Linking Contract and Matter Management for Effective Legal Oversight



At Hyster-Yale Group, our goal isn’t just to build the best lift trucks possible, but to create solutions that enable our customers to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of their businesses. Product development is informed, on-going and proactive. Our wide global presence, among the largest of all material handling manufacturers, enables Hyster-Yale to commit the resources necessary to ensure our lift trucks are some of the most innovative in the industry.

Through our global reach, in-depth business analysis and industry experience, Hyster-Yale Group provides unparalleled product support to our dealers, customers and suppliers. It all translates to higher productivity and lower cost of ownership for our customers.

Business Challenge

Hyster-Yale Group’s Legal Department had a geographically distributed process to create, assemble and manage global contracts. A legacy system was used to manage a collection of manually administered contract templates. This collection of templates encompassed a range of contract types including purchasing, sales, non-disclosure, distribution, licensing, intellectual property, and an assortment of other agreements.

In addition to the sheer volume of contracts created and managed, the Legal Department, like many global organizations, had to manage an equally large number of Legal Matters. With the continued growth in the organization, the workload management needed to be re-engineered to operate more efficiently and provide better global access to templates, contracts, and matters.

To address the growth and management, the Legal Department defined a new operating paradigm. This resulted in an extensive procurement initiative to find a vendor that was willing and able to craft the delivered solution to be an HYG solution and not an out-of-the-box solution that was built for a generic contract management installation. After an extensive review of the global marketplace, Symfact was chosen as the vendor to help HYG achieve their goals.

Solution Overview

The main goal was to deliver integrated Contract and Matter management functionality to create business contracts and associated legal documents with a strict set of management controls. This necessitated the configuration of a very unique HYG Contract Record that would house all the key meta-data, documents, files, and email communications that accompany the contract through its lifecycle.

The need to provide a portal in which geographically diverse users could request a contract was the beginning point of the new process. Due to the complexity of their business and the need to simplify the ‘request process,’ HYG needed the tool to collect and aggregate the key information about the contractual relationship and to use that information to populate blanks in a prewritten template. The Symfact system provides the requestor with contract type specific screen layouts to focus the data entry on the data fields needed for the various types of contracts. This ensured that users were only required to enter information that was relevant to the type of contract at hand. So, a NDA contract request screen would be noticeably different from a request screen for a more complex contract. The ability of the system to prompt for data input needs according to the contract type greatly increased the User buy-in.

For contract negotiation, HYG needed the system to provide a strong authoring tool that allowed users to leverage their knowledge of Microsoft Word, and also have a complete history of changes by all parties through the process. The ability to work on the contract in MS Word via a Check-Out/Check-In process was an absolute requirement by HYG. In addition, HYG also required the tool to allow a user the ability to search and insert text from the Clause Library, the Template Library, or from any document stored in the repository directly from Word. This was an anticipated efficiency improvement and would make users more effective. The ability to Check-In the versions as they were authored allowed for control over where and how the versions were captured along with a secure audit trail.

In addition to the contract meta-data and T’s & C’s, HYG also needed to store and manage a series of artifacts related to the contractual relationship and/or the matter. This would include items such as email communications, logo’s and other trademark images, certificates of insurance, patent information, etc. These would be housed in user created document folders in the Contract Record, along with email stored in their original Microsoft Outlook format.

As the contract worked its way through the assembly and authoring process there was the obvious need to formalize and electronically deliver a robust workflow process. Using Symfact’s business-rule driven workflow engine, the contracts were efficiently routed to only those who needed to contribute to the review and approval process.

Overarching the request, assembly, negotiation, and approval process the system needed to manage security and access rights. Many of the Contract Records had some degree of confidential information. Legal needed to control who could see what data. With Symfact’s ability to assign security down to the data attribute level, the system was easily able to handle HYG’s complex control needs.

Finally, HYG needed the ability to manage a large portfolio of Legal Matters and link these, where appropriate, to one or more contracts in the repository. Working closely with HYG’s Legal department, a design was created for a ‘Matter Record’ that would include the key attributes of the Matter, along with owners and affected parties, documentation, and appropriate notifications and alerts. Symfact delivered the tools and tracking mechanisms for the Legal department to effectively manage these active Matters and visually see the relationships of sub-Matters and existing contracts.

Solution Highlights

  • Centralized control and decentralized access to the global Template Library that is instantly updated whenever a new version was released
  • User-focused Contract Request process to gather the right information, including the selection of the template, and route the Request for review
  • Formalized contract negotiations, both internal and external, and retention of the version history for audit purposes
  • Management of documents and communications relating to the contractual relationship pre- and post-execution
  • Ability to create and manage Legal Matters and link these to the contract(s) when required, with a “Family” view that shows all related contracts and matters
  • Automated task and workflow assignments, pre- and post-execution
  • Single repository for all Contracts and Matters
  • Appropriate levels of control over access rights to records, data, and documents
  • Full audit control over all activities performed by users and the records that they accessed

Solution Benefits

  • Robust control over contract template management by the template owner
  • Improved reporting capabilities regarding contracts in various stages of completion
  • A single electronic repository for Legal Department matters and contract records
  • Ability to associate electronic records for related matters and contracts
  • Ability to share work across different geographic locations
  • Access to system data from any company location, replacing siloed work product stored on location-specific computer drives
  • Ability to associate multiple related contracts within a single matter
  • The convenience of saving emails and related PDFs and Excel files in the same data folder with the associated contract or matter
  • Ease of setting future email notifications for contract expiration or any other purpose
  • Ability to run reports and audits on multiple metadata fields, including Business Partner, brand, geographic location, and contract type