Contracting Excellence Journal

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Their self-service contracts are signed with a single ‘click,’ and the service they receive is instant. Agile self-service customer deals are the future – but if your contract lifecycle management (CLM) systems can’t cope you could soon pay the price.

Perhaps the simplest example of how a self-service contract works is when you buy an airline ticket to a specific destination using a kiosk.  It generates a smart (self-service) contract based on your selections. The airline industry has pioneered the self-service contract, speeding tens of thousands of passengers through a complex logistical system of ticketing (i.e. contracting) and registering passengers.

Today this model has become so universal that many other consumer-focused industries are following suit such as the fast food.  Self-service saves hours of labor that can be redeployed to other areas like customer service.

In the contracting lifecycle management space, self-service contracting gets more complex than the kiosk.  It automatically performs routine manual contracting tasks, leaving you free to concentrate on higher level management.

Within the self-service environment, your organization will become more competitive, because your teams will also do contracting faster and more accurately with as little slowdown as possible.  Examples:

  • Self-service contracts help companies manage their daily business from HR to sales to procurement, to protect against risk, hit incentives, hire employees, install systems and plan for the future.
  • Companies managing 20,000 to 50,000 contracts find that casual business users will at some point need to access a corporate contract management system. For example:
  • a user executing a Non-disclosure agreement (NDA) brings in a vendor for a service contract;
  • an employee executing a benefits document; or
  • a manager executing a lease agreement to expand office space.
  • A high-tech contract in many organizations is in a portable document format (PDF) with comment bubbles.

ADVANTAGES

Mobility – Using mobile devices, users can manage and execute contracts on the fly. A mobile device’s instant access sets the contract process in motion; expediting stakeholders’ review, edit or execution of the contract.

Templates - Preconfigured templates are essential for promoting self-service. With a specific type of template for specific contract scenarios, users can better understand and manage buy-side and sell-side contracts.  A template also enables users to manage the specific contract process according to their business needs without requiring legal involvement.

Electronic Signatures – Digitized signatures (e-signatures) execute and finalize contracts faster. Digitization can save printing costs and improve audit tracking as part of the wider execution process.

Workflow – While preconfigured processes and templates manage specific processes, e-signatures expedite workflow that allow contract administrators to amend or review a contract. Intelligence of workflow ensures proper authorities are involved when special exceptions to self-service arise.

A typical example would be a request by contract business users answering web-based questionnaires that guide them through the contract request process.

If their answers are complete and compliant, the contract management system generates a contract document that is ready for wet signature or E-signature. (Incomplete, non-compliant, or non-standard requests are routed for review to lawyers or contract managers that are now freed to focus on these contracts instead of manually drafting routine documents.)

Not only does self-service increase the productivity of business and legal teams, it also reduces risk by standardizing and centralizing contract templates and improves compliance by centralizing the storage of generated contracts and their associated metadata and approval processes.

Typical users are:

  • a sales rep requiring a sales agreement for a prospect
  • a customer service agent providing the most up to date service or product agreement to a customer
  • an IT manager providing a consulting agreement to IT contractors for a contingent labor engagement;  
  • a business user getting an NDA executed to on-board a vendor for a service contract;
  • an employee executing a benefits document; or
  • a business manager executing a lease agreement for expanding office space.

Companies managing thousands of contracts understand it’s inevitable that casual business users will at some point need access to a corporate contract management system.

As you consider contract management technology, consider the usage that makes the most sense for self-service approaches.  As has so often been the case with CLM, the failure to anticipate the wider usage has prevented the ROI in the past.  The next generation of technology decision makers need to consider the evolution of self-service as the next step for enabling a wider number of users in the contract management process, while maintaining the controls necessary for improving compliance and mitigating contract risk.

Click on an IACCM webinar about CLM and self-service titled, Contract Management: It's time to think about the user!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julien Nadaud’s focus is to bring teams and innovative technologies together to build a global industry leader in strategic sourcing, supplier management, procure-to-pay and contract management. A global specialist in eProcurement and spend management, he has an impressive career of industry innovations, having implemented more than 100 projects worldwide.

ABOUT Determine, Inc.

Determine is a global provider of industry-leading cloud solutions that help organizations gain complete visibility into their data; turn it into valuable insights; and achieve total control to make more intelligent, confident business decisions. Through end-to-end source-to-pay and contract management, our next-generation tools empower you to proactively eliminate risks, cut costs and save money.

Topics: contract /commercial management, organization & people, contract management

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