The end of any year is traditionally a time for reflection. We do it in our personal lives, as we take stock of the preceding 12 months; of our own wins and losses. The media tends to focus on reflection at this time, too, running down the best movies, songs, and television programmes; the most memorable events, and most shocking moments. This year, perhaps more than any other, it is easy to guess what will feature on those prestigious ‘listicles’ and TV specials, but there is another, vital subject of reflection that is both harder to predict, and much more useful – that is, your Contract Management year.
To reflect upon your Contract Management for 2020 is to conduct a performance appraisal – much as you periodically do for your staff. The questions are largely the same. Has the Contract Management System been operating with optimal efficiency? Has it enhanced productivity within the business, and has it been productive in and of itself? Conversely, are there any identifiable issues that prevent the Contract Management System from exceeding expectations? Most importantly of all, what contribution has the Contract Management System made to the overall progress of the business during the course of the year?
As avenues of inquiry, each of these questions presents an opportunity to make the next year more commercially successful than the last. This is because your contracts are the lifeblood of your enterprise. When they are properly managed, with continual monitoring of efficiency and productivity levels, your contracts can be the driving force in making your business a leaner, stronger, more agile entity. Without such careful oversight, the same system can slow your business down with the weight of needless clauses and agreements.
How is your Contract Management System performing?
Agility and leanness in business operations is key in the economy of today; an economy that continues to be buffeted by the uncertainty of global financial markets as international efforts to end the Coronavirus pandemic play out. It is the businesses that are best able to adapt quickly to swift changes in circumstance that have the best chance of withstanding this onslaught. It is the businesses that ride the waves of lockdowns and travel restrictions that are most likely to survive. This adaptability hinges on Contract Management Systems that are configurable in themselves, and that boast enough powerful features to ensure that your business can fully harness its own data, and make it a source of measurable productivity.
So, how is this achieved? How do you find out how your Contract Management System is currently performing, and how it has been performing for the past 12 months? A fully configurable Contract Management Software system will use processes characterised by a high degree of automation to deliver the necessary data – from the overall operation of the system, to the most granular level of information. This reporting function is the most powerful tool when it comes to conducting a Contract Management System performance review.
- Contract Dates and timelines – By analysing the contract dates and timelines of all agreements in your Contract Management System, you can assess the number of deadlines that have been missed. Missed deadlines mean missed opportunities to renegotiate, and this is a clear indicator of inefficiency.
- Project dates and timelines – An overview of project dates and timelines will provide the big picture; the overall trends that are apparent in your business. An efficient Contract Management System should be contributing to quicker project delivery, so a picture that indicates this trend of reduction indicates a likelihood of increased productivity in the business.
- Sales leads from existing contracts – Analysing the relationships between contracts, and also the contractual involvement for your Intellectual Property, can reveal the percentage of your existing agreements that are generating new sales leads. In an efficient, productive Contract Management System, this percentage should be in line with your corporate goals for sustainable expansion.
- Individual contract performance – Examining a data set that provides a detailed picture of the content of your Contract Management System delivers the most granular information. This reveals the number of non-productive, obsolete, or expired contracts that are still stored within your Contract Management System. A system that contains a large amount of ‘dead wood’ is inefficient and unwieldy. This unnecessary documentation uses valuable resources, in terms of digital storage space and staff time and skills.
Learning lessons from actionable data
Having used customisable reporting to conduct a performance review of your Contract Management System, you gain two important things: Lessons in the improvement that is needed, and actionable data to apply those lessons. Combined, these two things can launch your business into the new year with renewed vigour, increased focus, and a healthier bottom line.
- Lessons in improvement
Your Contract Management System performance review will provide all the lessons you need to begin making improvements. This means that it will highlight those areas of your business that are most in need of adjustment. Since your contracts intersect with every part of your operation, they can act as a gauge of business-wide efficiency. You may learn that one department is connected to the highest number of obsolete documents, or that one department is responsible for the widest range of Intellectual Property. You may learn that particular staff struggle with elements of your Contract Management System, and this might be evidenced by specific bottlenecks in the workflow. Most importantly, you may learn that the configration of your system has not been updated to reflect new challenges, and this may have led to inefficiencies in overall management of agreements.
- Actionable data
Learning lessons is all well and good, but they are meaningless unless they lead to action. Gaining actionable data from your Contract Management System performance review means that issues can be rectified, efficiency increased, and productivity boosted as a result. Customisable reporting can tell you specifically which members of staff are struggling with elements of your system, and indicate what training support they need. It can indicate which members of staff are responsible for the most Intellectual Property and it can further highlight next steps that are available for the use of that Intellectual Property. It can even show you which particular parts of your system require updating, and what kind of reconfiguration would be most effective.
Taking the opportunity to reflect upon your Contract Management year, and conduct a performance review of your system enables you to learn valuable lessons about your operation on the most granular level, and provides detailed, actionable data for measurable, targeted steps toward greater productivity. That being the case, choosing to call Symfact would be an ideal New Year’s resolution.