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Agora Cyber Charter School: Contract Management Case Study
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Name: Agora Cyber Charter School
Location: King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
About: Agora Cyber Charter provides students the opportunity to engage in a personalized, innovative education that inspires and prepares them to reach their highest potential, both academically and socially. Agora Cyber Charter School serves students K-12, offering a unique and fulfilling educational experience. A leading provider of cyber education in Pennsylvania, Agora, established in 2005, has been perfecting their virtual curriculum over the last 15 years and is a proven expert in the field of virtual education. 

The burden of Manual contract Management

Agora Cyber Charter School is a non-profit online education provider based in Pennsylvania. 

Before Gatekeeper, they had followed a resource-intensive and highly manual contract process consisting of 14 steps. This process resulted in lengthy email chains and numerous opportunities for issues with contracts.

The primary challenge lay with service provider contracts, which were typically 2-year agreements renegotiated every 18 months.

Managing 50-100 contracts simultaneously fell to a single individual, the Director of Finance. Each contract encompassed pricing and service agreements for as many as 30 subsets of therapy and delivery types. 

“It became more of a job than my job did... it was it was a very manual, arduous task to write, negotiate, and sign all of this at the same time, and it was being done really through email chain.”

The process involved multiple steps and required extensive interaction. Here's a breakdown:

  • Identification of Need: Staff identifies a need within the organization
  • Selection of Service: Staff identifies potential service providers to fulfill the need
  • Initial Contact: Staff emails the service provider to gauge interest in negotiation and contract establishment
  • Contract Templating: The request is forwarded to the Director of Finance, who sends a templated contract to the service provider
  • Contract Negotiation: The service provider may make redline edits, negotiating terms and pricing
  • Legal Review: If there are significant changes, the contract is sent to legal for review
  • Revised Contract Sent to Finance: Legal sends back the reviewed contract to Finance
  • Communication with Service Provider: Finance shares the amended contract with the service provider
  • Finalizing Terms: Upon agreement on terms and prices, the Word document is converted to a PDF by the Director of Finance and sent to the service provider for signature
  • Signature Process: The Director of Finance sends the document to the service provider to be signed
  • CEO Approval: The signed document is then sent to the CEO's administrative assistant
  • CEO Review and Signature: The administrative assistant sends it to the CEO for signature
  • Document Routing: The CEO returns the signed document to the administrative assistant, who forwards it to the Director of Finance
  • Filing and Distribution: The Director of Finance files the document and sends a copy to the service provider

The Director of Finance, Jim abides by the mantra of "never throw people at problems".

It's this level of foresight and vision that propelled him to explore software solutions.

With a strong and innovative leadership mindset, he understood the importance of addressing the underlying process rather than just fixing immediate issues.

"If we fix the process, the problem ceases to exist. So I am never in favor of onboarding a $50,000 or $100,000 position, plus benefits, for something that a $20,000 a year software can do”.

So Jim went in search of a solution that could automate his process.

Researching contract lifecycle Management Software

The search for Gatekeeper began with Google. Jim knew he needed a system that could manage the full Contract Lifecycle Management process.

It needed to be so simple to use that even someone unfamiliar with the product could navigate it effortlessly. As a public school, price was a key priority. Jim stated, “We are custodians of tax-paying dollars as a public school. Price is a big factor.”

Jim shortlisted three options that met his criteria, demoed each system, and Gatekeeper rose to the top because of its intuitive interface and competitive pricing.

The benefit of Gatekeeper 

Now, with Gatekeeper in place, the Director of Finance can easily keep track of the stage of each contract request. Workflow automation and e-signatures have made the process much simpler and shorter, saving Agora 40 hours a month.

Before Gatekeeper there were “filing cabinets and boxes of all this stuff”. Now, Gatekeeper has everything in one spot. 

Having things lost in email chains” is now a thing of the past. Using Gatekeeper, Jim can see where each contract is at with just a click. He can track the stages in a Kanban view. He doesn't need to search through emails or chase people. All interactions and documents are recorded within one system, providing a comprehensive audit trail. 

Relying on people to solve problems is unsustainable and inefficient”, Jim, the Director of Finance prefers to automate processes instead.

Regarding the team's remote setup, he emphasized, "Having everything in the cloud was key for us. I can't walk next door and say 'Hey, can you review this? Can you sign this?' So for us in a virtual setting, that cloud-based component is big."

Jim remarked, "I can share vendor records and contracts effortlessly now. It's a click of a button for me to give somebody access to a vendor file or specific contract or workflow."

summary 

The implementation of Gatekeeper at Agora Cyber Charter School has significantly enhanced its contract management process.

By automating workflows, centralizing document storage, and incorporating e-signatures, Agora has saved substantial time and resources. This efficiency not only supports their remote operational model but also aligns with their commitment to fiscal responsibility as a public school.

Gatekeeper has transformed a previously burdensome task into a streamlined, manageable process, allowing the school to focus more on its core mission of providing quality education.

Shannon Smith
Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith bridges the gap between expert knowledge and practical VCLM application. Through her extensive writing, and years within the industry, she has become a trusted resource for Procurement and Legal professionals seeking to navigate the ever-changing landscape of vendor management, contract management and third-party risk management.

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