In this episode of the Contract Heroes Podcast, we sit down with the incredibly experienced Trayce Marcelle who is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in legal operations management consulting and the Head of US - Legal Operations and Technology Consulting LOD + SYKE.LOD & SYKE are the leading and rapidly expanding experts in legal technology, have collaborated to provide clients with exceptional alternative legal services. They are globally recognized as the biggest and most swiftly advancing specialists in this field.
In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the strategic utilization of technology has become a paramount driver of success. It holds the key to unlocking unprecedented levels of productivity, efficiency, and innovation. But here's the catch: technology alone is not enough. To truly harness its power, organizations must foster a culture of collaboration, breaking down silos and engaging every department in the transformative conversation.
In this episode of the Contract Heroes Podcast, we sit down with the incredibly experienced Trayce Marcelle who is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in legal operations management consulting and the Head of US - Legal Operations and Technology Consulting LOD + SYKE. LOD & SYKE are the leading and rapidly expanding experts in legal technology, have collaborated to provide clients with exceptional alternative legal services. They are globally recognized as the biggest and most swiftly advancing specialists in this field.
During our conversation, Tracy discusses her experience in legal operations management consulting and the importance of incorporating technology into legal operations. She emphasizes the need to make technology work for you and involves other departments in the conversation. We also highlight the challenges of implementing digital transformation projects and the importance of having a clear action plan. The conversation then shifts to contract lifecycle management (CLM) and the challenges of implementing CLM systems. Tracy provides practical solutions and suggests starting with a few key contracts or workflows. We also discuss the challenges of transitioning from one system to another and emphasizes the importance of changing perceptions and proper planning.
Transcript - Trayce Marcelle - Contract Heroes
Intro [00:00:05] You're listening to the Contract Heroes podcast. Your one-stop shop for all things contract management. And now here are your hosts, Marc and Pepe.
Pepe Toriello [00:00:14] Welcome everybody to another episode of that Contract Heroes podcast. We're still at the clock event that begins this time. We have Trayce Marcelle. She's the head of U.S. and Legal Operation and Technology Consulting at LOD + SYKE. Welcome to the show, Trayce.
Trayce Marcelle [00:00:31] Thanks. Glad to be here.
Marc Doucette [00:00:34] So, Trayce, what is your take on the conference? I'm sure you've probably been at one of these before.
Trayce Marcelle [00:00:39] Yes. And I've seen very little sunlight. It's been glorious because it's really hot outside. A lot of exciting people. A lot of people thrilled about the prospect and who's here. And, you know, you don't often have the opportunity to speak to so many experts in so many different areas in one place. It's traditional Vegas, right? Sensory overload. There are so many different components, information to gather giveaways, swag, drinks. But everybody's invigorated by it. It's exciting to see the energy that people bring in conversations, both sidebars and on the main stage. Pretty exciting.
Pepe Toriello [00:01:15] That's awesome. So, Trayce, can you tell us a little bit about your experience and your background for people that haven't met you before?
Trayce Marcelle [00:01:23] I have a very interesting background. People have referred to me as a unicorn because I have such a varied level of experience across a bunch of different things. I work for an organization for a while, I was the only person that offered the service that we offered, and so I covered the project from start to finish. Obviously, I had some stints in help in know different areas, but I learned a little about a lot and over time I've learned a lot about a lot and I love the stuff. I could talk about it all day. So the more I talk to people, the more I learn. And so I've done legal operations management consulting for over 20 years now, and I've done really, really big projects helping really revolutionize the organizations that way they're using technology. I'm a Six Sigma black belt, so how they're utilizing process management and optimization, they've done data migrations, integrations, custom sealing builds, remediation of improperly implemented solutions. I recently wrote a blog. You know, it's not you, it's me, right? If you really, really hate a technology from start to finish, it's because you didn't implement it in the right way.
Pepe Toriello [00:02:32] Right. And what like in your experience, because, you know, like when we talk about legal innovation and legal tech, that's like a buzzword, right? Because there's not like only one solution that can fix everything. So in your experience, when a company either that that's like a big corporation, global corporation or a mid-market company like what they're usually or why they come to you to help them. And can you tell us a little bit in some of your big projects or the ones that you remember the most?
Trayce Marcelle [00:03:06] So I was just having this conversation earlier about the buzzword legal tech. You don't hear H.R. tech, you don't hear people in talent tech. Why can't it just be inherent in the understanding that in order to operate efficiently, you need some level? See, that was a good idea. Did you hear that? You have to live in Vegas? Yes. You have to implement something to allow you to do that in a way that's efficient, and who does it in any other way that isn't technology like. And we use that in every aspect of our life. But it sometimes it feels foreign as an investment by a legal department to do that. And I know getting money is hard and identifying the return on investment in the business case is difficult, but it's such a norm now that you can find a technology that offers one thing because, you know, at the end of the day, contracting is contracting right end to end. You want to from idea to invoice, whether you're introducing CPQ or just contract management lifecycle. But every tool does something really well in this day and age with the low-code no code solutions, you can actually take something that is really, really good in a product and configure it in a way that supports your need. For example, I was working with a client who had a lot of patents and they were struggling to manage the patents internationally because country law changes so often, tracking that and being able to action those patents related on those laws and the changes, you would lose your patents because you can't manage them, especially if you were a major global organization. So I worked with a tool that actually had country law inherent in that tool and built that management system around it. So you utilizing that thing, it does really well. I was able to configure all of our other aspects to take that from end to end. At the end of the day, it's just an end to end process, whether it's contracting or H.R. processes internal or external. It's a workflow. And if you take the technology out of it and start having conversations about what you want to get out of the system, your intended result, you're going to find that your world will open in a way that allows you to see these things for what they can do for you instead of you adapting to the technology that you have in front of you.
Marc Doucette [00:05:26] Right. And I mean, I think that that's so important, right? You. You need to make the technology work for you, not not the other way around. And I you know, something else is, you know, we talk about legal tech, right? But it's not it's not legal tech anymore. Right. There needs to be other departments involved in these conversations.
Trayce Marcelle [00:05:42] Yep.
Marc Doucette [00:05:42] And it's great if legal find something that works for them, but that phase two or phase three, they're going to have to incorporate other departments into that workflow. And that's where they get in trouble, where you need to bring them into the conversation early so that you can actually understand what their needs are as well. So that when you're evaluating software, you understand what the actual corporation needs, not just your department.
Trayce Marcelle [00:06:05] Right. So there's, you know, the triangulation of finance, procurement and legal. Whenever I start a project obligation, management, rev rec risk, right. Those are the things you think about. So you have to know what you want out of a system before you build it you don't start with a data model identifying data that you can analyze, manage, report on, and you don't have to get it right straightaway, but you have to have an idea generally of the information supporting you. All of the other information will come from naturally. So you if it legal engages me I asked to talk to procurement , finance. Same thing withProcurement, finance. Everybody needs to be involved in the conversation because it becomes a doorstop than just something one department can use.
Marc Doucette [00:06:45] I mean, even if you're just looking for a repository, right, you need all of that information from the company in there to really run to be able to run those reports. You could have the best tool in the world that has amazing A.I., but if you don't have all of your like data in there, it's just not going to work.
Trayce Marcelle [00:07:00] Exactly. And if you don't know what you're looking for.
Pepe Toriello [00:07:03] You can know how to measure that success.
Trayce Marcelle [00:07:06] Exactly right. Yeah, exactly.
Marc Doucette [00:07:08] So how do you see, you know, companies I feel like they maybe get into a project, right? Legal gets into a project. How do you see them bringing other departments on board and getting them excited about what they're doing so that they know that it's going to impact what they're doing on a day-to-day basis?
Trayce Marcelle [00:07:23] It depends on the culture, right? I've worked in organizations that are just excited about changing, can't wait to try something new and literally tear it apart in front of you. And then they're organizations that want absolutely nothing to do with it. You want to create an environment of envy. You want to create an environment where people are talking about what you're doing and are excited about it. You have to create champions. And that means when you're doing your requirements gathering exercise, you understand what people want out of the system. You know, if you if someone says, I want a button that does X, Y, and Z and you give them a button, they're going to say, Well, what about X? Well, you said you wanted the button. Take the technology out of it. I'd like the system to be able to produce information on X, Y and Z. And then you gather that from both really important direct stakeholders and those tangentially related to the process. So you're able to manage expectations, communicate what is in phase one and what is not in phase one, because what isn't included is much more important than what is and how you're going to achieve that, both in that initial phase and what how you're going to address it in later phases. So we listen and hearing I heard you, this is what's important and this is how we're going to address it.
Pepe Toriello [00:08:38] Right. And I read a couple of articles published by Bain Company, McKinsey and Caminho, which was the other one, I think it was Boston Consulting. And they said that 70% of digital transformation projects fail because they don't have a wide action plan. They have no idea what they want to implement. And on the other side, what we've also seen is like there are some companies that they just jump straight to the technology, you know, like they already move all their you know, like there are pieces on the on that table to get the budget, to get approval from finance. But then when they approach to consulting companies and they say, okay, we want to get implemented this CLM, we already know how much are going to be for licenses and how much we need to pay for the implementation. And then in the kickoff they're like, okay, that from the implementation side, it's like, okay, tell us whether you want to implement the data gathering, right? Buyer requirements gathering. And they're like, I don't know, you tell me. I mean, we don't have been in map there. They don't have like processes. So like, how do you recommend or how do you think is the best way to approach to them? Because of course, if they have nothing in place, there's going to be maybe increase a little bit the costs because now you're going to pay a company for their consulting services so they can, you know, streamline you or your processes, so you can know exactly how you can measure the success of the implementation. Right. But when you tell them that it's going to cost them, you know, maybe it's not going to be like a substantial amount if you compare it to the implementation with the license. But how can you tell them, like you got to have a step back and analyze the situation? Because without this, maybe in the future your users are not going to use their system and adoption is going to be a mess, like how do you talk to them to take that step back.
Trayce Marcelle [00:10:37] So the reason why you come to a company like is this is all we do. We do CLM. We are not going to go out tomorrow and do an implementation. We've done this across verticals, across regions, across geographies, small and large. We give you things to react to. If you don't know, we have worked with a company like yours very close or tangentially related in many different instances. So we can say, all right, you don't know what this workflow should look like. Here's what we've seen in a similar business. We are firm believers that you don't boil the ocean. If you spend a year planning an implementation, by the time you're ready to implement, it's all wrong and it's all change, as soon as you put them on paper, it's dead. It's like trying to document.
Marc Doucette [00:11:23] And I mean, I laugh because we're in a project right now that's going to take a year to implement and we know the processes are going to change. Even their templates are going to change, they're going to evolve, they're going to hire new people. And it's sometimes it's hard to get the customer to understand what we're talking about. But yeah, I mean, it's so true.
Trayce Marcelle [00:11:43] It's what we live, right? Yeah, but here's a piece of information that I give a lot of people. And I think this is really important because it draws a parallel to what you're going to see across any other project. Your approval matrix, especially in a complicated organization, they will hit you to death in that scenario. So you're spending months trying to document an approval matrix. You know what I say, forget documenting built in ad hoc approvals because that's what they're doing today in a manual capacity. The data them will tell you if you take a retrospective view of that data and how those contracts were executed over the past six months, depending on your value or your volume, it'll tell you.
Marc Doucette [00:12:22] Simplify it, right? Make it easier for people to to as long as their processes aren't broken. Right. Use those same processes, implement those, let people see. And then, like you said, let the data tell you what is actually happening and what you really need to implement as opposed to.
Trayce Marcelle [00:12:37] Exactly. I'm a big proponent of identifying ten or 15 metadata fields. That'll give you a good view of your contracting universe, right? Directionally, where you need to make business financial strategy decisions based on a report is instead of crawling through millions over hundreds of contracts. And then you use the technology in a way that allows you to just put in the metadata, pull in your contract, execute it using, you know, the red lighting, the negotiation capabilities, approval signature repository. If everyone's using it, you're getting it in the hands of the users quickly. You're allowing them to take realize at least some value in that efficiency early on. But most importantly, you have the data to give you the direction on where you need.
Marc Doucette [00:13:21] To go to get those quick wins. You know, get people excited like we were talking about, right? Show other departments what the system is capable of, so they're on board to use it as well.
Trayce Marcelle [00:13:29] Exactly. So when they're using it, let's say you start with an NDA, which is, you know, pretty a pretty good and robust contract to start with because a lot of people are using it. It's pretty simple to automate. You start with that, and then you begin working with the regions on how to make that NDA specific to them based on that conditional logic within the system. And then and then they're like, wait a minute, I can do this and you start using it as a demo
Marc Doucette [00:13:52] Level goes on, right?
Trayce Marcelle [00:13:53] And then you have your preamble is your first clause because it's in every single contract, right? And then you just start that that clause like evolves organically over time, along with the increase in adoption and utilization of that technology. And it becomes something they're like, how did you know we can do this? And I love to hear that.
Marc Doucette [00:14:11] Yeah. So how do you how do you talk the customer or the prospect off a ledge That's like we need 10,000 different things that our CLM team should do, right? We need a clause library, we need all of these functions. But if they try to implement all of those at once, it's just not it's going to be overwhelming. And you can't do that in a single phase.
Pepe Toriello [00:14:30] Yeah, the training is going to take forever. Also.
Trayce Marcelle [00:14:32] Yes, you prioritize what are the things that keep you up at night and more importantly, what's important to the people to whom you are responsible? Where are you going to be measured and where are they going to be measured? So if you start if it's we need data on all our contracts or we need to wrangle the contracts that have the highest risk, or we're looking at contracts with this company, or we need to understand vendor qualification, how do we track that and utilize that in execution of our contracts. You could say to them, I think it's important that you start with an NDA and therefore if you don't take the language that translates to their specific culture that you would end up potentially with them saying, well, that doesn't even relate to us.
Marc Doucette [00:15:12] We try to say, Hey, pick your three favorite contracts, right? What are you doing the most volume of Let's start there, right? Let's get you through that and again, get user adoption up and then we'll do a phase two or a phase three.
Trayce Marcelle [00:15:23] Yeah, but you know what, then you have a GC that says, Well, you know what, We're going to struggle with all of those. You know, we can't train all these people. They were busy and it's quarter end, so everyone's going to have a reason why it won't work. But I find the thing that makes. The most success in my instance is something that I know about their business. I know this is a business problem that you have, you know, based on all the conversations, because you bring up a really good point. Getting the the highest volume users is really important, but someone is going to tell you why that is an important for them. And so what we do all day long is I call it whack a mole, right? You're like, wait, Oh, no, no, not that. And so we're just constantly trying to figure out the thing that resonates, and that's through those conversations. And people are sometimes struggle to have that conversation with you.
Marc Doucette [00:16:11] But I think that an implementation drives that conversation, right, because they actually have to figure that stuff out because they're on the clock now. They're paying for something. And I just think it's so important to try to have those conversations beforehand but it's tough, right? And there's other things that you have a day to day job in your organization that you're doing and trying to implement, you know, a CLM or any other piece of technology just really uncovers what is really happening at an organization.
Trayce Marcelle [00:16:38] Ideal scenario three CLM selection. Because I've always said, let's take the technology out of it. It's document a complex business process within your organization and have the the tools build a demo based specifically on that. So everyone in that demo is scoring you on those things. If you're an apples to apples comparison and you're seeing how it relates within your culture, in your business environment, using your words is relatable to the people in the room, Right?
Pepe Toriello [00:17:09] And it's also important to the other stakeholders because they know the other part of the business that may be legal is not. You know, because we've seen that a lot of the times that people that do the negotiation process, that is a commercial team. Right. And the legal just comes in when they don't know they need to check some clause or whatever, even if if it's like complying with their standard terms and conditions. But on the other side, we've also seen sometimes during the implementation process that maybe the legal team doesn't want involved with procurement because they think or sales because they think that sales, they just want to close as fast as possible, but they don't care about the risk of the contract, you know, But the thing is, like at the end when you have the system implemented, if you didn't bring that, the stakeholders there are going to be users of the system, then maybe they're they're just going to start, you know, complaining that, you know, you're giving more, more work. You know, it's my job to sell, not to give you all this information so you can build your contract. It should be you. Right. But if you bring them and you ask them questions, So what are like those pain points or bottlenecks? Like why those deals are not closing as fast as you want. Maybe you can find a way on how both departments can agree into a solution. Right? And as the long run, the adoption is going to be more efficient because they're going to be excited about that, that new software, because they know the benefits. And on the other side.
Trayce Marcelle [00:18:34] I have bad news for you. No one is going to agree.
Pepe Toriello [00:18:40] Well.
Trayce Marcelle [00:18:40] Honestly, and that's the thing. Okay. So sales, for example, legal front door.
Pepe Toriello [00:18:45] Exactly.
Trayce Marcelle [00:18:45] They're giving you the information in some way now. Right. Why not figure out a way for them to enter that into one place? That's the legal front door. Sales is taking care of legal has what they need from sales to execute. Legal then is the one who works with you to understand how to streamline their processes because they are the ones who want it. Right. And you can't make other people want it if you are trying your best to, you know, wrangle heard those cats, if you will, and you aren't able to bring everyone into an agreement which will never happen. You focus on things that will allow that group to be successful, but in the way that's most beneficial to the organization. By proposing legal front or submission, you can track the number. You have measurable criteria in which to define a business case for future growth. We're getting these contracts right. It's a metric that I don't know that a lot of organizations can track today, especially major large organizations.
Pepe Toriello [00:19:45] Right. And in our last interview with Louis Brett, I love when he was talking about like you being in a lot of, you know, projects where the CLM implant implementation weren't as successful as they thought they were. So when they have this as a background, like maybe the sales team, they hate CLM because it's not working. Like, how do you fix that? Like how can you get them excited about something that they already hate?
Trayce Marcelle [00:20:14] That's interesting because having a conversation with the client about this the other day and I've said on numerous occasions I would not have had for the past ten years that people didn't do this wrong. Contracting is hard, but you have to change the perception of CLM. Again, taking the technology out of it. If you were looking at moving from transitioning from one system to the other, because this one doesn't work. First, you have to realize that business requirements are a very important piece of understanding of success of that team. And then you have to look at the bubble of overlap of spend, because you're going to pay for licenses with the tool until you transition off of it. And you have to transition to a new tool that you have to start paying for before the other one ends. So it's about being preparedness and making small tactical changes in those operational processes while you're still in the tool that you're transitioning away from, changing the perception of contracting. Forget the tool. You're changing their perception because if you don't do that, they're going to roll their eyes and say, Well, it's just going to be another brick that doesn't work for me. So you start looking at data governance and usage and adoption and where are the gaps and where are the problems and you start just changing their perception of the way it does work and the way that it can work. And you start creating excitement about it even before you decide and negotiate on the next tool. You know where you're going, but you don't start paying for it until you know what that overlap is going to be, so you can budget for it and you have people prepared for what's coming and getting their input to help it make it more successful than the previous.
Marc Doucette [00:21:50] The pre-implementation, right. You really need to plan that. And there are more organizations out there that are doing this now. You know, there's a couple out there that are doing a great job in our space, and I think it's just so important for companies to really focus on that and try to slow down before you speed up.
Trayce Marcelle [00:22:07] Gotta walk. What is it? Crawl, walk, run. I mean, I obviously walk a lot.
Marc Doucette [00:22:17] Trayce this has been an awesome conversation. Thank you so much for joining us, and I hope you have a blast in Vegas.
Trayce Marcelle [00:22:22] Thanks so much.
Marc Doucette [00:22:23] All right. Thanks, everybody, for listening to another episode of Contract Heroes.