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?

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.

digitising contracts 3

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.

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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.

 

digitising procurement 4

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.

digitising procurement 3

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.

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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.

Digital Transforms the Game of Business – The Forrester Report

Digital Transaction Management has started emerging as a key solution for businesses wanting to stay in the game. We have touched on this topic before in our previous blogs, and the Forrester report highlights the importance of digital transformation in today’s business.

Forrester conducted an online survey taken by 400 people, and 5 qualitative interviews of IT and Line of Business decision makers from North America, Europe and APAC and found that:

  • Decision-makers understand the importance of digital technologies and what DTM means
  • The need for DTM is evident.
  • Lines of business are losing significant revenue due to poor transaction management.
  • Operational processes are the DTM sweet spot.

Digital Technologies Transform the Game of Business

Digital technology has fundamentally changed two things: the dynamics of the markets in which you operate and the speed needed to remain competitive.

Forrester projects that by 2017, 74% of the US adult online population will own smartphones, and 46% will own tablets – meaning that your clients are now digital. This means that the way they interact and engage with your products has completely changed, so your business model needs to change, as well.

Enterprises are now trying to connect with their clients digitally and they recognize that digital technologies create opportunities to add new services to physical products.

Digital Transaction Management Offers New Benefits to Businesses

“A new category of cloud services designed to digitally manage document-based transactions. DTM removes the friction inherent in transactions that involve people, documents, and data to create faster, easier, more convenient and secure processes.”

Business leaders are starting to recognise the difference between traditional automation and Digital Transaction Management – the key difference being that DTM is customer facing. One study found the following:

  • Decision-makers acknowledge the need for a DTM solution.
  • IT decision-makers perceive a higher level of digital adoption than do LOB decision-makers.

So What’s The Big Deal With Digital?

“By taking on DTM, we were able to increase the volume of processing without adding heads. So there’s the DTM value: cost, productivity, and cycle time.”

Senior director at a US-based computer software, hardware, and consumer electronics organization

Digitization drives efficiency

It eliminates costs, allows for faster changes, and improves your customer experience. Human error has been marked as the top issue clients encountered with their analogue processes, and paper-based document management and lack of security play a large role in customer dissatisfaction.

Poor transaction management contributes directly to revenue loss

Ninety-eight percent of companies reported some revenue impact of poor transaction management. Revenue hits come in the form of lost deals, prospects that abandon on-boarding processes, disjointed experiences that create poor customer satisfaction, and lost business due to the lack of self-service and direct-to-consumer digital platforms.

Costs and lack of skills are primary barriers to digitization

Security, compliance and privacy were ranked by a large majority of the respondents as the leading concerns regarding DTM. But when our respondents were asked about the roadblocks to enabling digital transactions, they said that the real barriers going forward are cost concerns and a lack of digital skill sets.

What Can Your Business Digitize?

“Primary drivers are governance and security, and also safeguarding the revenue of the business.”

Managing director at a recruitment firm

Sales, HR, finance, order processing, legal, procurement, and field service are all great focal spots for expanding your company’s use of DTM. Note the following considerations when starting an approach to digitization:

  • Efficiency, security, and customer experience drive digital transformation.
  • Decision-makers are most interested in digitizing operational processes.
  • The need for DTM extends across functional roles.
  • Almost all roles and departments have room for further digitization.
  • DTM benefits consumers.

Key Recommendations

  • Act in 2015 to avoid falling behind more digitally savvy competitors.
  • Define clear sponsorship and functional leadership of digital transformation.
  • Build an iterative road map that moves you toward digital mastery.
  • Stay in step with emerging digital trends.
  • Plug the skills gap.

Realyst’s Thoughts

Realyst has long been in the industry of digitizing processes. We recognised the need for this when we started our Contract Management software back in 2002. Digital Transaction Management is without a doubt the future of the successful organisations. Organizations that embrace the digital future can speed up their contracting process, lower operating costs, reduce errors, and provide a superior customer experience.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage your digital information and take your company to the next digital level!

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Resources

March 2015 Forrester Report – Digital Transforms the Game of Business – Digital Transaction Management Emerging As Key Solution

Contract Management and the protection of Personal Information Acts

As a result of the large amounts of information being shared around the world, there are now are various pieces of legislation that have been put into place to protect personal information. The level of protection and the information protected varies depending on the Country or state, or groups of Countries as in Europe – these laws dictate user sharing of information as well as how companies and organisations can hold and use that information.

The fundamental obligations on organisations where legislation already exists can be summarized as:

  1. Only collect information that is needed for a specific purpose
  2. Apply reasonable security measures to protect it
  3. Ensure it is relevant and up to date
  4. Only hold as much as you need, and for as long as you need it
  5. Allow the subject of the information to see it upon request
  6. The subjects have the right to request, on demand, the erasure of the information, including any copies, links or replication.

Practically, any organisation that has paper based systems will find these requirements very difficult to uphold. In our research and consulting work, merely finding contracts and documents can be a challenge – let alone knowing where all the underlying information exists. And for those organisations that work in silos and are regionally dispersed, it would take a herculean effort to find it all, organise it and make the information visible.

Digitising the processes, from collecting the information, to storing it in a structured database, and then tracking and auditing the use of it, encrypting it, and then using it to contract or communicate, all falls within the ambit of a mature Contract Management System capability.

So if your organisation is struggling with the requirements of storing and keeping your customers information (individuals or organisations) in line with legislation, either existing or upcoming, we would like to open up a discussion. Contact us today so we can discuss the effects of these laws and digitization on your company, and how we can help you become part of the Digital Revolution.

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Digitising and automating the contract management process

Practically, let’s step back and take a look at how most organisations manage their contracting cycle. To do this, we will be using the sales process as an example.

Each organisation has a sales force. Typically, the sales team go out in the field with paper-based contracts covering a large geographical area, travelling long distances to see and sign up clients (although, with new technology and people more readily buying online, the travelling salesperson is already under threat). The team then return to their regional offices days (possibly weeks) later with the signed contracts. The contract details are captured by the admin departments, which then send the details to accounts for billing. Once this is completed, then only are the goods or services distributed. Thereafter, the contracts are filed, administration draws up reports on sales volumes, and someone tries to manage the information on an Excel spreadsheet, in an attempt to track key dates or tasks.

Let’s now go through this process for an organisation that is digitally aware so that we can understand the impact technology can have, while assuming a sales force still exists. The sales person, with his tablet, smart device, or laptop, visits to sign up new a new client. This is now done online with a contract that is automatically generated (using background office processes if required). The contract is signed digitally, and the contract data is automatically sent to the regional offices. Administration can now manage the data, accounts can process the billing and operations can send out the goods and services quickly and efficiently. This saves time, paper and additional costs required to manage a paper-based contracting process.

We can now asses how this affects management. The data is stored in a Contract Management System – alerts, notifications and reporting will be instantly available to managers. No more excel spreadsheets, incorrect data capture, and mismanaged controls resulting in lost revenue. To further improve efficiency, integration occurs into CRM, ERP and other systems, so that only one version of data is used.  Security, rules and delegations of authority exist, with built in audit trails exist. And because that data sits in a structured database, it’s accessible, secure, and valuable, with analytics and business intelligence tools sitting on top.

And what industries can benefit? Since all industries and Government organisations enter into contracts, it affects anyone who transacts with another organisation. The contracts or interactions can be in the form of purchase orders, quotes, standard terms and conditions, or more complex large negotiated contracts – all of which can pass through a contract management system.

Aberdeen Research reported that through an automated contract management approach, and organisation can expect to book an additional 1 to 2% of revenue, and for most organisations that represents a fair amount of money. Unfortunately, however, due to a lack of efficiency in process management and digitization, many organisations suffer a loss. Through an implementation of a digital contracting system at any level, companies can save time, money, resources and minimize risks. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how your company can join the Digital Revolution through digital contracting.

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What is Contract Management? | Request a Demo | Contact Realyst