You may already know about some of the issues that companies and very much public and third sector bodies can face when it comes to contracts, on both the buy and sell side. The new term for getting a more efficient way of handling this vital business workflow process is ‘contract management’ – which we want to drill further down into.
More specifically, we want to talk about the work we’ve done to try and help customers. Contract management is an area, in fact, that we’ve been working very heavily on, particularly in Central Europe and in Germany, where they have some specific regulatory compliance issues that we’ve been helping folks tackle.
We’ve built on that work and now have a specific contract management solution you can investigate if you want. It’s a special configuration of our core workflow solution because we see contract management as at heart a workflow application.
It is also a business solution that you can pull off the shelf as it has a lot of pre-configuration there for you, lots of functionality. So it’s going to deal with the revenue side, it will help with holding and better organising the contract content, it will deal with the renewables, issue reminders: it will even help you with contract creation, by giving you good library of contractual terms, if you have standard contractual terms.
It’s called EASY Contract and we think it is a good solution for this problem precisely because we’ve used this workflow idea and designed it to look a lot like e-mail. That means any professional procurement team member or back office person or even salesperson dealing will find it all very familiar territory.
The interface is also very straightforward and as it is web-based, it doesn’t matter whether you are working from home or from an office, you always see the one interface. Through that, you can load any of your electronic contracts and pre-populate fields. Some people say it feels a bit like a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system and we can see that, plus there is also some ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) functionality, too.
What really matters is the way the system is integrated so as to keep you on top of things time-wise. Thus contract dates, in terms of both inception and milestones, can all be populated in fields; and they can be active fields that remind you that these things are coming up. So EASY Contract starts to be a contract management ‘robot,’ if you will, allowing your team to spend their time doing more value-add things like some sharp negotiations on terms!
Plus, we’ve loaded in some strong reporting features and capabilities. For example, we at EASY Software are a software company, so we rely on maintenance revenue. We use contract management to show us where our maintenance revenue is derived from, so we can run reports from this to show where our revenue is coming from, when it is coming in, most importantly, if it drops off the end, e.g. if somebody doesn’t renew, then we can notify the relationship manager for that contract that and a useful alert gets popped up to say ‘Let’s focus on that account’ so we can try and recover that revenue.
One version of the contract ‘truth’
Perhaps the most important aspect of all, though: you have got ‘one version of the truth’, which everyone can see. So if you get a supplier phone to try and change terms, you have got the information instantly at your fingertips. The next most powerful thing is having the visibility of the value of these things as well; anybody, whether a senior manager or a coal-face user, has got access to that information (as appropriate for their role, of course) so they can immediately answer a question on a phone call or on a face-to-face meeting (it is of course mobile-enabled).
On the latter point, think about how great this is for your sales guy. Isn’t it going to be a lot easier for them if they have all of your information every time you talked to a customer, which is going to make it so much easier to close things? Think about being told automatically when things are coming up for renewal so you can close more business, too.
For the procurement side of the desk, the purchasing professional: you sometimes have difficult conversations with customers and/or suppliers. It would be much better to come armed to those difficult conversations with the data in front of you that can details where is cash being spent, how much are we spending with you and do we need to have a conversation around delivery? Now, you can support a difficult conversation – as well as have a lot more power to help you with things like cash management and, ultimately, profitability.
Meanwhile, you can use this tool to better manage the performance of your supplier in their delivery of their service or goods to you. We are in fact talking to a lot of retailers at the moment about contract management for this very reason, actually: they want to be able to say here are our good suppliers and here are the ones that sometimes let us down – a vital tool in opening up a dialogue with such suppliers to see if the situation can be either resolved or a better solution found.
I think this is all very exciting stuff, showing the true power of ECM being applied to a real business problem we probably all should have looked at a long time back, to be frank.
What do you think? Can contract management help you? Come and talk to us to see how – we’d love to debate the issues with you!