Contract lifecycle management: How cats can fix your law department

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. Put another way, everything has a lifecycle. This is true in business and in life.

For in-house lawyers, the mere act of tracking the lifecycles of various matters can sometimes take on a lifecycle of its own. This is the equivalent of having a meeting to plan the meeting. It can be a huge time and resource waster. This is especially true with tracking the lifecycle of contracts where in-house lawyers must rely on non-law department colleagues to move from breaking down to building up, from seeking to losing, from contract creation to the fully executed version. Thankfully, there is some relief available in the form of contract lifecycle management software. That all makes perfect sense so far, but what does this have to do with cats?

Great contract lifecycle management software makes law department management more efficient by mimicking the behavior of cats in at least three very particular ways. While cats don’t usually run around quoting Ecclesiastes, they are methodical, fastidious, and fiercely defensive of their property.

Methodical. If you observe a cat for any length of time, you will note a very particular set of behaviors that repeat themselves with near clock-like precision. Cats eat, play, sleep, and hunt in the same way, at the same time, every day. To be most effective, contract lifecycle management software should similarly provide an easy to administer methodology for running a contract all the way from initial legal request through to the fully executed, filed version. And, it should drive the steps in the process to be done the same way every single time.

Fastidious. Cats are very fastidious about their personal appearance, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Even if you hate cats, and apparently some people do, you have probably noticed that healthy cats groom themselves habitually, and without exception. To avoid the act of tracking a contract lifecycle from becoming a task with a lifecycle of its own, contract lifecycle management software must keep itself clean and groomed. Reporting should be made easy and automatable, finding the status of a contract should be simple and obvious, and the presentation of information should be done in an elegant enough way that the user looks at it and thinks, “there is not a hair out of place.” This of this like TQM in the more generic management context.

Defensive. One thing about cats, they are very defensive of their territory. They like their humans, toys, food, and surroundings to be where they are supposed to be at all times. Try taking a favorite toy away from a cat; the cat will find it and return it to its rightful place post haste. In the same sense, contract lifecycle management software should give a lawyer the ability to know where all her contracts are at any given time, and to track down the wayward ones and return them to their rightful place in the contract lifecycle or repository immediately.

Tools made law department management easier. Great tools make law department management more efficient and help demonstrate value and cost savings. So, when you’re in the market, insist on contract lifecycle management software that is methodical, fastidious and defensive, just like a cat.