Whether you are about to begin the process of migrating your manually operated business contract collection to a digital Contract Management System, or whether you want to make your digital Contract Management System more productive, software configuration is the key to unlocking the power of your most vital documentation. The very best Contract Management Software packages are those that provide a high degree of configuration, precisely because this feature has the most potential to improve your bottom line – but only if you understand how to make the most of it.
In the best-case scenario, effective configuration should begin prior to the installation of Contract Management Software, with the digital solution being deployed with the unique needs of the business already clearly defined, and fully embedded. However, the best software packages also allow for configuration to be amended and expanded over time, in response to your commercial evolution, so it is never too late to increase the efficiency and productivity generated by your Contract Library.
In the broadest of terms, you should begin your configuration process by asking the following two questions - because they encompass everything required:
- What is your business?
- What do you need to know?
Defining your business
This is your starting point. By clearly defining your business, you set out the parameters of the configuration needed. It is not simply the case that your business is defined by its industry, product, or service, however. The nature of your enterprise is more than ‘manufacturer,’ ‘retail outlet,’ or ‘insurance provider,’ for example. In answering the question of what your business is, you must dig into the finer detail of its structure and context; how it operates, and where it fits in relation to the wider business landscape. Taking these points into consideration will help you identify and factor in the following information:
- The size of your workforce, and number of departments you have;
- The position of your business in the supply chain;
- The level of outsourcing in your business, and its specifics;
- The territories in which your business operates, and the associated regulations;
- Your marketing strategies;
- Your Human Resources strategies, including professional development schemes;
- The industry regulating authorities that apply to your operation, and their requirements;
- The corporate governance of your business, including its legal entity, policies, and procedures;
- The technology used by your business - from the completion of administrative tasks to manufacturing and service provision;
- The premises used by your business - from warehousing to office space;
- The logistics set-up of your business, including transportation and fleet management.
These are all examples of the finer detail that defines your business, and they generate a lot of information in themselves. Taking these aspects into consideration, though, provides you with better understanding of what you need from software configuration.
Defining what you need to know
In relation to the configuration of Contract Management Software, there are two elements in asking the question, ‘What do you need to know?’ First of these is in the contracts themselves, because they can be a goldmine of revenue increasing opportunities if they are brought under tighter control and made more efficient.
- What do you need to know from your contracts – both existing and in progress?
- Terms, conditions, and compliance – These help you to determine whether the contracts are providing value for money, as well as providing the basis for efficiency-increasing standardization of language and clauses across your departments. This, in turn, allows for the establishment of a standardized library of editable templates, giving your workforce access to the most up to date versions of legal language and clauses.
- Termination criteria and expiration dates - These allow you to end obsolete agreements, and seize the chance to renegotiate those that remain useful.
- Opportunities for further sales – Existing contracts often present additional sales opportunities, resulting from particular clauses.
The second element lies in the provision of actionable data through configured reporting. When you have fully configured your Contract Management Software, it generates the information you need to improve your bottom line with a high degree of accuracy. That being the case, you must first determine what is needed in your business to increase profit, before then further defining what data is needed to achieve that increase. This process of drilling down through layers of information is essential to making the most of the Contract Management Software configuration features.
As an example, a company may review its finances and determine that its supply chain is becoming unwieldy. In that situation, data revealing the cost-effectiveness of each part of the supply chain becomes invaluable. Likewise, a business may review its operation and determine that its Intellectual Property is out of date or is a largely untapped resource, in which case, data allowing an Intellectual Property audit can reveal new revenue streams.
In each of these examples, an initial enquiry – about the status of the supply chain, or the availability of Intellectual Property – identifies an area for improvement, and further detailed analysis leads to potential increases in profitability. Configured reporting is the tool that is used in both these examples, to answer both levels of enquiry. This is the configuration feature that allows you to generate actionable data that is entirely focused on specific areas of your business, and it achieves this with a high degree of automation. That means that such detailed commercial scrutiny can be applied without the deployment of extra resources, in terms of personnel time and skill.
What is clear is that this process of determining the most appropriate use of configuration in Contract Management Software, as it applies to your business, is itself a part of the process of configuration. The configuration criteria you need is revealed with each layer of information you drill through. The commercial realities eventually uncovered by asking the seemingly simple questions, ‘What is your business, and what do you need to know?’ are the tools you use to drill further; to refine your knowledge and understanding of the business areas that need improvement and, most importantly, the specific potential that they have for increasing profits.
It is essential to note, then, that the set-up, installation, and phased roll-out of configured Contract Management Software is not wasted time, and nor is it time spent in anticipation of future results. The nature of the configuration process, and the questions you ask along the way, means that every step is itself productive. The process has value in commercial terms because it creates specific and actionable data refinement throughout. Every decision made during the configuration process is a decision that can contribute directly to increases in revenue.
The overall purpose of using Contract Management Software configuration features is undoubtedly to achieve the goals you have set out for your business. Ultimately, commercial success is measured by profitability, but this end goal is only attainable by meeting smaller challenges first. You cannot reach the destination of ‘increased profits’ without first knowing how to get there. Comprehensive and effective configuration of Contract Management Software is your route planner.
However, unlike travel itineraries, your journey to increased profitability is made easier by planning and taking multiple routes at the same time. By using customised reporting specifically to conduct audits of documentation, business areas, and departments, you can use the accurate, actionable data generated to make advancements on your end goal with a simultaneous and multi-disciplinary approach. This includes:
- Outsourcing agreements
- Tenancy agreements
- Employment contracts
- Intellectual Property Management
- Policy Management
- Risk Management
- Regulatory compliance
- Contract Lifecycle Management
By taking greater control of all of these areas, efficiency is increased which, in turn, leads to higher productivity, and a boosted bottom line.
Configurable Contract Management Software from Symfact
Symfact is among the most configurable of all Contract Management Software packages available today. As a browser-based platform, it combines configuration with encrypted data transfer and permission-based access to create a powerful Contract Management tool. With this level of configuration, every part of your operational data can be comprehensively analyzed. Furthermore, with approval workflows that are automated, decision pathways resulting from that data analysis are clearly defined, too. In that respect, the transparency afforded by the browser-based access provides improved compliance and easier monitoring of project performance.
The facility for notifications and event milestones is also entirely configurable, which means that you can regain control of your contract lifecycles. This configurability extends to encompass the entire package, ensuring the platform can grow with your business over time, meeting data needs that are constantly changing. This is made even more effective by the fact that it can integrate with your existing systems, to deliver a fully cross-platform solution.
Without doubt, effective and comprehensive configuration is the key to unlocking the power of your business contract collection, providing you with a clear route to increased profitability. Contact Symfact today to book your Contract Management Software demonstration.