In the second blog of this six-part series, I’ll discuss the first of five key tips to help you achieve quick wins in contract management—solve contract access & visibility first.
One issue that stands in the way of quick wins is that many people confuse a business process problem or an internal policies problem with a technology problem. Figuring out who can approve what and what your standard terms are, that’s a process problem, not a technology problem.
Another hurdle to quick wins is not getting the order of operation right. This is essential for people looking to drive rapid value. If organizations focus on the wrong contract management challenges or focus on the challenges in the wrong order, it can delay you by six or nine months , or even longer—draining momentum.
What we’ve found is companies should, first, focus on the “basics”. Getting everything in one place and organized, allowing anyone to find the right contract in seconds, drives a lot of value and has broad impact across an organization. While it may sound simple, this step is easy to overlook with all the overly complex solutions in the market.
Think about the number of company employees who need to find a contract on any given day. If you’re on the legal team, you can probably check your inbox and quickly see how many people that is. By getting everything in one place, you can rapidly improve everyone’s day-to-day lives, drive tangible value and start to get buy-in towards your future contract management roadmaps.
Key Tip #1: Solve Contract Access & Visibility First
Contract access and visibility: a simple thing that’s much harder than people realize. So, before we jump into contract access, visibility, and key ingredients, it’s important to define success. It’s also critical to describe misunderstandings about it. Many people think solving the contract access and visibility problem should start with new contracts only. The reality is that you’ve got all these contracts that you’re running your business off of today. But all to often, existing contracts are viewed as an afterthought or “one-time-only” project to solve. They’re something called “legacy,” right?
Calling your active contracts “legacy” and downplaying the “legacy loading” is one of the biggest mistakes many contract management technologies make!
You will run your business on the contracts you have today for the next several years. They’re an integral part of your business operations, and cleaning them up is essential to how you’ll drive value. So, they’re not an afterthought; success is not just taking a big pile of PDFs, scraping data, and dumping them into a repository. As one of our customers explained, “our repository is where contracts went to die”. It’s usually disorganized, and in many cases, companies go backwards after initially deploying a contract repository—making it even harder to find or search the right contract.
So what do you need to really solve the contract access and visibility problem?
7 key ingredients to finally solve it once and for all:
- All Contracts in One Place – you need everything in one place. Contracts spread across multiple shared drives, document repositories, even CRM cause problems.
- Highly Accurate, Up-to-date Data (Including Amendments) – the easiest way to stop adoption is to have inaccurate data in the system. You want a single source of truth.
- Easily Searchable by Keywords – You should be able to quickly search through every contract and filter results by contract status, counterparty, effective date, and more.
- Self-service Access to Non-Contract Experts – Just because you’re the legal expert and know everything about contracts doesn’t mean the salesperson does. Non-experts need to get what they need and nothing more.
- Organized by Counterparty & Contract Families – There can be numerous counterparty and document families, and you need to understand the relationships. For example, here’s a master agreement; how do all the amendments relate, and to which master?
- Key Terms and Dates Extracted – Ensure everyone operates from one standard view of the current terms—including key obligations, commitments, and dates.
- Flexible Reporting and Alerts – You want an intuitive platform with accurate reporting and robust analytics. And automated alerts in advance of events like upcoming renewals or expirations.
These are the key ingredients to access and visibility and comprehensively solving this problem is essential for your organization. The simple objective is to ensure everybody in your business, whether they’re a contract expert or not, can find the right contract and information from contracts in seconds. That’s when you’ll nail this, get broad business buy-in and get the “word-of-mouth” effect across your organization.
In my next post, we’ll explore our second tip: Think Beyond Legal for the Biggest ROI, but if you’re ready to learn about all of our tips to fast value, check out this webinar, Quick Wins in Contract Management.