Contracts and Obligations – No wonder marriage is a tricky subject7

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Monitoring software application permissions, guiding workflows, creating dashboards, and setting up alerts – sounds like the perfect job for a contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform, right? It is. As long as it’s the right platform.

A CLM platform can be invaluable for application administration, providing business stakeholders with key data for cost-benefit analysis, risk mitigation, vendor management, and legal compliance.

However, relying on a CLM platform that’s not equipped to handle these critical tasks can lead to more than just buyer’s regret.

Imagine your team struggling with inconsistent access rights, unclear workflows, and missing alerts in your CLM system. The result? Delays in contract processing, increased risk exposure, and a general lack of visibility into contract lifecycles.

Ultimately, using the wrong CLM platform for application administration may hinder efficiency, increase compliance risks, and damage business relationships and your business’s reputation.

How can you find the right CLM platform for your application administration needs? Look to the pros – those in the industry (e.g., analyst reports) and the ones inside your business. We’ll dive deeper into this later, but first, let’s explore what a CLM platform can do for application administration.

What Is Application Administration?

Application administration, often referred to as application management, is the administrative setup and management of an application, including users, permissions, workflows, access rights, user dashboards, and alerts/reminders. It involves the deployment, operation, and maintenance of software applications to ensure that applications run smoothly, securely, and effectively.

When it comes to contract management, business teams have often historically “set it and forget it” — but a contract can be a vital source of business insight when managed well.

What Does a Smooth Application Administration Process Look Like?

Efficiently managing and deploying software applications within an organization requires:

  • Clear and up-to-date documentation of the application’s installation, configuration, and maintenance processes.
  • Standardized procedures for common tasks – installation, updates, and troubleshooting – and consistent naming conventions and file structures.
  • Automation tools to streamline repetitive tasks and reduce manual errors.
  • Version control systems to manage changes to the application codebase.
  • Security measures with robust access controls and permissions to protect against vulnerabilities.
  • Monitoring and logging tools to track application performance and detect issues, along with comprehensive logging for debugging and auditing.
  • Backup and recovery plans that minimize downtime in case of failures.
  • User training, adoption, and support for administrators and end-users.
  • Monitoring and scalability to record use and accommodate growth.
  • Communication channels for team collaboration and to notify users and administrators about updates, downtime, or changes.
  • Compliance and governance to adhere to regulatory compliance standards and ensure you manage applications according to organizational guidelines.
  • Performance optimization, including updates and patches to enhance the efficiency of the application.
  • Feedback mechanisms for collecting feedback from users and administrators to continuously improve the application and administration processes.
  • Disaster recovery planning to mitigate the impact of catastrophic events on application availability.
  • Collaboration and coordination among development, operations, and other relevant teams.

Incorporating these elements into the application administration process can help software processes operate smoothly and securely while remaining adaptable. Regular reviews and updates are essential to align processes with evolving organizational needs and technological advancements.

How Does Application Administration Apply to Contract Management?

Application administration for contracts involves managing software applications that handle the various stages of a contract’s life, from pre-signature to renewal or termination. In addition to standard application administration, it focuses on ensuring that the CLM software operates efficiently, meets the organization’s needs, and aligns with business objectives, such as:

  1. Integration with other systems like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) for seamless data flow and consistency across the organization.
  2. Vendor management, including contract negotiations, service level agreements, procurement optimization, and ongoing communication.
  3. Ensuring compliance with relevant legal and regulatory guidelines.

Where Does Application Administration Fit in the Contract Lifecycle?

Application administration can be a significant factor in every stage of the contract lifecycle – from pre- to post-signature and through its final stages.

During the pre-signature stage, it can help identify the technical requirements and capabilities necessary for a proposed solution. During contract negotiation, it can help determine technical specifications that need to be in the contract, such as integration with existing systems, security protocols, and data backup procedures.

Throughout post-signature implementation, application administration plays a crucial role in setting up and configuring new systems according to the specifications outlined in a contract. Once a new system is in place, it’s typically responsible for ongoing functionality/security/performance testing, system maintenance and updates, issue resolution, and monitoring/reporting.

Finally, the data from application administration reports – such as performance metrics and KPIs – can be used to determine whether a contract should be renewed, renegotiated, or terminated.

How Do You Implement an Application Administration Process?

Implementing application administration into contract management workflows involves a combination of best practices from both application administration and contract management domains. 

  1. Clearly define and communicate the roles and responsibilities of individuals involved in the contract management process. This includes contract managers, administrators, reviewers, and other stakeholders. Make sure everyone understands their duties and limitations.
  2. Grant users role-based access to ensure that users have appropriate access levels and can view, edit, and/or approve contracts. Implement user authentication mechanisms and consider incorporating multi-factor authentication to enhance security. Integrate the contract management system with your organization’s identity management system for centralized control over user identities, authentication, and authorization.
  3. Develop a plan to regularly audit user access, system activities, and contract data to identify anomalies or potential security issues. You’ll want to regularly review and update access permissions based on changes in roles or responsibilities. Also, encourage user feedback to identify areas for improvement, especially as the needs or goals of the business change.

Determining the Best CLM Solution for Optimal Application Administration

To find a CLM solution that best fits your application administration needs, look inside and outside your organization. Start by defining who will use the software and discuss with them how they’ll use it and what data and information they hope to extract from it.  

Consider how it will integrate with existing systems, if users need alert/reminder features, and what reporting should look like. Then, research what industry experts have to say. Two top industry resources are:

Gartner Magic Quadrant Report for CLM – The 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contract Life Cycle Management report provides an in-depth view of the CLM vendor landscape by offering analysis, visual snapshots, and actionable advice into the market’s direction, maturity, and participants. You can learn more about how to read this report here

Gartner Critical Capabilities for CLM – The Critical Capabilities report is an essential companion to the Gartner Magic Quadrant and provides deeper insight into the CLM market by extending the Magic Quadrant analysis.

The insights you find should provide enough information to help determine which CLM platform is right for your business. But you’ll still want to explore our articles on some of the other Critical Capabilities that Sirion and Gartner feel are most important when selecting a CLM. Check them out below: 

Additional Resources