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How to approach vendor and contract reporting
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One of the major elements of the vendor and contract management process is reporting. It offers easy access and clear visibility to the large amounts of data collected during contract operations and management activities.

From the boardroom to the storeroom, different parts of your business will have different requirements and reasons for what vendor and contract reporting they need. There can be a lot riding on everybody getting the information they require when they need it, not only easily but also accurately.

The reporting capabilities found in modern Vendor and Contract Lifecycle Management (VCLM) software:

  • Provides the required visibility of vendor and contract data
  • Facilitates targeted reporting in areas such as risk, spend and performance
  • Delivers essential insights for various stakeholders for accurate and informed decision-making

This article outlines a simple process to help you prioritise areas of vendor and contract management reporting and deliver reports succinctly to your stakeholders.

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How to approach vendor and contract management reporting

To start with, engage with your business’s vendor and contract management stakeholders to understand and document:

  • The specific data they’re interested in and how it aligns with business goals
  • How important it is to them to have access to that information and why
  • How they want it to be presented, how quickly and how often

Armed with this knowledge, you can determine what should be prioritised.

Engaging with your CFO, for example, may reveal that they want a quarterly report of vendor performance and contract compliance, including a summary of the top five vendors by spending, comparing current and previous quarters.

They’re interested in key performance indicators (KPIs) such as on-time delivery, quality score, service level compliance and any cost savings achieved.

This information helps the CFO understand vendor reliability, manage costs, and ensure the company's contracts are effectively supporting its operation

Establish Reporting Importance

Use the MoSCoW method to identify each stakeholder’s individual reporting requirements as:

  • Must-Have: essential reports for core business operations and compliance
  • Should-Have: valuable reports for improved decision-making
  • Could-Have: desirable reports for specific needs

Focus on Must-Haves and Should-Haves. Consider Could-Haves as options for later as resources allow.

Assign Initial Reporting Priority

Setting an initial priority has two elements using a high-low setting:

  • Impact: the value a report is expected to deliver, based on its essential purpose. A high-impact report might disclose the number of contracts due for termination on the same day next month, which might cause a resourcing problem if proper planning isn’t applied. A low-impact report could show how many orders IT has placed with a particular vendor this year.
  • Effort: the estimated difficulty of developing a report. A low-effort report can be prepared using just the captured information, such as a list of contracts with a termination date in the next calendar month. A high-effort report might need to incorporate totals or percentage calculations of different types based on recorded numbers, or perform some conversion to produce plain language descriptions from numbered codes, such as reporting the number ‘64’ as ‘EU Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA)’.

Concentrate on high-impact, low-effort reports for quick wins. High-impact, high-effort reports should be evaluated carefully for their return on investment, and prioritised accordingly. Low-impact, low-effort reports might be considered if the impact justifies the effort.

Schedule Report Development

Prepare a report development sequence to provide some order among reports having the same initial priority setting, or where any dependencies exist between requirements that might influence sequencing.

Obtain stakeholder feedback on the first pass of this schedule. Advise them about the prioritisation method employed and its underlying rationale.

Remind them of resource limitations on developing complex reports, the difficulties in ensuring the availability of the necessary information, and how importance is a relative measure at the bigger picture level.

Make any justifiable and worthwhile adjustments to the report development schedule, ensuring no unintended consequences will occur downstream.

Reporting with Vendor and Contract Management Dashboards

VCLM software like Gatekeeper uses dashboards to provide a real-time bird’s-eye view of your business’s vendor and contract management landscape. They often have a drill-down capability to show the underlying details.

Useful for overview-level understanding and critical for informed decision-making, these details might include business-wide or personal preferences of details about:

  • Contracts: number of active contracts, total annual value with breakdown by spend category, number due to renew or terminate during a fixed or variable period starting three months earlier (to show anything not yet done)
  • Risk: based on risk type and category details pertinent to specific vendors, complete visibility into your business’s risk management process can be revealed. Risks can be shown by vendor, risk type and risk status. Risk levels can be calculated from risk probability and impact ratings, and a heat map prepared from such data. Integrated third-party risk intelligence feeds can also be used to highlight changes to monitored vendors’ risk status from financial and cybersecurity viewpoints
  • Spend: leveraging your Accounts Payable data to compare forecast to actual spend against vendor and contract records can highlight deviations from intentions at an invoice line level, providing fine control over expenditure with vendors
  • Vendor performance: tracked against KPIs established in each of its contracts with your business, a selected vendor’s current performance can be measured using Balanced Scorecards, Smart Forms, automated surveys and comparisons against other relevant vendors, and also compared against its own previous performance measurements to show how it is trending
  • Vendor and contract workflows: a visual presentation of all vendor and contract-associated activities highlights what actions are still required in any process, where there are any delays and who is responsible, allowing those responsible for downstream activities to escalate the resolution of problems

A screenshot of Gatekeeper's risk module that shows concentration of risk and RAG statusGatekeeper's dedicated Risk dashboard helps you to prioritise next steps

Examples of Data for Vendor and Contract Management Reporting


Contract Management Metrics: A general set of monthly and year-to-date measurements of different value to different stakeholders, including:

    • number of active contracts and annual growth rate
    • number of vendors and annual growth rate
    • number of vendor and contract management staff
    • ratios of contracts and vendors to contract management staff
    • number of new contract requests and new contracts executed
    • number of contracts terminated for cause, for convenience, and non-renewal
    • average time to negotiate a contract, and to execute it
    • ratio of your business’s contract terms accepted as-is vs negotiated
    • overall level of contract obligations compliance
    • overall level of regulatory obligations compliance
    • user satisfaction levels with contract management processes
    • number of risk incident occurrences that affected your business
    • number of regulations applicable to your business and its vendors
  • Financial Data: total contract value, vendor spend to date, and average payment period compliance level
  • Key Dates: Deadlines for various contract milestones, commencement of contract-related activities, and contract end dates
  • Current totals relating to:
    • contracts: number active, total value, ended this month, new this month
    • vendors: number active and total spend this year, number terminated this month and new this month
    • Regulatory Compliance: overall level of compliance by your business and by its vendors with each of the top 10 most applicable regulations and standards
  • Risk Management: the top 10 most common potential risks related to contracts and vendors facing your business with a medium-to-high probability of occurrence
  • Vendor Performance Metrics:
      • vendor performance against contracted service level agreements regarding quality and timeliness
      • compliance with other contractual obligations
      • ease of doing business with
      • level of continuous improvement achieved

Wrap-up

Using any vendor and contract management technology that doesn't allow for easy reporting is akin to driving in a severe thunderstorm without working windscreen wipers: you’re a danger to yourself and others when you can’t see where you’re going or what’s coming at you from which direction.

This lack of visibility impedes informed decision-making, increases risk exposure, and can lead to operational inefficiencies and compliance issues, among other undesirable outcomes.

Reporting about what matters most has to take priority over localised and individual notions of what’s important to report.

Effective reporting that’s easy to do is essential for navigating the complexities of vendor and contract management and helping to ensure that your business stays on course.

If you would like more information about how to develop your prioritised approach to contract reporting, or how Gatekeeper can assist with that activity, then contact us today.

Rod Linsley
Rod Linsley

Rod is a seasoned Contracts Management and Procurement professional with a senior IT Management background, specialising in ICT contracts

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