Pure Performance in the
Data Jungle

Thanks to EASY Contract

Cable network provider LIWEST always keeps a
clear overview of its contract management

LIWEST Kabelmedien GmbH is a joint venture of energy supplier Linz AG, management service Linz GmbH, and eww ag. 135,794 customers use the operator‘s high speed network. Its market share is 95 percent in Upper Austria, and it is the country’s second largest cable network provider. The name LIWEST is a combination of the names of the three largest cities in central Austria: Linz, Wels, and Steyr. The provider‘s coverage area stretches over 60 cities and communities in the centre of Upper Austria, part of the Salzkammergut region, and western Lower Austria. LIWEST has invested around 130 million euros in network expansion over the last few years.

 

Cable network provider LIWEST supplies private households and companies in Upper Austria and western Lower Austria with TV, telephone land lines, and fast internet service with speeds up to 250 Mbit. The company achieves top marks for its streaming speeds in the Austrian ISP Speed Index from worldwide video-on-demand provider Netflix.

We call that pure performance. One example of performance at LIWEST is its legal field office, with the largest cable provider in the country trusting in contract management solution EASY Contract. A cable network operator like LIWEST has to enter into a huge variety of contracts to be able to provide the services it does. It has countless agreements, for instance, with the TV and radio broadcasters who distribute their programs through the LIWEST cable network. There are also service agreements with companies, such as the firms who maintain their equipment. Or – an especially important factor when we consider the ongoing expansion of the cable network – agreements with public and private property owners of land where LIWEST needs to run network cables. The legal department at LIWEST has to manage all of these contracts. As if that weren’t enough, the legal department also deals with regularly generated market analyses. And, of course, there are other contracts important for the company‘s work, even if they don’t store or edit them personally. For example, to do its daily business, the cable provider relies on information from 135,794 customer agreements with the households its serves.

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“However, it was important for me to add an electronic file side by side with the paper one, as well as electronic contract management – sort of a double book keeping system to make our work more efficient and faster”

Mag. Monika Kainz, MBA
Head of the legal department, data protection and information security

Further project information

When Monika Kainz took over her position as head of the legal department at LIWEST over two years ago, she decided that making the division more efficient and forward-thinking would be one of her main focuses. In this vein, she worked with her team to develop a new system for file storage, then got started right away looking for a powerful solution for document management. “Up to that point, we’d managed files exclusively in physical form”, says Kainz, “with filing systems and everything that goes along with them. However, it was important for me to add an electronic file side by side with the paper one, as well as electronic contract management – sort of a double bookkeeping system to make our work more efficient and faster”.

In particular, the promise of more transparency provided important motivation for the project. Transparency about deadlines and the current status of contractual negotiations, for instance, were key issues. “For us, always keeping an overview is indispensable”, explains Kainz. “When are which contracts expiring; which contracts will be automatically extended, and when; when do termination periods end, and whether we need to re-negotiate conditions are all important pieces of data. We used to keep lists by hand on all of these points. Each new contract we concluded, and each extension, meant extra work for the team”. When you add it all up, maintaining these lists by hand took up a large number of man hours. In addition, they led to a high susceptibility to error – which could also grow, depending on current workloads, absences, or priorities.

Looking for a solution to help resolve this situation did take some time. The company researched providers and programs for about six months. Initially, they restricted their search primarily to specialised solutions, for instance programmes designed for attorneys – however, they quickly found out that most solutions on the market weren’t capable of mapping the filing system used for paper files without extensive customising. In fact, this ended up being one of the company‘s key criteria in making their choice: “We didn’t want to have to re-invent the wheel with an expensive specialised solution. We had a freshly introduced filing system with a file structure that was tailored to our processes and worked well in everyday practice. We were looking for a solution that could exactly and digitally map this structure”, says Kainz.

However, Kainz already had enough experience with document management systems from previous positions in other companies to know: Customisation is always hard work, and hard work means higher implementation costs. She was also aware that the more the chosen solution focused on standards, the more sustainable and forwardthinking the investment would be – simply because the system is subject to regular updates without any work by LIWEST at all, and is continuously improved through feedback from a large number of users.

Ultimately, EASY Contract was in the running against one other candidate, but EASY took home the gold. “EASY Contract offered me exactly what I wanted. It is a standardised solution that is continuously updated, without requiring my input as a user. At the same time, EASY Contract proved significantly better able to map our filing structure in direct comparison with its best competitors through presentations and tests”.

EASY‘s offer was approved in early fall of 2015. After that, the process moved quickly: Besides Kainz, two other employees from the legal department took part in preparatory meetings, along with a colleague from IT and an EASY consultant. This committee then settled on a file structure and authorisation management concept – the legal department would be able to view all agreements, and other divisions could only view agreements for which they were responsible – then made all the other preparations necessary to introduce the software. After just about two weeks, in September, EASY Contract was installed and running perfectly. “We left ourselves a little time to get used to the solution, then started immediately with the project of recording all of our files and contracts at a scan work station and transferring them into the system”, says Kainz. The process is still ongoing today. With as many existing files as the company has, digitisation does take time.

But even now, it‘s clear to the team that their workload has been reduced. “We need almost no manual lists nowadays. EASY Contract handles deadline management for us – that’s a major relief. We can even tell the difference during contractual negotiations, since we are able to version all contract revisions using the system. After we finish discussions, and once we sign the agreement, the system requires that we scan in the original document with signatures and enter and double check all deadlines before we can set the contract to ‘valid’”.

In addition, the division is much more prepared for the future, as one typical example from the network operator‘s business makes clear. Just like every other network operator, LIWEST has a construction department tasked with continuously working on the network. Most work days, the company gets a call from a construction management company to find out whether there is a service agreement for a particular property, or what exactly the service agreement states. “Before, we had to go dig up the document to answer questions like these, then identify the right passages in the document itself”, says Kainz.

“Today, all we have to do is perform a full-text search, and EASY Contract shows us the agreement and the text passages we‘re looking for. Thanks to EASY, we can answer inquiries like these in just a short time and over the phone”. Recently, the company was able to use the solution to introduce an interface through which all required information on the 126,000 customer agreements can be extracted from its secondary software programme.

Throughout the process, working with EASY Contract proved so self-explanatory that almost no introduction was required. “My colleague was on maternity leave while the system was installed”, Kainz remembers. “After she came back to work, she was able to work with the solution in just a short time, and without lengthy explanations”. She concludes: “I‘m very satisfied, and I would pick EASY again. The software is clear and user-friendly, and customer support from EASY was and is still very good”.

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