Contract Searches made easy – also at the University Graz
The Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, the second oldest and second largest university in Austria, is an institution with a long tradition and a comprehensive educational programme. The university brings together more than 100 fields of study in six schools. Its offerings range from theology to economics, and from languages to the natural sciences. Information islands are a thing of the past at Karl-Franzens Universität. They achieved this goal by introducing an electronic contract file solution by EASY SOFTWARE.
Die Karl-Franzens Universität Graz hat Überblick über heterogenes Vertragswerk
It would be possible to implement contract management using just SAP NetWeaver Folders Management alone. However, EASY nextPCM offers much greater functionality and usability.”
Dr. Wolfgang Wassermann, IT-field office, University Graz
Karl-Franzens Universität Graz has 31,500 students, and 4,300 employees, making it one of Austria’s largest universities. The contracts the university concludes with business partners are, as you might expect, equally heterogeneous. Just as at many other universities, the various organisational units at Graz, like schools and administrative areas, operate fairly autonomously. In the past, each department initiated and administered its own contractual business relationships in its own way. There has never before been a centralised method for contract management with automatic deadline monitoring and structured filing at the institution.
At the end of 2011, Karl-Franzens Universität Graz decided to purchase an IT supported solution for centralised contract administration. y purchasing the electronic contract file solution, the Karl-Franzens-University was able to optimize its contract management. Since then, all original contracts have been continuously registered by the central registry and electronically administered by means of a system. By means of documented access authorization (currently more than 60 contract users), the contracts can be made available to the relevant departments in a timely and transparent manner and missed deadlines can be avoided. “Our goal was to do away with the informational islands that existed,” said Dr. Wolfgang Wassermann, who was responsible for the contract management project in the IT field office at the Universität Graz. “We wanted to standardise contract creation and maintenance using pre-determined, automatic mechanisms. Our goal was that every contract should go to the Registrar after an internal review, which is the only office that can activate them.”
“Customised” contract types and “Termination wake-up call”
Because the university has been using SAP for many years, the contract administration solution needs to be integrated into SAP. Doing so is the easiest way to link cost centres, authorisations, suppliers, and other information from SAP master data to the newly created contracts. According to Dr. Wassermann, the university could have implemented contract management using just SAP NetWeaver Folders Management alone, but a specialised system like EASY nextPCM Contract Management offers much greater functionality and usability.
The university chose the EASY SOFTWARE AG solution at the end of 2011 due to its broad scope of functions, deep integration capabilities into the university’s IT landscape, and outstanding compromise between price and performance. Key functions of EASY nextPCM Contract Management include, for instance, the “customised” contract types which can be set up within the file solution. Other demands the project team faced in setting up electronic contract files:
They needed to remind users of upcoming deadlines like terminations via e-mail, as well as enter these into the user’s personal calendar. The contract management can also – another original requirement – capture contract metadata from e-mails and Office (Excel, Word) templates and read out their reference numbers from bar codes.
2,500 recorded contracts
After selecting a product in 2011, the company engaged in a four-month conceptualisation, development, and testing phase before starting operations with the contract file in mid-April, 2012. Dr. Wolfgang Wassermann adds: “The steps between product selection and go live went according to plan. The experts at EASY SOFTWARE AG know their craft well, and have a solution-oriented way of handling questions. We were also able to take into account the expert knowledge they had gained in completing contract file projects for other customers when making our decisions, which was very helpful.
Since the system’s operational launch, a core team within the project group has been working with the electronic file. To use the file, SAP users log into SAP and work in the SAP NetWeaver Folders Management Screen, to which the contract management application has been added. The initial phase, before implementation, focused on general stocktaking: Determining the types of contracts used at the university, parameters for entries, and the number of open contracts. As part of the contract capturing process, contracts are categorised under a particular contract type. They are assigned attributes and entered into the contract file, and the original agreements, which have been given a reference number by the central Registrar, are digitised. More than 2,500 contracts have been captured as of today; the scanned paper originals have been saved in the connected open text archive, where they are now visible for key users through EASY nextPCM Contract Management.
Structured storage for all types of information
Organisational and administrative units at the Universität Graz have the opportunity to link to EASY nextPCM Contract Management in order to quickly and efficiently receive access to their own contracts.
All types of information related to the contracts are stored in the digital contract file: scanned paper documents, e-mails, Office files, other digital formats (PDF, TIFF, CAD, …) and data linked from various SAP modules. Users receive access to the system through their native SAP client. EASY nextPCM Contract Management consists of four central functional areas: The contract data block structures all the data on each contract, providing a quick, simple, and clear overview. The contract file contains all relevant e-mails, Office documents, and paper scans, organised and in the right location. All contracts can be processed together and in accordance with set rules using the process management structure. Both customised and standardised reports provide information on all the key points of the contracts, including deadlines, volumes, and processing statuses.
EASY SOFTWARE provides a typical set of contract types in the standard version, including service provider, purchasing, cooperation, licensing, and framework agreements. This set was adjusted to the individual needs of the university. Currently, the Karl-Franzens-University system includes 32 contract categories. To capture a new agreement, the user must click the correct icon in EASY nextPCM Contract Management, then select the contract type from a drop down list, which will take them directly to the input screen. Depending on the contract type, there are more than 100 fields and functions available for capturing contract data and documents. Users can also search for specific contracts with a large number of selection parameters through another icon, then jump to the individual documents in the results list. Another icon offers overviews in the form of reports, such as reports on all contracts due for termination, all personal resubmissions, and much more.
Contract file as networking tool
The Universität Graz is using the digital contract file to restructure its internal contract processes. Although these were previously decentralised, they will now be designed on a process-oriented basis. This means that all original contracts – from contract conceptualisation in organisational / administrative units, to professional review in the legal and organisational department, and finally completion and signing – are transferred to the central Registrar, which changes their status from draft to “active”. With EASY nextPCM Contract Management, the university can now specifically bring together information from all of the individual units. Regular contract user meetings and system training in small groups for new VM users contribute to a very good process flow, further development and quality improvement.