xMentium Reframes Contract Management as Faster Deals
What follows is a quick look at xMentium’s current positioning and some lessons I have learned from their realization of the customer’s true need–or at least the need that emerged once you have contracts under revision control in a searchable repository. SKMurphy has been an advisor since February of 2020 (xMentium was founded in August of 2019). The quoted material comes from the current (as of Oct 1, 2021) version of the xMentium home page. Of course, any opinions are purely my own.
Deals Made Faster & Better
Join the legal professionals who are transforming their contract language into dynamic resources for getting deals done. From solo GCs to enterprise Legal Departments, xMentium helps you organize and share your deal rules to make business happen.
Contract management software has traditionally focused on version control of legal agreements, not helping two parties reach a better deal in less time. Capterra lists 409 possible solutions, so it’s a crowded market, but the focus is on document control and workflows inside of one party, not both. The most recent generation of tools now promises to deploy the full armamentarium of machine learning algorithms toward better categorize and understand an agreement. But too much focus text analytics loses sight of the fact a contract is an agreement between two parties.
Make Your Contract Language Work for You
You and your partners have ways of working which are captured in your contracts. Get untapped value out of your contract language by turning your templates and legacy contracts into powerful, manageable, and reusable components.
Here are two analogies for what I see xMentium offering.
- Chip design: Laying the groundwork for the transition from the use of detailed structural descriptions (“netlists”) that focus on particular contract language to a higher level representation similar to hardware description languages (HDL) like Verilog or VHDL that enable logic synthesis or design compilation.
- DevOps: moving from static scripts that are infrastructure as code (IaC) models like Puppet, Chef, and Terraform based configuration management).
Free Your Legal Team: Your negotiators are too busy to be hunting for prior work, digging out templates, and serving as expensive concierges for low-risk contracts and legal documents. Give them deal assistance at their fingertips to work more efficiently while freeing them from mundane paper-pushing.
Empower Your Deal Makers: Give everyone in your organization self-service access to the legal forms and letters they need to get deals done. Get everyone on the same page and put your best foot forward with consistent, current, and great-looking legal documents.
Lawyers are highly compensated and are accustomed to measuring their value by the time expended. Certainly, in private practice, they usually bill at a high hourly rate. However, I think it’s sometimes hard to determine their truly high-value activities. So that’s one challenge to navigate: determining where lawyers can add value.
In addition, we have seen systems introduced into medical care–electronic health records come to mind–that have not been beneficial. They often are just a way to overlay additional micromanagement of physician behavior that does not improve the quality of care. So that us a second challenge: avoiding micromanagement that substitutes the facilitating measurable instead of the valuable.
Salespeople are typically compensated on the value of a deal that they deliver. They are in another universe compared to attorneys, except perhaps contingent fee arrangements common in personal injury cases. Bootstrappers look more like salespeople; they have to close a deal and deliver on their promises to get paid.
Content management systems that support controlled access for edit, explicit review, text search, and intelligent document comparison have removed some key pain points since I got involved in software deal negotiations in the early 80’s. Of course these same kinds of tools also had a good effect on software development. I think what’s more useful is helping sales and business development get a quick readout on where the key differences are in the current positions between the two parties–not as a text diff, but as a high level summary (similar to what Creative Commons does to encode the key differences between various flavors of licensing.
I think software tools that make specialized functions more productive will require applications to support personnel with the same domain expertise as the customers they support. There may be less need for this where the new tool fits the customer’s current cognitive task model and uses familiar affordances. If they are “better” tools that are form, fit, and function compatible with the customer’s current practices, that transition may be so straightforward that little specialized support is needed.
But where those tools involve a change in methods and workflow compared to current practice, it’s not enough to explain how the software works. The vendor must provide guidance and support for work redesign, collaborating with the customer to scope, pilot, and evolve current practices to new ones that take advantage of the new technology’s affordances. And both the vendor and the customer have to enter into an ongoing improvement effort situated in the value stream that the customer needs to deliver to their customers, whether they are other departments in the same firm or arms-length transactions with independent firms.
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