POPIA from a Contract Management Perspective

Personal information has been defined by the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (“POPIA”) as information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person, and where it is applicable, an identifiable, existing juristic person. The act goes in to further depth in Section 1 (a) to (h).

With the inconceivable rise of free flow of information over the internet, the popularity of social media, high rising identity theft and other intrusions on the privacy of individuals, state leaders world-wide have become increasingly concerned with the purposes for which organisations collect personal information, why they keep it, and how they protect it.

Over the last years, South African legislators have been able to draw on privacy as well as personal information policies and directives developed and experience acquired in other countries, thus selecting the best of the best for our South African privacy legislation. South African legislators have risen to astonishing heights with the European Union following South African legislation in the similar and soon to be enacted General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

The purpose of POPIA is to ensure that all South African corporates, state institutions, government departments and other persons who access private personal information, conduct themselves in a responsible manner when collecting, processing, storing and sharing another person’s (“Person” includes “Juristic” persons) personal information by holding them liable should they misuse or compromise your personal information in any way.

The challenge for organisations irrespective of their size is one of compliance. The requirements outlined by the act will have a significant impact on the way they do business.

Organisations, unrelated to their business trading, collect personal information daily. Each drafted, negotiated and signed off contract (all types) contains personal information of a natural or juristic nature. The information contained in these said contracts will therefore fall under scrutiny of adequate consent, data processes and security followed, these being the most pivotal requirements contained in POPIA.

POPIA demands very stern compliance requirements relating to the protection of information. Failure of compliance by an organisation with the requirements stipulated in POPIA could not only result in lawsuits and reputational damage but also a cumbersome fine from the Information Regulator.

The Act states that organisations must “identify all reasonably foreseeable internal and external risks to personal information in its possession or under its control”. We have most certainly begun our journey in the 4th industrial revolution in which personal information has become a “risk” in so far as non-consented acquisition of information from a data subject or spillage due to low security or security breaches.

Procurement departments, Human Resources departments, Legal departments, Personnel Recruitment, Retail as well as the education sector are only some of the high-risk verticals in which the acquisition, process, utilisation and storage security of personal information must be urgently addressed and reviewed to ensure compliance.

In this very fast paced 4th Industrial Revolution, IT systems have become the lifeline of all businesses today, with organisations IT departments becoming the corner stone of successful businesses. POPIA has added personal information to the departments bouquet of responsibilities.  In light of POPIA, King IV, the Companies Act of 2008 and the imminent enactment of the Cyber Crime Bill, the clock is ticking for organisations to actively seek to not only educate themselves on IT systems that are required to ensure compliance but also the ROI on such systems, as it will be far greater than reputation alone.

Mitigate your organisations risk of non-compliance, contact Realyst Contract Risk Management Pty Ltd, for a secure, compliant and efficient Contract Management Solution

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Written by Jill Trösser




Going Paperless in Schools and Universities

There have been many discussions around digitization, paper wastage and inefficient administrative services. Let’s delve into three areas where we see the most improvement that could easily be made by education institutions going digital:

  1. Registration

Anyone who has ever had to register for university or register their child at the start of a school year will get a glimpse of the chaos.

It seems that this process is an administrative nightmare for anyone involved.

– Parents, students, teachers and school administration staff. Parents are frustrated that they have to complete the same forms every year, university students dread standing in line for hours to register for their classes and the schools face back-logs.

Imagine if you could complete your registration forms and submit the required document with one click?

You wouldn’t even have to leave the house to apply. Digital registration means less time and money spent on the labour that surrounds manual registration.

  1. Contract Management

With contracts ranging from student enrolments to part-time workers and contractors, schools have a multitude of contracts that need to be centralized and managed. With the potential for financial leakage and legal risk running across so many types of contracts, having a centralized, digital system can save education institutions both time and money.

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  1. Forms on Forms

On top of registering, parents often have other forms that need to be completed and signed throughout the year, such as permission forms and exam registration forms. Imagine, again, if this could be done electronically? No more last-minute requests to sign forms that result in missed outings. No more having to constantly fill in the same information over and over, either!

We envision a world where education institutions can one day be completely paperless.

Do you?

Is the Legal Profession Ripe for Disruption?

What will the commercial profession look like a decade from now?

Expensive, time consuming, labour intensive and inefficient processes are open for disruption.

Let’s look at an example, Ace Limited employs its own internal legal function, one for each business silo, pouring over a multitude of inbound contracts, clause by clause, arguing, compromising, redrafting, collaborating, and finally agreeing with the other party and recommending a contract to the boss for signature. Sometimes they get signed, filed somewhere and forgotten.

Then there is a breach, both parties position themselves, external council is sought, the arguments and positions solidify, ego starts to get in the way on both sides, sue them! Affidavits, summons and eventually a court date is set. More particular of claims and affidavits, more consultations and preparations, see you in Court. The decision goes against us, appeal!

Now step aside and count the cost, in distraction, legal costs, judgement, and the many years it has taken to get a resolution.

This cannot be an efficient and effective way of protecting the business interests, right from the start of exchanging draft agreements.

More damaging to the business is that somewhere all that valuable data sits locked away in paper and a filing cabinet. How many cases, if they get that far, are lost because the original contracts and supporting documentation is lost or destroyed?

Can the internal legal team go from contract gatekeeper to empowering a new level of efficiency, providing executives with valuable business information?


  1. Standardise your agreements
  2. create a clause library of pre-approved acceptable changes
  3. capture the data from the source of the contracting process
  4. integrate it into the documents themselves
  5. automate the signature part, (yes that means they get signed)
  6. comply with delegations of authority through workflow (no one can use the excuse that they were not authorised to sign or can’t find the signed copy) and finally,
  7. file all documentation electronically

Go from reacting to inbound contracts to creating your own standard terms, especially where you have the leverage to do this (Large corporate of Public Sector organisation). Empower the business silo’s to create and sign their own agreements from locked down templates, standardise best practice across silos. Now manage the tasks and obligations in the contract so you nip any possible dispute before it becomes an issue.

10-yearsImagine that Industries have agreed to a set of standard contracts, and the processes are all automated, there is a common dispute settlement body the parties have agreed to use, would that not alleviate 90% of what the legal function does today? Do we not see evidence of this in the many contracts that we sign by simply ticking a box “accepting the terms and conditions”?

Where are you in the digital transformation of the legal function?


Signing contracts or applications in the field

How digitisation can make an impact

Many organisations employ representatives in the field, signing up customers or suppliers. In the past, these agreements or applications were paper based, creating significant administrative and compliance burden.

In the field can be interpreted as any location that is outside the head office support function, either in a branch or store, or by travelling sales representatives or procurement agents.

These paper based functions are no longer necessary in a digital environment.

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Supporting documents can be scanned through mobile smart devices, or laptops and computers.

The impact on the administrative burden is significant, no more waiting for forms to come back to head office, to be scanned and then the data captured into one system or another. These tasks happen digitally from any device, and the data can be automatically routed to where it needs to go.

Revenue is booked sooner, procurement items available quicker.

Protection of personal information legislation is more easily complied with.

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No more lost documents or contracts, half completed, illegible, data capture intensive processes.

All that valuable data is now in a format that will allow detailed reporting and dashboards, new levels of information to drive growth and profitability.




Digitising The Procurement Process

In over a decade of consulting to both private and public sectors, the common thread in contract management is:

digitising procurement 2

In the past many of these issues are a result of the cumbersome nature of paper based systems and manual filing systems. Even scanned images into a document management system falls short, lack of data and disparate filing protocols.


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So let’s sketch out an example of an ideal digital procurement process:

  • The business identifies a need for some goods or service
  • They fill in a simple application form, what its needed for, division, budget, etc.
  • A search is undertaken for any existing suppliers on the database (The supplier should have a full profile, up to date BEE certificates, Financials, product lists, etc.) The supplier should also have the ability to keep this up to date at all times, without burdening the company with additional administration.
  • Contract terms are located and an order placed
  • Terms are signed off by digital signature, records available for different business functions
  • Data is gathered and analysed for strategic procurement initiatives

But what if the goods and services need a new supplier?

  • The supplier application process should be completed by the supplier, with capability to upload supporting documentation
  • Any credit or other checks undertaken, but only once and not every time goods are purchased.
  • A supplier listing (i.e. not necessarily contracted) is kept open for future opportunities
  • Approval workflow governs the onboarding process
  • Once approved a digital contract is automatically populated for digital signature
  • Contracts are stored and shared between parties (in digital identity profiles)
  • Notifications, tasks and obligations are shared.
  • SLA’s are identified and reporting completed and stored via E-Forms, providing a track history of performance and rating.
  • Once the contract expires, the respective files are archived.

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By going digital the procurement function enjoys the following benefits:

  • The governance and compliance issues, lost documents, etc are solved
  • Valuable data becomes visible for reporting and strategic procurement
  • The operation is far more efficient, no more manual drafting of contracts and filing systems
  • Suppliers update their own information, so no clerical work required and manual data capture
  • Contracts can be standardised, and drafted on procurements terms
  • Turn-around times are improved, so goods and services become available quicker
  • Full visibility into the procurement spend
  • Payments only made against a contract, no maverick spend
  • Suppliers are authenticated once, with simple updated information when required
  • Compliance to protection of personal information regulations
  • Data can be passed through to other systems, for example financial for payments.


Digital Contracts


There are a number of definitions and examples, one of the most common is a typical software license agreement, the purchaser is asked to tick a box to accept the terms and conditions, and an electronic agreement is signed. Completed with one click in a fraction of a second.

But not all agreements are signed this way, and it’s worth looking at the old traditional way of drawing a contract and signing it, and the variations in between.

In the “old” days, either a word document or some other contract template would be located, a legal person may even draw the agreement from a clause library or library of standard agreements. These contracts could take days to compile, check and get approved.

The draft document could either be circulated for comment, or where its standard terms and conditions, printed out for signature. The parties would then need to be present somewhere to sign it, at an office, in a branch or by courier.

The parties fill in all the relevant information, (often forgetting or missing a place, initial or signature), either sign one copy, or two if another original was required, initial each page, hold in a filing cabinet, and possibly some form of scanning into a document management system. Then generally forgotten.


Firstly, use standardised application forms and contracts, and digitise them. By this we mean hold the relevant information electronically, that way there is no additional data capture, the same information can be reused, and contracts can be automatically created.

The next step is to sign them electronically (far more robust than trying to decipher someone’s scrawl years later), and the poor CEO is saved from having to sign and initial hundreds of pages every day.

But then it’s what happens next is the real value, the organisation has all this data in an electronic format, to be stored, shared between systems, to set up reminders, tasks and obligations. Management now has insight into the contracts that are being entered into, and the underlying information for trending, risk analysis, reporting, etc. No more lost documents, untraceable authority paths, different terms and conditions. Standard agreements can be routed to the relevant business units, and with contracting happening in an instant, no more delayed booking of revenue of provision of goods.

Digital contracts are relevant across the full spectrum of types of agreements, as are differing levels of digital signatures. From simple mass produced standard agreements through to highly complex negotiated and regulated one’s, filling in pieces of paper in ink and by hand is so “old school”.

Linking of digital identities provides another layer of efficiency, no more collecting of supporting information every time an application or contract is required, the parties have all that information available at the click of a button.


Be smart, move to digital contracting.





How do paper based forms and contracts align with a digital strategy?


How do paper based forms and contracts align with a digital strategy?

The short answer is that they don’t.

Everyone is talking about the new digital age, the value of data, how to improve the customer journey, obtaining an efficient back office… and yet there is still a proliferation of paper based processes.

With today’s technology advancements there is no excuse. Organisations that are slow to change will find themselves offering a poor customer journey compared to their peers. Being ignorant of the immense value that underlying data provides for their business, and therefore losing insight for executive decision making, suffering from corporate amnesia, missing key deliverables and revenue, having a high operating expense making them uncompetitive in their markets.

In today’s time of tight market conditions and the threat of digital disruption, moving from paper based processes to digital is essential, across all industries.

Practically that means relooking at how contracts are created, how many can be standardised, what the benefits of digital signatures are, how to capture the underlying data efficiently and linking it to back office processes.

Considering the lifecycle management of the contract types, from inception of the bidding/business need processes through to contract execution, monitoring and exit.

Understanding the value of the underlying data is important, as well as and how to use it for executives to drive business strategy. A Business needs to also understand how that data is captured and distributed across the organisation, and how many duplicate activities take place.

Imagining a digital customer journey, and what benefits that may bring.

The future of a new business operating model is here, the tools are available, and organisations need to embrace them in order to survive and prosper.

Why is contract management so hard?

For decades now research houses, consultants and software vendors have been preaching the benefits of contract management, often quoting Governance and compliance, collecting all revenue due, shortening the sales cycle, saving money by identifying unwanted contracts, as reasons to adopt a contract management solution or practice.

Simply miss a key date on a strategic contract, and that gets management’s attention, but for the rest it can become a grudge purchase, which is why despite all the good things it brings, adoption levels globally remain relatively low. Just make it someone’s KPI and give legal the responsibility to store the agreements, or for mass consumer agreements, don’t even bother, let the billing system handle it.

The problem with this approach, especially in a paper based environment, is that all that fantastic, valuable data sits in filing cabinets across the organisation. It makes managing the relationships harder, missing key information or dates easier, benchmarking and reporting a major exercise with a proliferation of excel spreadsheets.

But what if we moved away from paper, and thought about capturing this information digitally from the start? Would that not make contract management easier, no more laborious data capture and endless scanning of documents?

Automated processes with digital forms and contracts layered over a contract management database with built in best practice, surely that’s the way of the future?

What could we achieve?

  • An improved customer journey
  • Less back office staff
  • Faster contracting times
  • A contract management system built from daily processes
  • Real time reporting and valuable information

Then it wouldn’t be so hard.

Digital Transaction Management: The link back to contract management

Digital Transaction Management: The link back to contract management
Paul Maddison, Realyst MD

The world is going digital. Organisations are looking at appointing digital executives, a scramble to understand how the new digital world is going to impact their businesses, what the next disruptive technology will be or how the next start-up around the corner will affect them.

But perhaps the first step is to start looking at where the paper exists in the organisations, and the contracting  processes around generating agreements and interactions with both suppliers and customers. New technology and software is allowing the organisation to take paper out of the process to a large extent, online contracting, e-forms and electronic documents are enabling this. The benefits of having this information in a digital format from the start is significant, no more error-strewn data capture from handwritten forms, electronic signatures that are more secure than the hand written or ink-based signature, coupled with document management.

But there is also benefit in then managing the contract beyond the signature, ensuring the parties and all those stakeholders within the organisation (procurement, finance, legal, executives), have access to the information, analytics as well as the base documents. Alerts, tasks and obligations can be automated, and data can be shared between the organisations’ systems for billing, CRM, and other applications.

If the organisation considers that it is actually all their contracts that make up what the company does and how it operates, then it should make sense to get a grip on these relationships. Paper-based operations have significant drawbacks, they are notoriously inefficient, utilising clerks at every step to capture data (I suggest the CEO should simply go around the office and see how much paper is stacked up on desks, and imagine what it would be like if all that information was electronically based, captured once, and what that data would be worth).

Organisations that are going the route of digitising their contracting environment will be more efficient, will see the benefits of quicker turnaround times, will see revenue booked sooner, and better data and analytics coming through. It’s those organisations which make use of the latest technology, that will find customer and supplier relationships improving. A Realyst client, on implementing contract management in the customer space recently commented that the contract management project was the most successful project initiative undertaken by the organisation in the last 5 years, a testimony to the benefit of automating previous paper based processes.

Realyst has seen in its consulting work, some serious deficiencies in the management of paper-based systems, lost documents or agreements (a lot more commonplace than you would think), forgotten end dates and renewal terms, lost opportunities for bulk discounts, collecting additional revenue, and simply not knowing what customers they have apart from what’s in the billing system. Then coupled with this are the risks of fire and water damage. Imagine a fire in a warehouse where tons of agreements are stored, the subject of a recent court case where the plaintiff was unable to produce the documents in the event of non-payment, the court found they had insufficient evidence to proceed against the defendant.

So the challenge of going digital might simply be to start at looking at existing processes and paper, and see how technology and contract management can make the organisation more productive, before the competition finds a way to entice new customers or suppliers by offering more efficient and easier ways of doing business together.

Realyst expands into Nigeria and West Africa

by Sola Akingbade, MD of Realyst Nigeria

The elections this year in Nigeria have ushered in an optimism that the country hasn’t seen for a very long time. The victory of the All Progressives Congress has a number of historically significant features for Nigeria – not least of which is the fact that it is the first truly democratic election since independence, and also because it is the first time that a political party has unseated the governing party peacefully with no military take-over.

The business world is encouraged by the ideals of the new regime, in particular those dealing with curbing corruption and fraud. Some states are already running programmes to put governance processes in place and this will now be incorporated at federal government level and national legislature. This is the perfect time for a company like Realyst to enter the Nigerian market. The awareness of the crucial role that contract management plays will grow as regulation improves and businesses understand the implications of poorly managed contracts.

The experience and knowledge that Realyst incorporates into the product suite places it solidly as a leader in this space as well as the company’s local presence. Realyst’s largest shareholder, Fasyl, holds the software development skills for the contract management software in West Africa, while the bulk of the consultation and implementation skills are based in South Africa. Rotational skills transfer happens on a regular basis though, so support is conducted onsite when necessary.

A significant number of government officials are aware of contract management as a discipline and of its benefits in centralised record keeping. Awareness is also growing in terms of the importance of correctly drafting contracts in the first place, not only from a governance perspective, but also to protect government’s own interests. We intend to do more to influence change of policy and we will be working with government to develop programmes around contract management implementation and tightening contract control.