Why nobody uses that software you bought (and how to make sure they do)

Alex McPhie, 1 July 2019

It’s always hard to get the business to agree to buy software. A strong
business case and buy-in from the right stakeholders are hard to come by. So there’s nothing more frustrating than finally securing the solution you think will address your pain points - only to find that your colleagues aren’t using it.

Failure to adopt technology is a common problem for lawyers in private practice, particularly those still billing by the hour. But in corporate legal departments, or in other teams working with legal tech (like sales and HR), it's hard to understand why technology isn’t fully adopted - particularly when it can deliver so much value to time-crunched teams.

The tech sector has adapted by making it easier and easier to find new solutions and switch to them: live chat pop-ups on vendor sites, aggressive sales cycles and generous trial periods are commonplace. But contract management is still a long way behind other software categories when it comes to full adoption, and it’s not going unnoticed: a Clyde & Co survey found that amongst the company directors they surveyed, approval of GCs’ ability to leverage technology hovers at a lowly 27%. So why isn’t contract management software adopted? What are we at Juro doing to change this? And how can you make sure the solution you buy actually gets used?

Why is adoption of contract management software so poor?

Some of the problems that cause contract management software to be poorly adopted are the same as those faced by other software sectors - it’s just that other industries have been quicker to address them. Here are the main barriers to adoption:

Terrible user experience 😵

This might seem obvious but often people don’t use software because the software in question is horrible to use. Most of the intended users of contract platforms are relentlessly busy - lawyers, salespeople, HR, procurement - and faced with the prospect of getting stuck into an impenetrable, byzantine interface, they’d rather stick with what they’ve got.

Juro was by no means first to market in the contract management space, and one way we’ve been able to catch up is by putting design first. We never stop talking about legal design and design sprints here, and Juro’s adoption (and expansion) rates show that investing in making every user interaction delightful really counts when it comes to wide adoption.

Heavy training burden 🧐

The new generation of contract management platforms have a lot of horsepower under the hood, especially if their AI capabilities are real (and not just marketing buzzwords). But even the most powerful tool might still stay on the shelf if it requires weeks and weeks of your time to understand. In order to be widely adopted, solutions must be quickly understood without a huge time cost in training - otherwise time-crunched users will skip the training and, in all likelihood, skip the new software too.

At Juro we focus on making our user interface as human and intuitive as possible, taking our cues from the design-first systems we used every day, like Google and Slack. We go even further and integrate with those solutions too, to make sure you can work in the systems where you feel most comfortable.

Login overload 🤯

New business software solutions often come a cropper because they require you to remember yet another login / password combination, and it’s easy to lose track. Best practice for data security is escalating all the time, and users get frustrated having to come up with a new 12-character password every three months that includes special characters, numbers, and upper- and lower-case letters. And if you get locked out, you can bet that your password reset is not going to be a high priority for your long-suffering IT helpdesk.

One way we work to mitigate this risk is to integrate Juro’s sign-on with Google and with Slack; that way you only need to authenticate once to access your contracts. Single sign-on and SAML integration are key milestones coming up in our open product roadmap that should help even more - stay tuned for updates.

No vendor support for adoption 😢

In a competitive space like contract management, it’s far too common for vendors to forget about user adoption once deals are over the line. The reality is that getting users to value, and making sure the champion customer manages to achieve widespread adoption, is just as important to the vendor as the sale itself - because nobody is going to renew a subscription that isn’t being used.

At Juro we focused on customer success early. My team is dedicated to getting customers to value, with multiple users creating contracts, as soon as possible, driven by aggressive KPIs. We also use Intercom to provide round-the-clock live chat support, to make sure users are comfortable in Juro as quickly as possible. The below is a typical picture for Juro adoption, with the rows being customers, the columns being months and the numbers representing the number of active users. This number increasing from left to right is an indicator of strong adoption.

X axis = months; Y axis = customers; number = number of active users

Siloed knowledge 🤐

If a contract management system is hard to use, it’s all too easy for the intended users to rely on one or two individuals to be its gatekeepers. They take responsibility for using the solution and becoming experts in its features and operations. The problem comes when they move to another role or another company, and leave behind huge knowledge gaps that time-pressured colleagues struggle to fill. Software goes back on the shelf and its value is lost.

One way to counteract this is to make initial sign-up and use of the solution as easy, intuitive and frictionless as possible. The more users have experience of the tool, the more likely they are to accrue knowledge and to be able to step up to replace more senior users if required. We also check in regularly with users in person, getting feedback on the product, looking for new users who might benefit, and setting up webex training to make sure everyone is as skilled in the product as they can be.

So how can you ensure people actually use the software you buy?

Thankfully there are a few things you can do to make sure your contract management solution achieves wide adoption. At Juro we work as hard as we can to make sure users get the maximum value from their contracts platform. Here are our top tips to make that happen:

  1. Be clear on what you are trying to achieve with your contract management system. Focus your efforts on the components of the product that will deliver the change you need. Playing around with cool features that don’t solve your problem is ultimately a waste of your time.

  2. Integrate with the existing systems of record and communications platforms you use - whether that’s Salesforce, Workday or Slack - to make it easy for users to make the new solution a part of their day-to-day.

  3. Focus on your internal stakeholders’ actual point of need. For example, there’s no point training the whole sales department if most of them won’t need to create a contract for three months. Deliver appropriate training - whether that’s in-person walkthroughs, video tutorials or documentation on an internal wiki - at the right moment for everyone.

  4. Understand why users might be clinging onto old systems. Inertia is hard to overcome and old habits can be comfortable. Be patient and make sure users understand the real value and ROI that the new solution delivers.

  5. Report the value and ROI back to senior stakeholders. If you’re now creating contracts in 5 minutes instead of 25, work out the value of the time saved for your team and make sure management know about it. They’ll back you to achieve wide adoption and deliver even more ROI.

Try a combination of all these factors to achieve full adoption of the tool you worked so hard to buy, and realise the value that convinced you to choose it in the first place.

Subscribe or follow Juro on LinkedIn for the latest news, views and interviews on legal, sales and everything about contract management software

Topics: Contract magic

Download the guide