As technology advances and we are dazzled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) robots that can do lots of fancy things, many companies are still struggling with managing shared folders and Excel spreadsheets. Don’t get me wrong, I love fancy technology as much as the next person (probably more), but in reality, so many people and companies haven’t yet mastered the basics. And that’s ok. It’s not too late to start.
Choosing and implementing contract management takes some up-front work. I’ll be honest with you - it can be gruelling through that initial process. Finding the time around the normal workload to start a new initiative is challenging. Changing the way we think, and work is even harder.
I’ve worked with several organizations that took the time to get it done, and the downstream effects were amazing. Contract professionals were able to focus on more meaningful work where they could add true value, negotiation cycles got faster and faster, deviations from pre-approved standards declined, and transparency into the company’s contract landscape was crucial to identifying more opportunities for improvement.
Getting started I take a design thinking approach to just about everything. Before you stop reading because you’ve just seen another buzz word, let me explain that when I say design thinking, I mean taking a “people first” approach to build a solution that works for them, rather than picking an off the shelf solution and trying to mold it to your organization.
This means thinking about your user base, your audience. As the person or team proposing and rolling out a contract management system or policy, it’s important to be very aware that you are not necessarily representing the people who are going to use it. Make sure you get their input early and often.
In the infographic below I’ve proposed 8 steps that ensure a human centric (and design-led) approach to selecting the right solution for you, your users, and your organization. As you read through the steps, note the colored circles in the margins which include some useful tips and questions to ask yourself throughout the process. I hope you find it useful in your journey.
A couple final thoughts on the process:
- Don’t rush into it. If you don’t take the time to get it right, you risk losing your champions. It’s much harder to convince people to take a chance on a new way of working a second time.
- It’s not one and done. As much as we like to think of technology this way because it automates repetitive tasks, so you never have to do them again, it’s so important to continue to gather feedback and ensure your systems and policies evolve as your organization evolves.
- Speak the language of your audience. Every organization has a culture and a particular way of working, but so do people and departments. If you are trying to get your marketing team on board with using a new tool, speak to them in videos and infographics - this is how they think.
- If you are trying to convince your finance department to invest in a new technology, make sure you have your numbers and projections prepared. Anticipate questions and answer them in advance. Communication is the key to making a change together.
Best of luck on your contract management journey! And feel free to get in touch with any questions, comments or feedback.
The opinions and views represented in this article are the authors alone, and do not constitute legal advice
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ama Zbarcea left a career in law to become an entrepreneur. After leading a project that won a Financial Times Innovation Award, Ama founded Opsygen in 2018 to help more companies with their transformation projects. Ama leads Opsygen and every client project with the philosophy that people come first and focusing on what they need to do their jobs well is paramount to earning their loyalty and inspiring them to produce their best work. Ama also volunteers her time on projects that advocate for data privacy and consumer choice and as a WorldCC Council Member.
Opsygen is a strategy consultancy that helps clients transform their internal operations to maximize their people's effectiveness. Through a combination of technology and communication, Opsygen helps clients spend less, work smarter and be heard by both internal and external audiences. Opsygen works with companies from startups to multinationals, in the public and private sector. With a little help from us, Opsygen clients have won innovation awards across multiple disciplines, including Legal & HR
Content reflects views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of World Commerce & Contracting.