The inaugural webinar in the Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions series Legal Ops ACCELERATE was held on April 23rd and provided valuable information about an important step in the contract lifecycle management (CLM) implementation process: legacy contract migration. Lee Matthews, New Ventures Strategy Director at Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, was joined by Samir Bhatia, who is the CEO and Founder of Brightleaf Solutions. The presenters talked about why migrating legacy contract data is key to CLM businesses, what to expect and plan for when preparing for your own migration, and what are the most important data-related decisions organizations should consider in this process.
Why migrate legacy contracts?
The work involved in migrating legacy contracts into a new CLM solution is not trivial. So, why not simply start populating the system with new contracts as they are signed and leave legacy contracts out of it? There are several reasons, including the following:
- Information – Your organization’s existing contracts contain valuable knowledge that will simply be lost if legacy contracts are not included in a new CLM solution.
- Reporting – When a contract is left out of your CLM tool, the system cannot help you report on critical information contained in it, such as when it is due for renewal, and whether you have a revenue recovery opportunity due to a supplier not meeting their obligations.
- Compliance – If an existing contract is not migrated into your CLM system, you cannot use the new tool to track items in it that could be affected by regulatory changes.
Extracting contract data
Legacy contract migration involves moving all contract data and metadata from hard drives, SharePoint, or whatever location or solution they currently reside in and putting that information into a CLM system. The metadata extraction step is critical to the value you’ll get out of your CLM system over the long term because it will provide the key to how you can track and report on your contracts.
While there are some common attributes that are extracted by almost every company – such as effective date, jurisdiction, parties, etc. – there is no one-size-fits-all approach because some of your data needs will be specific to your business. In order to determine what information to bring into your new solution, your organization should collectively decide which data fields will be useful to your users in their contract management processes. Samir recommends keeping a “rulebook” that defines how each attribute is defined and extracted.
With any data extraction, even when assisted by an artificial intelligence tool, there will be some data cleanup involved. For example, optical character recognition often produces imperfect results, especially if any of the content scanned is smudged or handwritten. In addition, you’ll need people – preferably attorneys – to match contracts to addenda and clear up any discrepancies or ambiguities.
Ask the right questions
To ensure that you approach your legacy contract migration in a way that best meets your organization’s needs, you should gather your stakeholders and brainstorm around the following questions.
- What documents need to be considered for migration and reporting?
- What reports will users need to generate in the CLM system?
- What data-points need to be extracted?
- What format does each group require for the extracted data?
- How should you phase the extraction and roll out?
The answers will help you plan your data extraction and will start you on the right path toward a CLM implementation that meets the needs of everyone in your organization.
This synopsis includes only a small portion of the information covered in this informative webinar. For much more detail, watch the recorded webinar Successful CLM Implementation: Legacy Contract Migration.