By Anurag Malik, Chief Technology Officer at ContractPodAi
Viewing your company’s agreement-related data – without the benefit of a contract analysis solution – is like looking at the surface of the ocean to try to understand what is deep under the water. You can see what is happening ‘above the water,’ of course, yet miss out on the ecosystems of information and insights lying beneath the surface.
Just as there may be sharks or rocks below the ocean waves, there may be business risks lurking in your contract data, even though they remain out of sight. Further, there may be more efficient ways of doing business – ideas that can be extracted from a contract repository like treasure from the ocean floor.
As your company’s business technology ‘captain’, you are responsible for application engineering and strategic navigation, not to mention the security, reliability, and availability of the data. Of course, you may think that you understand the past, present, and future health of your business. You may have a ‘gut feel’ about the tranquility, storminess, or fast-paced nature of your business situation.
Yet, an AI-augmented contract analytics engine provides trustworthy, empirical facts. It lets you know if your business is headed in the right direction or if you should take corrective, data-driven action. Such technology also offers pre-built reports and data visualization tools. With it, your IT team does not need to query multiple systems to bring all of this data together in manual reports.
Here are five ways a contract analysis tool helps you to meet these goals.
1. Understanding Historical Trends
Your company’s finance team can learn quite a bit by reviewing balance sheets and P&L reports. Sales, marketing, and channel management teams can discover a great deal by generating their own reports. Meanwhile, HR executives have a wealth of human capital management information – concerning employee performance, onboarding, and off-boarding – at their disposal, too.
Nevertheless, the reports from these departments only tell part of the story of how your business has been performing. Maybe sales are falling because your suppliers are not delivering parts to your factories on time. Perhaps you are losing customers or extending contract cycle time because you are not getting your manufactured products to market quickly enough to meet demand.
Well, the good news is that the latest contract analytics applications provide reports against current or past performance benchmarks. These may come pre-built or be configured based on your unique business workflows. Indeed, the old adage, ‘if you fail to learn from the lessons of the past, you are doomed to repeat them’, applies here. KPIs and metadata from past contract wins and losses are excellent learning resources needed to navigate risks.
2. Completing Data Migration
Let us say that you need to scan a large backfile of physical contract documents, running them through an OCR process, or move a large batch of electronic records from a shared drive. Your ability to identify key metadata attributes on those files will determine how effectively you can leverage your existing contracts whenever new agreements are added. With a contract lifecycle management platform with integrated OCR, searchable repositories, online negotiation portals, workflow capabilities, and reports are all completely within reach. That means that your technical team does not have to spend time evaluating and ‘stitching’ together disparate systems for each set of functionality.
What’s more, a contract analytics platform can add more structure to these unstructured files, which is especially helpful during e-discovery. For instance, a set of contracts may need to be locked down for an audit or during litigation for compliance purposes. That way, IT professionals do not have to write custom queries to identify and hold a set of files. They can stay productive and focused on strategic projects like systems integration or other digital transformation efforts.
Following a merger or acquisition, the ability to import contracts into a common, intelligent repository is also key. Dragging thousands of files from one drive to another, and then going back to tidy things up only creates chaos, as two corporate entities become one.
3. Increasing Renewal and Win-Back Rates
For companies like Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors or real estate leasing firms, recurring revenue is the lifeblood of the business. As such, contract analytics need to provide operations staff with visibility into contracts, whenever they are set to expire.
Businesses that wait until the eleventh hour – just before a contract is about to expire – run the risk of losing clients. When a contract lapses due to an administrative error, there is an interruption of services. And that is particularly damaging to customer relations. Clients may simply feel that their business is not valued enough.
However, contract managers or business line executives can generate and share reports in familiar Excel formats. They can send renewal notifications to customers well before their contract is set to lapse. As a result, sales or account maintenance personnel can follow up quickly to minimize churn.
4. Becoming Device Agnostic and Offering Secure, Reliable Cloud Services
Is your IT department a part of a high-growth business, or a nationally- or internationally-distributed enterprise? Well, to make certain that a common contract management and reporting service is secure and accessible online, you do not have to invest in expensive IT infrastructure.
Are you currently managing your business applications, whether on-premises or cloud-based? By selecting a Microsoft Azure-powered contract management and reporting platform, you can mitigate all of the associated costs, like VPNs and other security infrastructure.
Remote employees can access contracts, reports, and contract KPI dashboards from wherever the internet is available, and on their preferred computer or mobile device. No need to spend time provisioning desktop applications, managing log-in credentials, or training users on complex software.
5. Easing Customization
In the digital age, proprietary and rigid contract management software really does not cut it anymore. A contract reporting application, which allows you to customize contract metadata fields and generate custom reports, is where the proverbial puck is going. Like many companies, you and your colleagues across the business may use Microsoft PowerBI to generate reports from other SaaS apps.
And because they combine contract data with sales or financial data from other systems, like Salesforce.com or Dynamics 365, reports tend to resonate with your colleagues in legal, sales, finance, and operations.
Model Reporting on Your Business, Don’t Re-Engineer Your Business Processes
There is really no need to completely re-engineer your business processes, culture, or ‘internal lingo’ to ensure that your reporting system reflects your business. Instead, use tailored reports that reveal how you are doing business today – what boosts productivity and what serves as a detriment.
So, as your company’s technology lead, have you been tasked with evaluating contract management and reporting platforms? Are you interested in adopting and implementing a new reporting system of your own? You do not need to look further than the latest contract analytics solutions. As the record shows, they can help your business increase operational efficiency, and minimize legal and financial risk.
Anurag Malik is the Chief Technology Officer at ContractPodAi. Anurag’s focus is building the next generation of an AI-driven dominant technology platform in the contract management space.
[ Artificial Lawyer is proud to bring you this sponsored thought leadership article by ContractPodAi. ]