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.