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On Thursday 25th June 2020, the Gatekeeper team hosted a webinar covering the topic of 'Proactive Renewals Management'. In this 40 minute session, we covered:

  • Why you need to act now on contract renewals
  • How to stay on top of them using Gatekeeper dashboards, reports and events
  • How to automate your processes using Gatekeeper's Kanban Workflow Engine
  • Q & A

You can watch the webinar below and we have also made the transcript available. 



Transcript


Richard Rowe (RR)
: Okay, so it's three minutes past, so I'm going to get started. For all of you guys that have joined. Welcome. Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

My name is Richard Rowe and I’m one of the Account Executives at Gatekeeper and I'm also joined by James Ince, who is one of our Customer Success Managers.

James Ince (JI): Hi everyone.

RR: Today will be about guiding you through proactive contract renewal management. So just a heads up, we will be sending out a recording of this along with the slides. So, you will have everything you need in case you need to jump off.

We'll go through some questions at the end, so please make sure you submit your questions in the comments box below. Depending on time, we may not be able to answer all of these, but we will send an answer afterwards if anyone is left out.

Just an additional heads up, we have customers here today who are with us at Gatekeeper and people that aren't customers of Gatekeeper. So, for some areas, it might be a bit of a refresher for some of you that are customers of ours, but it's just to give context. So hopefully you still get value out of most of it as well.

So to kick off, I want to start with the agenda for today - three key goals. I'd like you all to walk away from this understanding why you need to act and I'll go through a handful of slides to explain that.

And secondly, how to proactively keep on top of your revenues. And lastly how to automate your processes. And so for the second and third parts, we will share a screen. So I'll cover off the proactive renewals and James will then take over and take on the automation process as well.

At Gatekeeper we speak with a lot of companies that have been through the pain of missing six-figure renewals."


I also want to provide more of a personal example. I signed up for a one month free trial with Audible. Some of you might know it, but it’s the audiobook service from Amazon. 

I added a note to cancel it - It was on my to do list. I had the best intentions but after a couple of sessions I realised I wasn't a fan. Then when the time came to cancel, something must have come up and I just forgot.

Months later I was checking my bank statement and realised that the subscription had automatically renewed and I've been spending around £6 every month for something I wasn't even using. I'm sure I'm not the only one that's struggled with this and I'm definitely not alone.

According to research, the average British person wastes more than £30,000 a lifetime on direct debits."


So it doesn't matter where you are in the world, whether it be in Canada, US or in Europe - no doubt you've come across this before.

But we hear the business equivalent of this all the time and when we first speak with organisations and from those managing contract processes with Excel or other manual systems, we hear how incredibly hard it is to stay on top of termination and renewal dates and how the costs can escalate really quickly as well.

So, what are the challenges that people face? I want to quickly walk you through three key areas that we often come across - and obviously there are many other challenges that teams in Legal, Procurement, Contract Management teams face - but these are the three that come up most often.

So the first is lack of control, you're caught out in auto renewal contracts if you missed the notice period and you're forced to spend another term. Or the contract expires without your knowledge and there's a potential impact on your colleagues and customers who rely on that service or product.

When you're forced to renegotiate terms and costs with the expiry date less than a week, you're definitely not in a strong position and your supplier definitely knows that.

And the last point is operational workflow workload. When we speak to teams who are bearing that burden, it's really hard to add value when they're being reactive.

When we speak to teams who are managing renewals, they tend to be a very small percentage of the overall company headcount. Yet when it comes to actual contract management and venues, they tend to bear the vast majority of that burden, so they end up taking it all on."


It's not very streamlined. It's very manual and so they get bogged down with that. So we do a lot to streamline that process.

To highlight that I want to give you a quick customer story before we jump into the actual demo part. I want to walk you through a quick example with one of our UK based enterprise customers.

The Procurement and Legal team there had contracts all over the place. They were in desk drawers, they were in external hard drives, email accounts - all over the place and everything was manual. They didn't know when things were happening, and they were setting reminders all the time.

But once they implemented Gatekeeper and they had that full visibility, everything was centralised in one place with the workflows. They also managed to consolidate that category spend with that visibility as well."


So what they realised was, for a specific category, they had around nine large suppliers on their list, and then they realised that they only had two of them that were pre-approved. They did a lot to consolidate that; bringing all that business to the two that are already approved. And in the end they saved between £200-300k in the first year.

It's definitely something that gains that amount of value really quickly and it just enables them to keep control.

Hopefully, that's giving you a quick context on why you need to act and why this kind of thing is so important. I’m going to share my screen and actually show you the proactive renewal side.

Okay, so you should be able to see Gatekeeper on your screen now and, for my section, we will focus on how to proactively keep on top of your venues, with the help of dashboards reports and events.

As you can see on the left hand side, the platform can be branded and the executive dashboard is designed to give you a very high level overview of everything that's in your account.

So you can see the total value of contracts, suppliers and categories and more. I won't go into too much detail with the other areas, but I will focus on the events section on the top right. This area is for ad-hoc tasks and periodic reviews. I’ll also focus on the contract renewals timeline in the middle here.

When you have all of your contracts and metadata migrated into Gatekeeper, this dashboard is automatically populated. So, as I hover over these areas you can see the volume of contracts and the spend as well.

This is sorted by “End Date” at the moment, but we can toggle this to be by "Notice Period". Sometimes that's more appropriate. And we can also drill down to "Ownership". So, if I just want to see the contracts I own to see what's coming up, I can do that easily here.

If you're managing contracts using Excel, this is where you would likely struggle. Not having full visibility; you don't have alerts and tasks set up to ensure all stakeholders are on top of this.

You'll probably be juggling with a combination of spreadsheets, emails, calendar reminders, all of which makes you vulnerable to mistakes and therefore a risk for end users that are more operational."


Day to day they can see what's coming up in the next three months without having a dashboard here.

As the name suggests, it's going to give you a high level overview for the next three months. You can set dates, notice periods and all the events I do in the next three months as well.

Having visibility is pretty key for you to understand your position and see what is coming up ahead, so we allow you to segment your data in a number of ways.

Contract-Renewal (1)Gatekeeper's Renewal Workflow

The first thing is categories, and you can see all the categories that we have here, this could be "Spend Categories" or "Customers", for example. If I wanted to see all the contracts within the "Hardware Category" this will give me a summary of the contracts and suppliers associated with that category as well.

In a very similar way, we could do the same thing with teams. So I could see all the contracts owned by certain teams and therefore see the same dashboard. And finally, if you're big enough to have multiple legal entities, we can set up for you as well.

So let's just say I'm part of the contract management team for legal documents in the Americas.

I can click on this entity and see an overview of everything I need to be on top of within my remit. It's not just a dashboard. It will also give you the data from suppliers contracts and other information. 

Now what I want to do is go back into the exact dashboard and actually show you some of the reports underneath as well.

These dashboards are powered by reports. So if I wanted to see all the contracts that are coming up for renewal in September, I can click it and this will take me to the Reports tab you see on the left hand side here.

These reports are very configurable. You can change the way you view the data and how you filter as well."


If I wanted to go configure this column to highlight contract type and internal owners. Let's just say I only care about MSA’s expiring in September, so I can filter that down so I only see those MSAs.

So now that I have a finished report highlighting the three key contracts I need to be aware of, I can, if needed, export this out to CSV files or PDF reporting.

I can easily toggle with the dates and ownership if I want to have a more detailed overview of things, but this is just to give you that quick visibility into what you need.

The key thing to highlight at this stage is that the filters and column configuration is actually sticky. And what I mean by sticky is that it basically memorises your setup for each user. So if another user logs in, they also have the reports tailored to what they want to view so they can see exactly what they need really really quickly."


Now what I want to do next is actually go and show you how we can drive action and act on the data that we have. So I want to show you "Events".

First things first, I'm going to go into this contract record here. For those of you that don't use Gatekeeper yet, a contract record is designed to give you a very high level overview of your metadata associated with that contract – usually spend supplier dates and times.

Obviously we do have some colours to help you focus on things that are overdue, for example. As I scroll down you can also see hierarchy and the master documents of the final executed version.

And along the top of the record you will see all these different tabs. So if I wanted to see the executed version and other files associated with it, such as DPAs and certifications, I have access to that here. But what I want to focus on is the "Events" area.

An event is basically a task. You can see a list of tasks associated with this contract record and who it's been dedicated to."


It's a great way to keep on top of people. And if I want to add something to show you how this works, I'm going to assign a category for the event type. This is just by default, but we can have you configure your own if you need to keep it as contract review. I want to allocate this to my colleague, Sarah and want this to end next month.

So if I were to save this as is, this is just going to send a single event to Sarah and she'll get an email notification and you'll also get a notification in this bar at the top.

But what I want to do is click on Advanced Settings and maybe it can tell me a little better.

I want to show you approvals and repeating cadence within these events because if I have a junior team, or something happening in turn to allocate someone to, I may want to set those approvals in place. So if I set myself as an approver. 

As this is an annual review, I want this to repeat every 12 months although we could do it every few weeks, every few months, and yearly. Once I've set that up for one year, it's just going to keep going forever until this contract is terminated.

And the other value of having something like this is that, without a system, people in Legal or contract management will often use Slack messages or send emails to manually chase people to get their response to help with renewals. 

Not only does Gatekeeper allocate tasks and help them have a to-do list, but this will do the chasing for you as well."


So if I took over this particular one here, this will send a notification to Sarah every three days when the task is overdue. If I need to, I can also toggle this button here which will send me a notification so I can put some extra pressure on and follow up on that as well.

This will help you allocate a task, have the approval logic, have a repeating cadence and chase for you.

I can see a list of all the events associated with this contract and the one I just added with a new review in progress and it's repeating every year.

So hopefully this is giving you a pretty good high level overview of how you can use dashboards to keep on top of your renewals and use events to allocate tasks and periodic reviews.

As I said at the start, you don't have to be in Gatekeeper to keep on top of renewals. So James will now show you how to set up the workflows and keep that control without you being inside of it.

How to set up workflows


JI:
Thanks, Richard. So what we're going to look at now is a Gatekeeper workflow board where all the configuration has been done directly via the Gatekeeper application UI, meaning you can leave this call and in your own Gatekeeper tenant go and create a version of this for yourself.

For those unfamiliar with it, Gatekeeper's workflow engine operates using the “Kanban” process methodology. This is a Japanese term, which roughly translates to visual board.

Kanban was originally conceived by Toyota back in the 1940s to improve their manufacturing processes and in recent years, it's been adopted by many industries as a highly efficient method for improving processes by visualising the work."


A classic combined example is a to-do list consisting of three columns or phases as we call them and Gatekeeper to represent the status of your to-do list items.

ContractApprovalWorkflow-1Gatekeeper's Workflow capabilities

Each item in the to-do list is a card that travels from left in the two columns through the actions or the doing column to the right in the done column, thereby giving that visual representation of the work in motion.

And whether or not you know the name Kanban, if you've seen applications like Trello, you'll have seen similar swim lane layouts like this.

But what I’m going to show you today will demonstrate some of the tools available for managing a renewal process.

This is obviously more advanced than the three phase prototype we saw previously since this is a more complex process we’re overseeing.

However, workflows and Gatekeeper can be configured to be as long or as short as needed. We do have clients with much simpler versions from this as you can see in this real workflow. None of that transitional or action logic from the diagram is visible at the top level.

It's all been stored in the underlying configuration so that users and overseers can focus on the cards themselves, which are moving throughout this process.

In this workflow what we want to demonstrate is some simple examples of the functions you can configure to take you from a contract pulling onto the workflow going through to its reviews and actions before ending up in this final renewal complete column.

Before we even dig into this process itself and these interacting phases, we can look at how you can set up Gatekeeper to manage the monitoring side of your contract renewals.

One thing you may have noticed in that previous diagram, and this is something Richard alluded to earlier, was an action sitting outside the workflow. This was a representation of a step taken by the Gatekeeper trigger system to start the ball rolling for you.

In this “Workflow Triggers" section, a workflow administrator can set up some predefined logic for the workflow to self initiate and the obvious selections for a contract renewal workflow would be based on the contract end dates or the contract termination notice dates.

We're not really going to get into the details with this, but you can see that there is some configurable logic in place for this workflow.

My example workflow is set to monitor the end dates and, 90 days before that end date occurs, it's set to initiate the process sending out notifications to start a review.

This tool is what I like to call a “set it and forget it”. So once you've decided on that initiation workflow, Gatekeeper’s automating polling system will check your metadata records regularly throughout the day, meaning that you can focus on other tasks."


Once Gatekeeper picks up a contract today and the date fits our previous criteria, it will pull that contract on to the workflow and it will automatically notify these dynamic contract owners of a required action on their part.

The workflow notification engine will automate an email, like this one, which will provide some information to the recipient on the process which is underway.

Add the link to get started and enter the workflow card.

Again, you'll remember Richard's point earlier. This means they don't have to be logging into Gatekeeper regularly to check their records. The system will notify them when there's an upcoming renewal.

A key element to the renewal process or to any contract management process is capturing decisions and information from key stakeholders."


And in this workflow, we can see that the initial form has a selection of choices to make by selecting from these predefined drop downs: context-to-capture using free text orientated fields and the material to supply such as form contract documents or compliance attachments.

In a renewal scenario, these will provide both useful reference information for the process collaborators, as well as providing the materials to store against future contract records.

Once the question has been submitted by the contract stakeholder, we see it moving over to the review phase owned by the Procurement team to begin chapter two of collecting any necessary approvals or information.

Application teams here have the option to hit reject which will send the card back to that contract owner to provide updates. And this reasons box here can also be configured to send a comment to that owner via email so they understand exactly what's needed

Alternatively, if the Procurement team is happy to proceed they can update the form to make the decisions on what will actually happen with the record.

Generally being the true Gatekeepers of any contracts, they have the option to dictate on updating the contract and extending it or updating the contract and terminating it - effectively off-boarding it in the system."


Here we'll see the Procurement user is happy with an extension. So it will select this option from the drop down before continuing.

And as with the contract owners phase, Procurement have been given their own fields to provide attachments and notes to complement their decision, including the option to request an eSignature.

When they are finished with their form they can save and approve the renewal to push it along in the workflow. After they push the form onwards, we reach the point where a conditional review may take place.

To ensure checks are in place for the higher value contracts, we can configure conditional transitions to request final sign off from executives or the CEO for contracts which meet certain criteria.

And in this case, the threshold for requiring sign off has been set to $1 million and above. And as with the other phases, they wouldn't have to be logging into Gatekeeper regularly to check for this, Gatekeeper would send them an email when their input is required.

So upon entering the form, they'll get the chance to review the contract information and the stakeholder decisions before giving their approval.

As an aside, this isn't to say that the CEO can't login proactively to view his approvals. If I use Patrick here with a login and visit his dashboard, as we see here, he can view all open approvals, which are currently with him. And this can serve as a nice alternative to following those individual email notifications per approval.

We find this is particularly useful for users you'd like to allocate time blocks to for their approvals or admin, or if you want to be able to come to one place to see all the cards in their personal list."


For the contracts being renewed, the renewal process wouldn't really be complete without collecting signatures to wrap up and confirm all parties are in agreement here as part of the path for renewing the contract.

We have an eSignature phase looped in, and more information about our native e-signature was covered in this previous webinar but here are the workflows. You can see it will be a relatively simple action.

In this example we can choose a new contract document which was attached to the form earlier. You can see that the contract we're renewing will be the host record where the document will be stored for later viewing, then choose its signers wearing any sign administrator hat. I'm going to request the internal signature from Richard.

And since we already had stored both internal and external contact information, I can select Victor Vendor as the external signer then hit request.

Once all the signatures are collected, Gatekeeper will handle the automatic moving of the card on to the next phase for us and here is where we get to the penultimate chapter where actions are taken in Gatekeeper and to cast our minds back to that procurement phase.

You remember that we gave the users two options to choose from: to extend or to terminate?

In this workflow we've configured what we call "Workflow Actions" where information and materials captured on the workflow can be published back to our central source of truth, reflecting these renewal decisions on this phase, so phase owners can come in and hit “Update contract”.


Then hitting this button will take us into a new screen allowing us to view the fields which can be amended.

The current contract data changes, which may have been suggested throughout the form, and then the final contract data which we have is published into Gatekeeper.

This final column here will be used to capture any necessary extension details, notably things like the end dates, which presumably will move on by a year and then any changes and values in terms of necessary.

Once the changes have been made, the user can hit “Update” to publish them. Then, signifying the final step of the process, moving our card over to the “Done Pile” completing the workflow.

Once we're there, we can see that the contract owner has been reassigned the card so they will receive a notification that the process is all done and dusted.

We have that top level oversight of the card being done and having collected a complete eSignature as well.

So as nice and simple as that process was, obviously it was a very idealistic scenario where all users were acting in good time and were able to submit that feedback straightaway, which in turn meant that no other parties were delayed or rushed to complete tasks.

We appreciate, though, that some tasks can slip through the cracks and stakeholders may not find the time to act on all their cards or may simply forget.

To account for this, we have a workflow SLA timer function which can be configured to designate when a card would become overdue at each stage of the process."


Here we can see that each card on the first phase has a timer indicating how long is left into the workflow classes as it is overdue, and the way this feature can be used is a toggle on the top of this workflow board.

Here, I can switch my view from "All Workflow Cards" to "SLA Overdue Workflow" cards and as you can see, this narrows down to those renewals which are taking longer than expected, and it can even show us where bottlenecks are in the process. This is obviously very useful from an oversight perspective, and is actually a feature which can expand on the automation of the process here.

Many of our clients use these SLA overdue timers to drive transitions throughout the workflow, often escalating cards which are involved in time sensitive processes.

So hopefully you have got a good glimpse into the collaboration, which can be facilitated in Gatekeeper and how by splitting up the decisions the reviews the actions and the work involved in managing an end to end renewal.

It doesn't need to be one department's full time job. It doesn't need to be a pain to keep track of when you have a well built workflow engine. You can have a contract renewal process which saves time, saves money and results in clear, well maintained contract records."


RR: Cool, thanks. James, so I know we've gone through quite a few areas here. So just a quick recap of what we should have covered and so

Hopefully you will walk away seeing why you need to act. With the dashboards and reports and the events section, you know how to proactively keep on top of renewals and hopefully with James' section you know how to start to automate that process and maintain that control.

Q&A Session

Q: Can Gatekeeper handle negotiations with the vendor during the Contract renewal process?

A: Yes it can! There are two solutions we provide for this, depending on the process you wish to perform:

  • Our native eNegotiate feature for contract version drafting & negotiations: See previous webinar.
  • Vendor Portal module which allows counterparty users to log into a restricted version of Gatekeeper and provide input on a workflow.

Q: Can we see total expenditure with a vendor/on a contract when renewing?

A: In The Vendor data view (which you can click to from a workflow form) you get summary information across the top of total contract values, as well as a Contracts data tab for a repository summary.

Also, our Spend Module users will get access to breakdowns here of total vs forecasted spend with a particular counterparty.

Q: Can we see the audit of previous renewals for a record in Gatekeeper?

A: In a contract’s Forms tab, you will see an audit trail of any workflows in which that contract was reviewed, meaning you can retroactively visit a ""Done"" workflow card to see who approved & actioned it.

In a standard contract's Forms history, what you would likely see is a “Contract Request” workflow entry with the who/when/why of the contract being added.

You may also then see one or many contract renewal reviews, depending on its length.

Q: Can we only use End Date for Renewal workflow triggers?

A: Not at all. First, the 2 most common dates to use are End Date as we saw, or (for better time allowances for termination) Notice Period Date.

Second, and we touched on it briefly in the demo, but some of our clients store “Evergreen” contracts where there is no fixed end date, and for these we can configure triggers based on annual anniversaries of the start date so you still have that regular automated review.

And third, some of our clients capture multiple date fields as Custom Data using Gatekeeper’s customisable data model, and these bespoke dates can also be used to trigger workflows.

Q: Can Gatekeeper automatically update contracts based on dates?

A: At present, our users manage this using the “Auto-Archive” feature to maintain the admin of setting their records to expired in the repository when the end date passes. Soon will be coming on workflows: Auto Actions which can automatically update metadata.

Q: Really like the set and forget, but our needs for the workflow are much less involved we really just need a notification to the contract owner. Can this be supported?

A: Absolutely! And we do find that for some our customers who don’t have such a formalised process, they only want Gatekeeper to manage the automated monitoring process, so their workflows are much shorter than the one we just saw.

Q: We have perpetual contacts but still want to review them every 12 months. How can this be done?

A: Yes, Gatekeeper allows workflows to utilise the Start Date anniversary as a trigger point so you can perform annual reviews of your evergreen contracts.

Q: We actually use AdobeSign, can we still use them with this workflow?

A: For sure, if it’s the case that you want to sign outside and then store your document in Gatekeeper, you can simply configure a workflow form to receive attachments as a form field and upload your adobe document here.

Obviously though, since eSign is native to Gatekeeper, we recommend using that in our application since it works more smoothly and allows for a better audit trail. All Gatekeeper plans come with unlimited eSign senders and signers.

Q: How much do workflows cost?

A: In Gatekeeper, Workflows are included as standard in all plans, with the quota increasing as you move up in plan levels.

The setup of these workflows can be self-managed. However, we do configure workflows during onboarding and have options available post onboarding, so reach out to your Gatekeeper representative to discuss the options.

(Not available in ContractNow.)

Q: Will there be in the future any automatic synchronisation between contact's end date and its status change from live to archived?

A: Yes, each contract has an auto-archive setting. When the flag is set to “yes” this will automatically change the status from Live to Archive and you can inform the Contract Owner X days before this happens.

Q: Can you have multiple approvers?

A: We touched on this in his Workflow demonstration where you saw the option to configure conditional approvals based on contract information. In Events though, only one approver can be chosen.

Q: Is this functionality in ContractNow or only in the full Gatekeeper system?

A: Workflows are not included in our ContractNow offering but are included in all Gatekeeper Plans.

Q: How does this integrate with projects?

A: Currently, Projects are not able to be created or updated via workflows.

Q: How does this integrate with projects?

A: Currently, Projects are not able to be created or updated via workflows.

So just a final thing and you can always reach out to your Gatekeeper representative for additional information and questions. And as mentioned earlier, we will be sending out a recorded version of the session.

We will also be sending out some bonus tips from our resident expert, Rod. He shares his top tips for negotiating renewals. Thank you to everyone for attending this webinar. Like I said, I think it's lunchtime or dinner time for you guys so wherever you are in the world. I hope you stay safe and well. Thank you very much.

Ian Bryce
Ian Bryce

Ian writes on a variety of topics, bringing together his own knowledge and experience with that of industry experts.

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