For most of the companies in India, contracts remain a paper-intensive, time-consuming, cost-intensive practice. These hurdles sometimes prove very costly in today’s digitalised business environment where speed and efficiency play a very important role to succeed. To stay ahead in this digital era, enterprises need to adopt effective tech solutions. SirionLabs is one of the prominent and fast-growing contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution providers. Rajeev Ranjan, Editor, Digital Terminal recently interacted with Ajay Agrawal, Co-founder and CEO, SirionLabs. He shared his views on how contract automation is changing the way we do business and why this is important for enterprises. Read below the excerpts:
Rajeev: What was the idea behind starting SirionLabs?
Ajay: I started my first company in 2006 - a legal process outsourcing company called UnitedLex Corporation. My team and I were always trying to build software applications to automate aspects of the manual work that they were doing for clients. Some of those applications were very successful, so it inspired me to start thinking about how to achieve that level of automation with contracts on a larger scale, as a product rather than a service. My time at UnitedLex also introduced me to the struggle that companies face to maintain their buyer-supplier environment. In 2012, myself and Claude Marais, the ex-global head of outsourcing at General Motors, began to brainstorm and envision SirionLabs. We founded SirionLabs – an enterprise SaaS platform for contract management software– along with our co-founders Kanti Prabha and Aditya Gupta.
Rajeev: What distinguishes SirionLabs from other CLM solution providers in India?
Ajay: One of the key differentiators of the SirionOne platform is deep AI capabilities that address some of the thornier difficulties in contract lifecycle management. Built on a foundation that combines machine learning and natural language processing and trained on a vast array of legal documents and industry data, the system yields huge time and resource savings in areas like importing and organizing legacy contracts, negotiations and contract review. SirionLabs’ approach goes well beyond standard CLM technology by providing visibility into contract performance, invoices and relationships during the post-signature phase, and leveraging those insights to inform future contracts. Unlike systems from other CLM suppliers, SirionLabs’ contract performance management generates real, documented savings. The platform ensures performance after the contract is signed matches the terms laid out in the contract. SirionLabs’ strengths here have proven to be a competitive advantage for us in the marketplace.
Rajeev: What are the pitfalls organisations could face today if they do not automate their contract management?
Ajay: The single most important pitfall of not automating contract management is that it exposes the organisation to enormous risk. The types of risk run the gamut from not adhering to internal policies to non-compliance regulations that could cost the organisation significant sums in fines or even pose an existential threat. Even worse, without a central repository for its contracts, senior executives have no visibility to the threats posed and so cannot proactively address them or plan.
From a business perspective, managing contracts manually is a time-consuming and cost-intensive practice that leads to revenue leakage, cost overruns and operational bottlenecks. For example, manual contracting has the following pitfalls:
Rajeev: How does a CLM platform help eliminate common friction points in the contracting process?
Ajay: Executives across the enterprise rely on CLM software because the data in contracts is central to their key stakeholders across the organization. For the legal department, CLM software is a crucial tool to identify and manage risk and compliance. For Procurement, it represents huge cost savings in vendor negotiations and management. For the CRO, it reduces friction and accelerates closing sales. For the office of the CFO, CLM software provides real visibility into actual revenues and expenses. For CIOs integrations into ERP and CRM systems make it a poster child for digital transformation across the company.
Rajeev: Now that the Series D funding has been secured, what is your vision and mission for the growth of SirionLabs, particularly in India?
Ajay: The $85 million Series D investment from Partners Group supports scaling SirionLabs’ operations. Key emphasis will be placed on product innovation in AI, contract performance management and user experience (UX) that will attract new customers while also better serving the SirionLabs’ current customer base. We are rapidly expanding our AI and user experience (UX) Centres of Excellence in India and expanding our footprint in Gurgaon, Pune and Bengaluru to place ourselves closer to different pools. We also expect to add 200+ employees across all functions in the next 12 months, with a specific focus on data science, engineering, design thinking and customer success.
Rajeev: What is your current sales model? Will you be working with channel partners to grow your business further?
Ajay: As a deeply customer-centric business, we have traditionally sold directly to customers. Our relationships with customers give us the insights we need to further develop SirionLabs’ platform, and now we look at them more like co-creators of our product.
While we are committed to working directly with customers, we’re also building a strong partner and alliances ecosystem comprised of Big Four consulting firms, system integrators and resellers. Our partners provide a great deal of value to customers in the form of industry and domain expertise and are also a massive force multiplier when it comes to rolling out our product across the market at scale.