entered a second time for reporting.

While sales contracting was undoubtedly the main factor in procuring Ironclad as Quora’s CLM, Ironclad is used by the whole business for all contracting requests. And, Adrie continues to meet with cross-functional teams to evaluate additional use cases.

Looking ahead to AI-assisted contracting

With CLM up and running, Adrie’s thinking ahead to getting more out of Quora’s Ironclad instance, including the power of artificial intelligence. “We enabled the AI playbook feature for NDAs and Vendor/Expense agreements and so far it’s helped flag key terms for review,” she said. As a non-attorney increasingly tasked with reviewing contracts, Adrie appreciated having the playbooks available for guidance. She also likes what she’s seen of Ironclad AI Assist — ” I’m excited to see where it goes.”

In the meantime, Ironclad’s automation features are helping with low risk vendor agreements. Adrie set up rules to route those agreements to herself, to a contractor, or to bypass legal review entirely, depending on the specifics. Already, she said, even this relatively light automation is helping drive efficiencies and reduce costs overall. In fact, Adrie has already built out a vendor playbook to further Ironclad’s impact across the company. It’s a big change from the not so distant days of the CLM that nobody used because it wasn’t up to the task, and it’s only just the beginning of a new chapter in Quora’s legal ops evolution.

For more, watch our sales ops webinar to learn how sales and legal can better work together.

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