September 13 by Zack Alspaugh
“Contract Management” is more than just the management of documents filled with lots of legalese, some terms and conditions and a few signatures. Sure, taken individually, each contract can be viewed as just that, a collection of the rights and obligations of each party for a specific project or timeframe. But collectively, a company’s contract portfolio provides the roadmap for a strategic vision of the enterprise.
Yet, survey after survey shows that many companies still view contract management as an administrative task, an afterthought, rather than a core component to their corporate vision.
In this three part series, we will break down the ways in which your company can convert your contracts management processes into a strategic asset.
Part 2: Work Your Way – Increase Legal Productivity by Working Smarter
Without the right solutions, contracts management can be a very complex, circuitous, and time-consuming process. Numerous stakeholders, such as sales, legal, finance, and the various departments managing obligations or deliverables, are involved throughout the organization and aligning their goals while balancing efficiency and risk is a continuous challenge. The components within the contract itself are loaded with many moving parts and ever-changing variables. In addition, there are often inter-dependencies across multiple contracts and deals requiring constant vigilance long after the deal-makers have moved on to the next transaction.
This process is often further complicated when contracts are manually managed, leading to process control deficiencies, risk management concerns and no contract performance visibility. Many companies address these weak links by addressing contracts management as an administrative task when they should be more focused on a strategic solution. Part of the issue lies in the history of automating bad processes.
Lack of actionable data? Require more data entry.
Having trouble tracking obligations or risk? Create some spreadsheets to track the information.
And each time a new process or system is introduced, more training is required, more push-back is encountered and more ways to “work around the system” are developed by staff that are already overburdened.
So, what if you could introduce more efficiency, reduce risk and add incentive to comply by allowing staff to work with the tools they’re already familiar and comfortable with? Well for starters, you can squash the myth of the 8 hour workday.
Embrace the era of smart contracts in which your contracts management solution is capable of recommending relevant, intelligent actions that make your contract management processes more effective. You can avoid bottlenecks and reduce the time required to reach contract signature through intelligent cycle time prediction based on your company’s approval process history for agreements with similar characteristics. The contract software will identify your business exposure to revenue-related risk in negotiated agreements with intelligent agreement risk identification. You can also enable your contract management solution to locate key terms and topics and compares negotiated wording with your agreement templates automatically. Layering in intelligence will additionally reduce risk exposure, streamline negotiations, and increase Legal Ops productivity with alternate word choices, clause recommendations and terms suggestions based on analysis of your legal repository.
Work within Microsoft Word
Apttus contract management enables Legal to execute an entire contract lifecycle from within Microsoft Word while enforcing document management best practices and complying with CRM data controls, allowing you and your team to manage templates, clauses and playbooks without sacrificing visibility or compliance.
In a typical contract lifecycle, pricing is done in Excel spreadsheets, clauses are written in Word, approvals done over the phone, redlining and versioning is passed between inboxes. Every time you have to leave one platform for another, you open the door for error, duplicate work and missed changes. You also force your staff to become experts in multiple technologies and processes creating a frustrating and unscalable solution.
But with Apttus X-Author for Contracts, check-in, check-out, versioning, redlining, comparison and advanced reconciliation can all be handled within Word, synced to your centrally controlled contract library, and tracked with audit trails and tag records. The result is not only shorter approval cycles, increased controls and greater contract flexibility, but also increased user adoption rates and compliance incentives. This takes contract management from simply being an administrative task to a core component of your overall business strategy. And employee morale increases when they become part of the strategic corporate vision instead of just administrative robots.
Take it One Step Further with Conversational UI
Max is artificial intelligence for the enterprise that enables users to interact with your Contract Management software via a conversational user interface, such as with text or speech. Max can orchestrate many aspects of the Contracts Management process such as assisting users to update and create winning contracts and can be accessed through established channels such as Skype, Slack, and SMS.
Simply say “Max create an NDA” and move on to your next task.
Check back next week for part 3 of the series in which I will discuss guardrails in your contract management process for sales. Accelerate deals by enabling Sales to create, manage and approve contracts that are already blessed by Legal. Did you miss part 1: Compliance with Insights – Know Where your Contracts Are? Read it here.