Complete contract visibility is the bedrock of effective vendor management. Businesses that don’t know where their agreements are kept, what stage contracts are at in the lifecycle, which vendors they have onboarded or whether obligations are being fulfilled will struggle to stay in control of their portfolio and may also be nurturing the risk of non-compliance.
Businesses still relying on a combination of spreadsheets, pen and paper, email and shared drives are those most likely to lack contract visibility. They will likely be faced with secondary challenges such as:
- Duplicate versions of agreements that can misinform negotiations
- Inaccurate data as a result of manual input which can lead to poor decision-making
- Frustrated internal teams who aren’t able to collaborate seamlessly
- Too much time and resource being dedicated to locating agreements
- Poor vendor performance going unnoticed
So how can businesses improve their current level of contract visibility?
In this article, we take a look at how contract lifecycle management software is pivotal in bringing vendor agreements to the forefront so teams have all the information they need at their fingertips.
Why is contract visibility important?
Having visibility and awareness of your vendor contracts means that stakeholders - whether that’s Legal, Finance or Procurement - all have an accurate understanding of the business’s portfolio. Key teams are able to see the current state of the portfolio, predict the future state and take early remedial action if agreements aren’t progressing the way they prefer.
Contract visibility is about more than knowing where your contracts are. It’s also about accessing insights into performance, risk and spend so that your business has the foresight to make informed business decisions later down the line.
Contract visibility also helps your business to answer strategic questions such as:
- What agreements do I have in place; are they all needed, are any duplicates and what are the expected outcomes?
- How much spare time do we have as a result of having everything in one place and where can this be strategically applied?
- Which agreements are due for renewal and when; are these agreements we want to continue with or do we have the opportunity to consolidate?
- Are all obligations being fulfilled and if outcomes aren’t going to be as agreed, what steps do we need to take in the immediate future?
- Are all third-party certificates, especially relating to security and insurance, nearing their expiry date and if so who do we need to notify?
Contract visibility isn’t just a benefit in itself. It creates a pathway that allows your business to be more proactive, productive and resilient.
How can contract management software increase visibility?
If your business is still manually storing and tracking its contracts, it will face barriers caused by time consumption, data fragmentation and inconsistent processes. If your business is experiencing these symptoms, a case can be made for the implementation of CLM software.
Below, we take a look at how Gatekeeper - a leading contract and vendor management solution - helps businesses to get better oversight of their vendor contracts.
1. Centralise agreements in a robust contract repository
The Gatekeeper platform is built around a centralised contract repository. All contracts, documents and other information relating to the agreements are stored securely, with access only being granted to relevant stakeholders. By storing all contracts in one location, your business will create a single source of truth.
All stakeholders know where to go for the information they need, can trust that they are working on the latest version of a vendor agreement and can see all key dates related to a contract. The contract repository is completely scalable, with no limits on the amount of contracts or documents that can be stored within them.
Not only does this facilitate future growth for businesses, but it’s also helpful if your business has large volumes of legacy contracts that need to be digitised. Contract management software doesn’t only help you to modernise your approach but also continues to grow alongside your business.
See all contracts in one place with Gatekeeper's centralised repository.
2. Automatically extract data and easily locate it after
If your business does have large volumes of legacy contracts, importing them into a new CLM solution may feel intimidating. Gatekeeper’s AI Extract does all the heavy lifting for you, driving efficiency and improving accuracy. Whether your contracts are PDF format or even handwritten, the tool automatically extracts the metadata to the central repository.
Extracting accurate metadata is just one part of the process and the activity gains greater value when the stored data becomes actionable."
Stakeholders need the ability to quickly find the vendor information they need - whether that’s a key date, an important clause or an entire contract - and use the data to drive remedial, preventative or strategic action.
Gatekeeper offers a powerful OCR engine that acts as a Google counterpart to your vendor contracts. Stakeholders can use advanced filter options to search across all data-points in all documents. Precise document coordinates, highlighted results and results that are categorised by contract, vendor or file name all create efficient identification.
Search for the information you need from anywhere within Gatekeeper.
3. Know what to expect in the future with automated reminders
Balancing strategic work and contract administration - especially where multiple vendor contracts are involved - is no easy feat when it’s done manually. Remembering to check renewal dates, expiry dates, review dates and other deadlines becomes another plate to spin.
When stakeholders are then also responsible for chasing vendors for updates and prompting colleagues to take ownership of actions, their day-to-day activities can become bloated with emails, calendar reminders and phone calls."
Gatekeeper uses extracted and centrally stored key dates to trigger automated notifications to relevant stakeholders. Whether a renewal is due, a certificate is about to expire or an agreement has taken too long to be signed, an alert will be emailed to whoever is involved.
Automated notifications make all upcoming events visible and raise awareness for stakeholders and vendors alike. Risks are no longer hidden, bottlenecks can be easily addressed and teams don’t need to be buried by administrative tasks such as checking calendars and chasing others.
4. Increase visibility of the entire lifecycle, not just a contract’s location
Knowing where your vendor contracts are, which events need to be actioned and all key dates that need to be adhered to are stepping stones on the path to complete visibility. Gatekeeper takes things one step further by giving your business visibility of the entire lifecycle - and whichever vendor processes you most want to see.
With the Kanban Workflow Engine, your business can digitise, automate and visualise everything from vendor onboarding to vendor contract reviews. Kanban boards demonstrate tasks that are done, in progress and are still ‘to-do’; creating a very clear picture of a contract’s progress within its lifecycle. This level of visibility provides multiple benefits including:
- Easy identification and resolution of bottlenecks
- Proactivity around key dates such as renewals and expiries
- Assignment of cards and phases owners seen by all stakeholders
- Accountability of contract progression and outcomes
- Greater internal efficiency as teams are prompted to take action.
The powerful combination of Gatekeeper’s Kanban Workflow Engine and its automated reminders prevents vendor contracts from slipping through the cracks."
This visual tool provides hindsight into the contract’s process so far and delivers foresight for future actions that are required. Maintaining compliance, staying within SLAs and time-to-contract all become far more achievable when everyone can see what’s going on.
See how contracts are progressing and the owner of each action.
5. Create a single source of truth via native integrations
Contract management approaches aren’t created equally. The methods and tools used will often depend on the maturity, size and nature of your business. Many businesses seek increased contract visibility because their agreements are currently stored in spreadsheets and drives. But for other businesses, this fragmentation exists between emails and ERPs.
Although having ERPs in place may provide some level of control, contract management activities can often occur outside of this solution. This still leads to the same problems of data fragmentation, limited visibility and inaccurate decision making.
If your business is looking to contract lifecycle management to help resolve these issues, it needs to consider how a solution will fit in with the tech-stack already in place. Gatekeeper prioritises interconnectivity through its creation of native integrations including:
- A Built For NetSuite SuiteApp; allowing you to see vendor data in one place
- Salesforce; helping you to close deals faster
- Zapier; allowing you to integrate over 4,000 apps with CLM software
The integration with NetSuite, for example, allows teams to see their entire contract portfolio within the platform. Gatekeeper offers advanced NetSuite field-mapping support, so teams have complete control over configuration, allowing the two systems to work together in a way that best suits the business.
Its full data sync capabilities means that teams can see the information they need and have confidence that the data is accurate. Stakeholders don’t need to keep swapping between solutions to have visibility of their portfolio - instead, they can build and work from a single source of truth.
Gatekeeper's Built For NetSuite SuiteApp
The importance of contract visibility should never be underestimated. Without having this in place, control and compliance throughout your portfolio won’t be easy to achieve. A lack of visibility and contract awareness can lead to significant issues and consequences for your organisation.
Contract management software like Gatekeeper offers features that are specifically designed to give you an up-to-date and accurate view of your contracts and vendors. A searchable and centralised repository, visualised processes and integrations with your existing tech-stack are a winning formula for effective contract and vendor management.
If you’re ready to improve your business’s contract and vendor visibility, or you’re ready to see how Gatekeeper can directly help your objectives, get in touch today.