Getting to the Issues with Contracts and Elections

By John Dickow

          Contract Management

election-contracts.jpgAt SpringCM, we like to keep things light, and so just for kicks we thought it would be fun to see how many similarities we could find between the election cycle and the contract management lifecycle.  Of course when it comes to contract management, SpringCM has a solution that can make the process much easier for everyone involved.  Sadly, we can’t say the same about elections!

1) The process takes too long

No matter the political affiliation, research shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans are ready for this election to be over.  

Of the sales professionals surveyed in the 2016 State of Contract Management report, almost half said they their contract process lasts over four weeks. Businesses are using contract management solutions to automate workflows and gain visibility into bottlenecks to help shorten the contract process. Imagine if you could shorten the contract process by 75 percent. Leveraging contract management software, it's possible (if only we could do that to our elections).  

2) Finding relevant information can be a problem

With all the hot-button, controversial issues being discussed this election – how much of it really matters to you? Wouldn't it be nice if we could fast-forward debates to the issues that are relevant to you, or only read the headlines that focused on policy?

Whether you're starting a new contract, or preparing for a renewal – finding the right information fast is critical to cleaning up the contract process and improving productivity. Contract management solutions centralize all contracts and related content in a cloud repository, where they can be searched by keyword, clause, or any term found within the document.  They even allow organization to categorize contracts for reporting and analysis.  

3) The Third-Party cannot be underestimated

Third-parties have a history is getting ignored during the election cycle. But this is a democracy! Third-party opinions provide alternatives, bring in outside ideas, and can even sway the outcome of the race. Whether we agree with them or not, it's important that we pay attention to third-parties.  

Third-parties can also throw a wrench into the contract process. An organization may have a process behind building and storing their own contracts, but what if you need to work with the clients paper? Contract management solutions will allow you to upload third-party contracts in a searchable repository – but also put a process behind that contract by launching it into a workflow for reviews and approvals.  

4) Candidates never get started on the right foot

Maybe it's just an unofficial requirement, but presidential candidates often have a rough start to their campaign. Candidates play the blame game, but often stumble when kick-starting campaigns for a presidential bid that wastes time and money trying to catch up. Some candidates never recover.

The beginning of the contract process can also make or break a deal's success. If contracts are being cobbled together – it opens the door to human errors, which can lead to a weak contract, put revenue in jeopardy as well as take time to correct. Contract management solutions offer contract templates that can be customized to company standards as well as a library of pre-approved legal language to ensure the most up-to-date information is in the contract. After the contract is generated – a contract management solution wastes no time - sending it directly into the appropriate workflow.  

5) There's too much back and forth

This year, it's hard not to notice the negative, insult-riddled back and forth that dominates the presidential debates and news coverage. To make it worse, these exchanges tend to skew the facts, or ignore them altogether. Let's be honest, I think both candidate's legal teams have been working overtime this year.  

Contract negotiations can also become drawn out, with redlines being emailed back and forth, contracts sitting idle in inboxes, and reviewers coming and going from the process. Contract management solutions allows organizations to streamline negotiations by setting smart rules that define where the contract will be sent for reviews. When an action has been taken on the contract, the next individual in line is notified that it's their turn.  

6) They are unpredictable

This election cycle has set a new standard for rogue candidates. How can we commit our vote to someone when there's no transparency into their past, or insights into what they will do next? When candidates decide to take their own path, it can lead to damaging gaffes that can alter the trajectory of the race.  

Without visibility into where a contract has been, and where it needs to go next, it's hard to determine where a contract has been delayed, or what bottlenecks might occur in the future that can delay a deal, and revenue. Contract management solutions can track every action taken on a contract, including who performed the action and when, as well as what actions are still pending. With end-to-end visibility into the contract process, you can identify and predict contract slowdowns, and continuously optimize your process.  

7) Nobody is willing to work together

With every election, the country seems more partisan and more divided. When two sides are always working against each other – nothing gets done. What if both sides of the aisle could come together, put aside their differences and work towards real solutions? It might be a far-cry for the country, but for your sales process, there's hope.  

The contract process makes up about 20 percent of the overall sales cycle. But before the contract is made, there needs to be a process to configure a product and a price. When the contract is approved, it needs to be signed, and payments need to be delivered. Contract management solutions can integrate with other common sales solutions like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) and electronic signature tools. With all these tools working together, exchanging information, organizations can move seamlessly from one stage of the sales process to the other – streamlining the path to revenue.  

8) Security is an issue

Even our country's politics are being affected by cloud security. With online servers being hacked on both sides, it's concerning to think how easy it is for outsiders to obtain sensitive information and how it can affect our national security. You probably can't blame WikiLeaks or Russia, but the same concern applies to the security of your contracts.  

Being directly tied to revenue, contracts carry sensitive financial information. It's critical that only the right people can access that data. The best contract management solution come out of the box with federal-grade security standards to ensure contracts are safe from the outside world. Also, administrators can set up rules-based access to contracts based the user role or responsibility.  

9) Candidates can get renewed too

Typically, an incumbent candidate runs for re-election or "renewal" to earn another term. When it comes to this election cycle, we'll just leave it at that.  

Unlike presidents that can only earn one renewal or re-election (according to the U.S. Constitution), most contracts have no renewal caps thereby making them crucial to maintaining revenue. But when an organization has thousands of contracts in motion, renewals can creep up and leave little time at all to revisit the contract and make sure both sides are getting the best deal. Contract management solutions allow organizations to set smart reminders day, weeks or months ahead of a renewal. Reminders can be customized to be send to certain individuals at specific times, and even jump-start the renewal process by starting a workflow.  

There might not be a lot we can do now to stop this messy election (luckily it's almost over), but you can act now to clean up your contract process.

At SpringCM, we help people solve their contract issues to drive productivity. Whether it's an issue listed above, or one that's specific to your organization, we'd like to help. Click the button below that related to your contract challenge, and find out how SpringCM can help. 

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