Most organizations deal with contracts in some form or another sales, legal, real estate, support agreements, equipment and services. The Contract Management process sometimes consists of a multi-step manual process that involves multiple employees in several departments. Contracts often go through several iterations and get passed back and forth between organization and client many times. This post focuses on automating the Contract Management process within an organization.
The Contract Management process typically starts with some form of initial agreement with a client. The organization receives the contract and passes it through an internal review process. This review process usually routes through several individuals or groups within multiple departments across the organization, such as legal, sales, marketing and contract management. Many organizations handle this contract distribution process via some mixture of phone calls, email attachments, faxes and shared network drives. Once internal signoff is achieved, the contract gets emailed, faxed or mailed back to the client for review. If the client requires changes, the contract review process starts all over again and follows the same path. The review process usually concludes with signed final copies of the contract printed and filed away for archival in folders in a file cabinet.
Organizations encounter many challenges throughout this contract management process:
- Process participants usually have very little insight into the current status of a contract.
- Employees question if they are working with the latest contract version.
- No approval audit trail can be accurately determined thus making it difficult to know who approved what when.
- Many times no central repository exists for current and archived contracts.
- No easy way exists to quickly search for and find needed contract information.
- Periodic process reports are produced and updated manually.
Contract Management can be automated utilizing key features of SharePoint and Nintex Workflow to provide a greatly improved and more streamlined process. All incoming and archived contracts are housed in a contract library that includes version control and customized views. Each library item contains required and optional metadata which is used for searching, grouping and classification. Adding a contract to this library automatically kicks off the contract review workflow. Notifications and tasks alerts automatically route to the assigned process participant. Workflow tasks are completed and the contact review process continues on to the next steps. After the organizational review process is completed, the client automatically receives an email with the contract as an attachment. Depending on their response, a client can approve or request changes to the current contract and the workflow branches accordingly. Client contract approval triggers a series of events marking the contract as final, updating contract status and notifying organizational employees.
Automating the Contract Management process provides several key benefits:
- Employees always work with the latest version of the contract, no matter how many times it has been changed.
- Contract approval workflow tasks are automatically assigned to individuals or groups and can be delegated or escalated based upon predetermined criteria.
- Contracts can be approved or declined on a mobile device via the Nintex LazyApproval feature.
- Users easily determine the real-time contract status by accessing a graphical view of the workflow or a workflow history report.
- Users can quickly find the contract information they need with site search capabilities.
- A workflow dashboard provides a view of all current workflows running with their status, along with workflow tasks assigned to and workflows initiated by the current user.
Workflow reporting is available on each workflow, along with a graphical web part for viewing workflow statistics such as details on average run time, amount of workflows in progress, user performance, average workflow completion time and user response times.
The Contract Management process can be a frustrating exercise for organizations. But it doesn’t have to be. Leveraging the powerful features of SharePoint and Nintex Workflow allows organizations to realize higher levels of automation and efficiency. Not only does this solution save organizational employees a tremendous amount of time, it also provides more timely and accurate information to both client and company.