Four Business Solutions CEO John O’Brien mulls over the issues that matter…

I often come across people who are considering investing in contract management software but get put off by what I can only describe as misleading myths. Which is a real a shame because – when you get it right – contract management software makes your whole contract management lifecycle more sophisticated. It will:

  • boost security
  • protect you from frivolous litigation
  • generate a true return on investment.

What business doesn’t want that suite of excellent benefits?

Myth One – My contracts and documents won’t be secure, and could be accessed by the wrong people

It goes without saying that security is an absolute priority when it comes to contract management. Whatever system you have, it must ensure and safeguard appropriate levels of access, confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.

Take our recommended contract management software – Contract Insight. It provides security at individual document level, with access control allowed by person, group, location, business unit or companywide.

Hosting the software is something that can also raise security flags, but that’s easily handled with some on-site help from our team, or by allowing Four Business Solutions to manage the solution via our cloud deployment.

Either way, the result is an extremely high level of security, suitable for most organisations. Our cloud solution fully complies with ISO 27001 certification (Information Security Management Standard), and we keep our standards bang up to date, every year.

Myth Two – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions provide all the contract management capabilities my business needs

This is like saying that Word or Excel are all you need to run your business. Most emerging businesses have to deal with all sorts of nuances in their contracts, and they want something more capable than a digital (or even a real) filing cabinet. For that, you need purpose-designed contract management software.

One example of the potential benefits of Contract Insight – it keeps a check on the legal robustness of every contract a company signs. This requires clever workflow to streamline the whole process, from before a supplier is selected through contract award, negotiation and renewal. Contract Insight also handles ancillary activities, so the organisation is not legally exposed. Plus it monitors your supplier (employee or client) is to make sure they provide the promised service, in line with your expectations, the contract and any regulations.

A full contract management system can also create a list of actions due, such as warranties, renewals and services, for an added confidence. Other systems like CRM and ERP will only allow simple tasks to be completed, such as make payments and store an electronic copy of the document.

Myth Three – Contract management only impacts a few people within the organisation

It’s true that some contracts only affect a few people. However, if you think about the modern age and the complexities of stakeholder interests, any business could be left exposed.

For example, a contract with an employee for a company car will have knock-on liabilities, and companies need to protect themselves from frivolous mitigation. Contract Insight can ensure your internal motor policies are shared with employees. All staff that drive can be asked to sign the company motor policy. And through an electronic audit trail, your managers can ensure they’ve read the policy and agreed to it with an e-signature. This type of contract extends company-wide, but also externally to legal firms and car vendors.

So if – perish the thought – one of your employees is involved in a serious car accident while out on company business, this linking of consequential loss could prevent your company directors being sued and held accountable for a driving accident in court.

Myth Four – I’m going to invest more time and money setting this up without any return on my investment (ROI) for me and my business

What defines ROI? It can be time or money, but it doesn’t always stop there. In my view, the third kind of ROI is a situation where something goes wrong, but because you’re prepared for a situation like this you avoid costly litigation. The complexities of employing people, dealing with suppliers and meeting consumer demands leave every business open to contractual disputes.

In terms of setting up, an initial ‘cost’ is inevitable to implement smart IT systems, but when it comes to Contract Insight, the value is really there for all of our clients before you’ve even invested.

Let me explain how. Four Business Solutions provides a pilot environment for clients before they commit to the software and implements a customised, easy-to-manage system from inception to ‘Go-Live’.

A typical deployment for a small business is approximately 5-6 days, or, for a SME business, 10-15 days which includes training and data migrations. And Contract Insight has a concurrent licensing structure for the software, which is the most economical and efficient way to invest.

In summary

The bottom line is – we prove our solutions work for you before you invest, and then we offer you an efficient licensing model so that you get the most from your investment. And it’s delivered quickly and efficiently, to keep your total costs very low.

John O’Brien is the CEO at Four Business Solutions, global business consultants and software integrators providing business processes improvements in Finance, Supply Chain & Operations, across a broad range of industries.