How Effective Contract Management Became a Critical Tool in the Fight Against COVID-19

By Andy Wishart, CLM Futurist & Chief Product Officer, Agiloft.

As we look back on the largest vaccination rollout in history, what can legal and contract operations teams learn from the agility of the businesses who were involved in that process? How can today’s businesses follow the steps the world’s leading vaccine and test developers, and their supply chain partners, took to manage their businesses at such a critical time? How did contract lifecycle management (CLM) software help to strengthen and transform the way business was done at the time, across numerous industries from pharma and biotech to manufacturing and logistics?

The COVID-19 pandemic rewrote the rules of commercial contracting for many businesses. Forcing organisations to work faster, to strengthen and build resilience into their supplier relationships, and become more informed of the risks involved in doing business in a certain way. Business as usual went out of the window, and many contract professionals were tasked with creating additional value from their contracting processes through better execution of their commercial contracts, and then analysing the data they could extract from them, before sharing it across their organisations.

Here are two examples of how Agiloft’s agile CLM drove improvements in contracting, supply chain resilience, and complex logistics for businesses who were central to the fight against COVID-19:

How Moderna’s legal operations team tapped Agiloft’s contract lifecycle management (CLM) software to improve Contract Efficiency

In 2020, the speed of business went from fast to warp speed for vaccine developers. Agiloft was brought on board as Moderna’s legal operations team raced to tighten up its contracting process to keep pace with its vaccine development programme. Moderna deployed Agiloft’s flexible CLM to rapidly build new workflows and processes that would yield the crucial efficiencies they needed to enable their ultimate mission to deliver on the promise of mRNA science and create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients.

As senior members of the Moderna’s legal operations team reported at this year’s CLOC Global Institute conference, the team knew that implementing a cutting-edge contract management solution was key to addressing rapidly changing challenges the business experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agiloft’s no-code CLM enabled members of the contracts team to create self-service Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) workflows that saved the business time and allowed its team of experts to focus on their ultimate mission of rolling out the vaccine.

Our agile CLM also helped speed up Moderna’s contract creation processes and reduced the risk of things going wrong, by enabling the team to build robust contract templates that helped teams from across the business to understand who was responsible, who was liable, who was meant to do what, when, and at what cost.

The operational improvements Moderna experienced using Agiloft’s flexible CLM were significant:

  • The legal operations team reduced its 20 legal contracting templates down to six, dramatically simplifying the entire contracting process while reducing risk of using the wrong template and streamlining contract requests.
  • Reducing CDA workflow times by over 75%, with only exceptions being escalated to the legal team.
  • The company also achieved a 100% adoption rate with its self-service portal for contracts.

Managing Risk in the Vaccine Supply Chain and Building Supply Chain Resilience

During COVID-19, the demand for products and shipping conditions was in a constant state of flux, which presented an ongoing challenge for vaccine and test manufacturers, as well as the freight companies tasked with trying to keep deliveries on track.

To overcome many of the logistical obstacles of COVID-19, freight and supply-chain solution providers relied on automation to maintain business continuity, specifically for managing contracts and fulfilment remotely. Effective contract management enabled businesses involved in supply chains during the pandemic to:

  • Track supplier contract obligations against real-time supply chain data using integrated logistics software in the field, like barcode scanners, GPS location data, truck temperatures, etc.
  • Manage and forecast risk in the supply chain using contract performance data to anticipate delays and issues with delivery.
  • Keep working. Secure, cloud-based solutions ensured business continuity and supply chain resiliency even during lockdowns and remote work.

Brandon Stanley, Sr. Director of Procurement at J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., an S&P 500 company, which provides supply chain solutions for a variety of customers throughout North America, explains: “With its cloud-based infrastructure, Agiloft enabled J.B. Hunt to transition to remote work and continue operations uninterrupted, trusting that Agiloft’s solution would remain secure and reliable despite worldwide disruptions.”

As the country relied on the freight industry to deliver around 4.22 million vaccines daily throughout the U.S. the potential for disruption was acute, with many of the same issues remaining today. As a result, CLM has become a critical tool in global supply chains to help freight providers stay organized and successfully ride out ongoing disruption.

What can we do today?

Many of the issues businesses faced during the pandemic remain, and the criticality for companies to manage risk in the face of geopolitical, regulatory, or economic swings has never been more acute. Tapping into the limitless intelligence of contracts can help businesses understand who is responsible, who is liable, who is going to do what and at what cost.

In fact, I’d argue that having that information at your fingertips is the greatest power of a CLM. Having a single solution to manage every obligation at the touch of a button—to be able to get out of a country or shut down a facility with “Tweet Shift” agility—is the true strategic value of CLM, beyond just managing the operational efficiency of processing contracts.

For the pharmaceutical industry, the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for the need to incorporate new technology to keep up with ever-changing landscapes and regulations. As supply chains worldwide have crumbled under duress from the pandemic, it has become clear that vendor visibility, careful regulatory compliance, and the adoption of new technology will be key for future progress and stability.

The enterprise needs to move beyond the foundational stage of digitizing contracts and automating contract management processes to connecting the data that is hidden in contracts to key people and processes across an organization. Once in the right systems and processes, that contract data can be transformed into business-critical intelligence that ultimately delivers more strategic value, ensuring contract data is acted upon and delivers the intelligence to optimize wider business outcomes.

Businesses can also innovate by relying more on automation. A contract management system can increase productivity by automatically informing employees when they need to act, for example make a payment or review contract terms. A holistic contract solution can also automatically send copies of invoices to an accounting department or inform procurement departments that contracts for purchases are in place, which eliminates bottlenecks and communication breakdowns between departments.

Businesses across many industries have been dealt a series of unprecedented challenges following the pandemic and have been working tirelessly to solve them. These challenges are a sign that the business world is ripe for innovation. The global consequences of the pandemic have been massive, but so have the advancements made to treat and prevent COVID-19. We can learn a huge amount from how the pharma and medical industry adapted, evaluating the industry’s shortcomings, and embracing new technology that helped them thrive and save many lives while doing so.

To see how Agiloft can help transform your contract management process and save an average of 9.2% of revenue a year, click here.

[ Artificial Lawyer is proud to bring you this sponsored thought leadership article by Agiloft. ]