BPO Thought Process

BPO Thought Process

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Contract Lifecycle Management: The Dinosaur and the Robot – Make Friends not War

I’ve been writing about contract management, LPO, and digital for quite a while now.  But the reality is that when it comes to a company’s contract lifecycle management (CLM), the teams doing contract lifecycle management are not super nextgen, virtual, cloud, automated, robotic, hyper-digital, six-sigma, touchless, integrated, agile…insert next buzzword here participants. And that’s okay. There are a lot of really smart people out there who have done this for years who, dare I say it, may never be “digital”.  Again, that’s okay. 

But while it is okay today, it won’t be tomorrow. The next generation of professionals pursuing careers in contract or commercial management, legal, procurement, or vendor management will have to be able to operate in a highly digital and automated environment. Feel free to argue with me in the comments if you think companies can survive with more “old-school” lawyers or commercial managers.

The future is digital and the present filled with either tech-adopters or the last of a dying breed – dinosaurs. And I use the term “dinosaur” in the most polite way possible. I could very well have named this blog “Robots vs. the Printing Press,” but I doubt there are many Johannes Gutenberg or William Caxton fans still out there. 

Now let’s get to the point. We are in a time where technology is pushing CLM to the next level. The next generation (or perhaps this one) will be doing contracting—and all of the associated activities—without paper, perhaps even without people given the projected direction of blockchain and smart contracting. So if the robots are going to take over, what will we do with the dinosaurs? They are big and powerful, so it would foolish to just bet exclusively on the robot in the short term. Besides, there is the delicate little of matter of “change management,” poor varieties of which have killed many a project.

Therefore, we need to look at building a system in a practical way: 

1.      Put the robots where they can win and take big leaps that create speed, accuracy, savings, and absolute rule-based consistency.

2.      Allow the dinosaurs some room to manoeuvre, add their value, and make the system more intelligent.

This all may sound very theoretical, but I promise to write more details in upcoming blogs.  The point here is to get you all on board with my premise…and allow me to talk about robots and dinosaurs. Seriously, it’s time for CLM to invest in technology, but companies should also allow the dinosaur room to graze. Given some time, they just might evolve.     


About the author

Craig Conte
2 Comments Leave a comment
Great thoughts, Craig. Similar to me being asked "Is automation intended to replace lawyers" when I discuss CLM, Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics or any other of a number of initiatives we're pursuing at Apttus. Usually asked by one of those lawyers that seems to be expecting me to say "No, no, no" and then gently stroke the back of their hand to provide comfort and empathy.... who, instead, are quite shocked when I reply, "Yes" with a level of enthusiasm that's apparently quite shocking to their sensibilities... of course, my response comes with a healthy dose of context... in that if you're a lawyer spending your time negotiating things like standard NDAs or wasting time manually babysitting a document through an approval process, then yes, you should be replaced by automation. Clearly a robot with arms directly proportional to its body will perform the task of tying its own shoe better than a T-Rex, so it's time to either switch to flip flops or assign the task to the most appropriate resource (control of which is sometimes hard to do for dinosaurs). But we must keep in mind that for the time being there are some tasks (negotiating complex, multi-year, cross-border transactions involving hostile regimes and changing regulatory landscapes for instance) that require some good old-fashioned lawyering and interpersonal communication skills to get the job done. These roles change over time, sometimes accelerated by innovation, so the key is to know the right time, the right place and the right way to automate. Someday it may all be automated and I'll be first in line to welcome our robotic overlords as I sip my Cosmic Cola and enjoy my Lunar Lasagna while I loosen my anti-gravity belt.
Craig, Great piece once again. I agree while digital CLM is the way to move forward and change management in theory looks easy but practically very difficult to achieve. Having said in short run both Robot and Dinosaur has to survive; but in long run Dinosaur has adopt digital or get eliminated...

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