Baking Your Way to a Better Contract Intake Process

Contract Nerds Blog Meme (Sept 2022)Some of my earliest memories are of being in the kitchen learning to bake from my mom and grandmothers. Now, baking is a favorite pastime. Working with contracts is a lot like baking. Hear me out.

Bakers pick the recipe, pull together the ingredients, and put them together the right way to ensure they end up with the best baked goods. Just like bakers, legal professionals must pull together the right ingredients to build a satisfying contract intake process.

For most of my career, I’ve managed contract intake using email, which is rife with flaws, like incomplete information, disorganization, dropped balls, and lack of status visibility. But, like a true baker, we cannot serve dry muffins or stodgy bread. We need to perfect the recipe.

I’ve seen the impact of a good intake process first-hand at Lexion and will share how and what we’ve built with you to help you create your own contract intake process.  And I even throw in my family’s recipe for delicious oatmeal cookies at the end! ????

Pick Your Recipe / Create a Project Plan

You’ll want to start off by pulling all the information you’ll need for a project overview document. Outline the “Why” and then define the “What,” “Who,” “When” and “How.” Don’t skip this step. That’s like trying to bake without a recipe.

Why are you improving upon an existing process?

Defining “why” you’re updating your contract intake process sets you up for success and helps you win over the business when you show how it helps make their lives easier and solves pain points. And, beyond just solving problems, it creates so many benefits, such as:

  • Increasing your and your team’s efficiency;
  • Capturing key metrics for ease of tracking and reporting;
  • Accelerating the sales cycle; and
  • Earning and sustaining trust with your internal business clients.

???? In the case of baking, I bake to make me happy. Pretty easy “why”.

What is the scope of this project?

While the process may work the same for all contracts, the details and stakeholders differ by contract type. Make sure to identify “what” contract types this intake process will impact – NDAs, vendor agreements, sales contracts, partnership agreements, etc.

???? I’ve got a lot of cookie recipes I love, but I’m making my oatmeal cookies.

Who will be impacted by this process?

You can simply assign tasks to stakeholders to own, but a responsibility assignment matrix (or “RACI”) takes this a step further by categorizing stakeholders into “responsible”, “accountable”, “consulted”, and “informed” categories. This ensures that stakeholders are involved in the right ways during the update process.

???? Oatmeal cookies can have lots of add-ins – M&Ms, chocolate chips, raisins. Everyone in my family (a cookie stakeholder) has a favorite, so I make sure I get input before I decide what to include.

When and how are you going to get this done?

A project timeline functions as the backbone of any project. Put together a proposed timeline and make sure stakeholders have time to review and give feedback.

You’ll also need to identify the technical resources you have at your disposal. Your IT and engineering team, especially in today’s world, is extremely busy and requests from Legal are going to take a back seat to all other projects. The less technical resources needed, the better

Do you have a tool like Lexion that is able to manage and track workflows from intake and management post-signature? Great! You’re already a step ahead. There are many different types of tools out there, but they’re not built for the contract negotiation use case. It’s like substituting baking soda for baking powder – you won’t get that perfect result.

As a busy working mom, I’m thoughtful about how I spend my time. Sunday afternoons are for meal prep and baking. If I’m busy, I’ll often put together a schedule for the day with temperatures, resting times, and any other info I may need to stay organized.

Baking Time / Building the Intake Process

Here’s how I manage the contract intake process at Lexion. What’s great about Lexion is that you can create a different contract intake form for each request to help you manage the unique needs of each deal or business group.

Step 1 – Identify Each Intake Form

Having a tool like Lexion allows me to stay organized, manage my work in one place. I off start by identifying all the categories of work I need to capture.

Image 1 – Intake Forms

Step 2 –  Build Out the Forms

 Once I have my categories identified, I determine the makeup of each intake form. I work with stakeholders (e.g., sales, customer success, finance) to ensure I’m capturing any information they need as well. Common fields are going to include:

  • Description of purpose
  • Counterparty
  • Effective date
  • Term of the contract
  • Contract value
  • Will PII be exchanged?
  • Who will sign for the counterparty?
  • Confirmation that the owner has reviewed the commercial terms
  • Commercial terms to be added or modified
  • Requested completion date

Here’s a 10-second video of me showing you what one of my forms looks like on Lexion.

Step 3 – Test Usability

Next, I configure and test the various intake forms with the business. Lexion is easy to customize and gives me the flexibility I need to create robust intake forms and update them on the fly without impacting in-flight tasks.

Image 2 – Task Overview

I’m also able to generate dynamic contracts based on the intake form inputs, build approval workflows into the generated task, and ensure the business has the real-time visibility they want – without bugging me for updates!

Image 3 – Document Preview

Lexion has helped our legal team better manage the intake of contract and non-contract related requests AND requires minimal change management – the business can submit requests via email or from a Salesforce opportunity that automatically links to Lexion!

The Result

Now that I have a contract intake process that’s been adopted by all (thank you, email workflow and simplicity) and a single workspace to manage all my tasks, the business has complete visibility, balls are not accidentally getting dropped, and key metrics and insights are unlocked. Even the best cookie can’t beat those victories. Learn more ways to develop and quantify your contracts data.

Image 4 – Insights

And Finally, Krysta’s Family Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

As for me, I’ll be using some of the time I save using Lexion to bake! My family recipe can be found below if you’re interested in a delicious cookie. Feel free to save this image to your phone and share with your family and friends!

Image 5 – Recipe

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