Why Microsoft Dynamics 365 is - or is not - perfect for contract management
As I sat down to write this blog, I repeatedly thought to myself that I drew the short stick on this one. My blog topic – or shall I suggest, my blog challenge – “Why Microsoft Dynamics 365 is perfect for enterprise contract management”. I, of course, work for a contract management software company so I have an extensive background in contract management and the variety of different contract management software offerings. And, as my company also offers contract management software which integrates into Dynamics 365 CRM, I also have a fair amount of familiarity with this topic. But, a piece focused on why Dynamics 365 is perfect for contract management is not one where I have a tremendous amount of experience.
So, like all good researchers, I googled my topic. My search terms included the obvious: “Why Dynamics 365 is perfect for contract management.” I then changed it up a bit: “Why Dynamics 365 is perfect for enterprise contract management”. And, then “Why Dynamics 365 is the perfect tool for your contract management needs”. With few relevant search results, I concluded that my search phrases were too specific. I decided to bring things up a notch: “Dynamics 365 as a platform for contract management”, and then “Dynamics 365 for contract management”. While I was excited to see that one of my prior blogs on a related topic, “Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Contract Management: Connect Sales and Legal Systems for Positive Gains”, ranked quite nicely for this search term, I was not happy to learn that there is not much information on this topic.
As it turns out, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not perfect for enterprise contract management. I’ll say it again: Microsoft Dynamics 365 is not perfect for enterprise contract management.
Dynamics 365 CRM is a Leading Customer Relationship Management Tool
Microsoft Dynamics 365, also known as Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE), is perfect as a customer relationship management or CRM tool. It is a leading tool for managing your customers and your organization’s sales opportunities. It is not the perfect tool or platform to manage your contracts. And, not because there is anything wrong with the platform or any shortcomings; rather, it isn’t designed as a contract management application.
And, while my research provided several leads on how it can be configured to leverage workflows and case management for direct contract requests to your legal team as well as how it can be integrated with third-party e-signature products for efficient contract execution, it provides only a fraction of what an organization needs to effectively manage its contracts.
A robust contract management software supports a wide range of functionalities including a contract-specific repository with complex contract relationship support, collaboration, negotiation, searching, workflow metrics, and tracking, reporting, and dashboard, alerting, and obligation management. It does so for both buy-side and sell-side contracts whereas your CRM tool namely addresses your sell-side engagements.
Even if you are willing to forgo the more robust contract management functionality, and your organization elects to only focus on sell-side contracts, the effort required to configure Microsoft Dynamics 365 to mimic a contract management software application as well as the downstream support requirements is not effort well spent. The existing demands on your IT Department, as well as the general availability of many cloud based contract management software applications – our solution or others - suggest that an out-of-the-box contract management software solution is a far better investment.
The Growing Value of Microsoft Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 can and does deliver tremendous business value to many organizations. Over the past few years, it is progressively broadening the footprint to whom it delivers such value. Dynamics 365 has become one of the top five customer relationship management systems in the market along with Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, and Adobe. Its popularity continues to increase with staggering growth; a few data points of which you are likely unaware: Microsoft cited that Dynamics contributed $5.4 billion to its revenue in the 2023 fiscal year, growing 16% year over year, faster than almost all other major product categories. This is double the growth rate of Microsoft as a whole.
An obvious question presents itself: “What is driving such growth?” This growth is attributable to three main factors. First, the cloud-based CRM environment is experiencing tremendous growth. According to various reports, CRM software is now the biggest software market in the world, its growth is not slowing down, and CRM revenues are expected to reach $80 billion by 2025. This growth is particularly focused on the SaaS/cloud market as opposed to the on-premises market. By way of clarification, MS Dynamics is Microsoft’s older on-premises product whereas Dynamics 365 is their cloud-based product. Also worthy of note; Dynamics 365 consists of various modules including F&O, though for purposes of this blog, the focus is primarily on the CRM tool.
Similarly, Office 365 commercial revenue continues to grow at 15% year over year from 2022 to 2023. The Microsoft 365 platform - includes such productivity tools as Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, and more recently, Dynamics. A company that has adopted Microsoft 365 already has the blessing of its IT, Compliance and Executive Management Teams – thus paving the way for Dynamics 365. The cloud-based nature of the application and the end user’s familiarity with the Microsoft model also enable end-user adoption and provide for a more seamless rollout.
Last and most intriguing is Microsoft's introduction of generative artificial intelligence assistants for the cloud-based Dynamics 365 services. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella elaborates that "Microsoft Sales Copilot, a tool capable of writing business-oriented email drafts, integrates with Dynamics as well as Salesforce’s software." Partly motivated by Microsoft’s AI capabilities, some companies are switching to Dynamics from Salesforce, says Manny Medina, CEO of sales software startup Outreach.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Contract Management
Dynamics 365 is a customer relationship management system that primarily empowers your sales teams to manage their sales opportunities. Dynamics 365 allows your sales team to manage its prospects and customers, to track opportunities and renewals, and to schedule tasks related to both. Further, with Sales Navigator, your Sales Team can readily search the LinkedIn network for new leads and save such leads directly as CRM records.
Empowering your reps with tools to allow them to close more deals and to do so faster allows your organization to recognize more revenue and to do so more efficiently.
The closing of sales opportunities naturally transitions into the contract management process. Put simply, closing a new sales opportunity requires a contract. Upselling an existing opportunity requires an additional order form, SOW or addendum to an existing contract. And, managing a renewal requires that the individual responsible for the renewal has at his or her fingertips various contract details including the term of the contract, the notice period for renewal or termination, and the ability to increase fees year over year.
So, if Dynamics 365 is not perfect for enterprise contract management, how does an organization leverage its existing investment in Dynamics while addressing its contract management needs?
Integrate Your Contract Lifecycle Management Software (CLM) into Dynamics 365
The answer is simple. Implement contract management software that integrates directly with Dynamics 365 so that your sales organization can do what they do best - in the application where they are most productive, Dynamics. Meanwhile, your contract managers can do what they do best in the application where they feel most comfortable, a contract lifecycle management software application.
A solid integration between the two allows your Sales Teams to request contracts directly from Dynamics 365, and to access all of the contract information that they need to progress their opportunities. The customer and prospect information necessary to create the Counterparty and Contract records within the contract lifecycle management system can pass directly from Dynamics to the contract management software system. Sales reps can be empowered to monitor directly the progress of their contracts, renewal opportunities can be automatically created, and the data between the two systems can be synced. Inefficient and error-prone processes are eliminated, including duplicate data entry efforts, manual request and creation processes, and unnecessary email update requests and responses.
A Win, Win. Contracts 365 for Microsoft Dynamics 365
One of our newly acquired customers recently shared that prior to implementing Contracts 365 for Microsoft Dynamics, their growing Sales Team requested contracts for their sales opportunities by sending an email to the General Counsel and his Paralegal. The contract management process proceeded through email communications, and the final signed agreement was saved to a restricted legal folder on the network. Sometimes, these agreements were also saved to Dynamics 365, other times they were not. The final signed version was frequently inaccessible to the Sales Team. Upsell opportunities were a challenge as was the renewal process.
With the implementation of our Contracts 365 contract management software, the General Counsel and his Paralegal now have a cloud-based tool to manage the organization’s contracts effectively. The contract creation process has been automated, and they can benefit from the numerous efficiencies gained through a CLM tool. They no longer need to spend unnecessary time fielding contract requests which can now be managed via a self-service automated model.
The Sales Team also benefits from similar efficiencies by augmenting this implementation with our Contracts 365 for Microsoft Dynamics module. From within their CRM environment, they have all of the information and tools they need to progress their sales process rapidly.
A Win, Win.
Speaking of wins, that previously mentioned short stick transitioned into a very nice learning opportunity. While Dynamics 365 is not perfect for enterprise contract management, Dynamics 365 is an outstanding CRM tool and one which is ever increasing its market share. By coupling this with contract management software designed to integrate with Microsoft, organizations can automate their entire contract lifecycle process.
Contracts 365 –the Leading Contract Management Software for Microsoft 365 Customers
Contracts 365 is the leading contract management software for businesses that run Microsoft 365. With usability, functionality, and security at the forefront of development, Contracts 365 addresses all aspects of the contract lifecycle through a modern, intuitive interface specific to your users. Customer First Cloud Architecture provides IT with the security of Microsoft 365 while powerful prebuilt integrations with Dynamics and Salesforce extend the platform to every part of your business. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to contact us or to request a demo.