Every business accumulates contracts, which means that every business accumulates contract data – whether you already use Contract Management Software, or not. From the moment your business is operational, and sometimes even before that point, you are building your contract collection with legal agreements relating to premises, employment, equipment, customers, and stakeholder interests.
Each of those documents contains valuable data that can be used to drive your business forward into greater profitability, but only if they are managed in a way that maximizes opportunity and enhances efficiency. So, when reviewing and updating your current approach to Contract Management, it is essential to develop processes that will drill down into your contract collection, pinpoint value, and extract it as actionable data. This involves giving consideration to processes that will allow your business to get the most from your existing contract data.
Legacy data migration
In the language of Contract Management, your existing contract data can also be referred to as legacy data. That is, the contract data that already exists in your contract collection, because it is part of your volume of historical legal agreements. Even those agreements that have expired or been terminated hold value, because they can contribute to a bank of knowledge that informs future decision-making processes. This makes it essential that your legacy contract data is included in the Contract Management policy of your business.
In order to make good use of your existing contract data, there are two main steps to take:
- Centralise – This means finding all of your existing contract documentation – both current and historic legal agreements – and bringing them all together in one central storage location, or repository. The basic principle here is that you cannot use the data if you do not know exactly where it is, or if you have to spend time and resources trying to track it down. Most notably, over time, your business simply will not know what data it has if it is not centralized in this way.
- Organise – Once you have centralized your contract collection, the data needs to be organized using a consistent and strategic approach to metadata. By using metadata tags that reflect the data needs of your business, your contract collection becomes a searchable database of information that can be harnessed for future profitability.
The process of collecting and centralizing contract documentation is legacy data migration, and is best undertaken as part of the implementation of Contract Management Software. This type of software package – for example, Symfact – is specifically designed to transform all of your contract data into a usable, valuable resource for your business.
Using contract data
Think of your contract data as the most vital database your business has. It contains the history of every legal agreement your business has ever negotiated and signed, which means it also contains every lesson your business ever learned, in the form of searchable data. With the prudent use of data tags, you can catalogue every third party your business has connected with, and the way in which each of those relationships played out. The details of every contract dispute, and every renegotiation is contained within this data set and, consequently, this information has several important applications.
- Risk management
When all of your business contract data is centralized, organized, and tagged, you can easily use it to help mitigate risk and future-proof your operations. By filtering and analysing the data, you can identify incidents of non-compliance and historical triggering issues, thereby helping to identify potential triggers in current and future contracts. You can complete all necessary due diligence based on past interactions with specific third parties, and with their partners and competitors. You can spot language issues and make amendments as necessary.
- Market insights
Analysis of contract data can help to identify market trends in terms of consumer and third party behaviours, in the context of wider business circumstances. This information can then be applied to current and future decision-making processes.
Examining contract language across your contract collection and analysing it in the context of contract disputes and amendments allows you to implement and refine standardization in your contract policy. This further enhances risk mitigation, and also improves efficiency throughout your organization by speeding up the contracting process, increasing levels of compliance, and ensuring that all legal agreements reflect the agreed mission and values of the company.
As a business, your compliance obligations are three-fold. Firstly, you must comply with the regulations that govern your industry within your territories of operation. Secondly, you must comply with your own, internal policies and procedures. Thirdly, you must ensure compliance within your contract collection to mitigate risk and ensure high levels of customer and third party service. Your contract data can help with all these areas of compliance. Your documentation is evidence of compliance with industry and internal regulations and policies, while data analysis can identify incidents of non-compliance to allow for them to be rectified or resolved at an early stage.
- Financial opportunities
There are a multitude of unexplored financial opportunities buried within your contract data, including additional sales, new third party relationships, renegotiations, and unexploited intellectual properties. By centralizing, organizing, and comprehensively cataloguing your contract data, you can apply powerful filtration to produce actionable, profitable information for current and future use.
The Symfact solution
In order to ‘use’ your contract data, it needs to be packaged in such a way that it can be filtered and analysed. The customizable reporting facility of the Symfact Contract Management Software platform delivers precisely this functionality. Using metadata and specified data tags that have been agreed by senior leadership, the system searches your contract data at all levels of granularity, producing comprehensive reports that provide a full operational overview of your business. This information can be used in shareholder reporting and in the formation of policies and procedures. It ensures that all decision-making is based on accurate and current data. Contact Symfact today to learn more about what you can do with your existing contract data.