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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Thoughts and Future Trends in Digitisation From World Economic Forum In Davos 2015

In an article by the wefmediateam discussing how technology is disrupting markets, the Financial Industry workgroup of a year ago described the mood around digitization. Their conclusion was that people and organisations are in denial, largely due to the highly regulated nature of the industry. Innovation in the industry a year ago was almost taboo. This year, however, it is very different. There is now an acknowledgement that innovations that address duplication of effort and information should be welcomed. Knowing your customer and understanding your data and inefficiencies; recording customer management and the emergence of smart contracts are all on the agenda now. If the financial industry does not address these issues, tech based companies certainly will.

Mobile technology poses a thread that could be the unbundling of banking with its immediacy to clients and relationships – as well as its ability to serve as a channel for payments. When the financial industry isn’t addressing a need, it is open to disruptions that will intercept this opportunity. Since we are moving into an era where winner takes all, the organisation that takes action first is likely to come out on top. In a further article looking into the future of technology, it was stated that the world is at the cusp of incredible opportunity, relieving us of the repetitive tasks that can be modelled and precisely formulated to be automated. This frees us to deal with the exceptions, the management and forecasting – focusing our energy, imagination and intelligence on the next frontiers.

The subject of privacy, protecting personal identities and consumers being increasingly wary about what is being done with their data is being brought to the forefront. With big data, comes big responsibilities and these responsibilities rest with the Institutions, not the consumer, and business leaders must demand a security-first attitude from their organisation. We at Realyst, with our technology partners, are taking the opportunity to introduce a new platform for smart contracts, addressing many of the issues raised in the challenges of big data and customer record management. 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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Global trends and the impact of digitisation on the organisation

The world is facing significant economic changes, with reduced growth rates, aging populations, the risk of stagnation, declining consumer spending and rising unemployment only being a few of the problems we are experiencing.

Against this background, organisations are now presented with the risk of disruptive technologies – technologies that are opposing their traditional operating models and offering a new way of doing business, while trying to extract further growth from their companies.

The world is digitising at a rapid rate, but it’s being consumer driven through the application economy. Unfortunately, traditional business and particularly government, is being slow in adopting some of the opportunities new technologies present.

There are now significant forces driving efficiency and productivity that organisations can no longer afford to ignore. The graph below represents a view on expected global growth, its impact on employment and that organisations need to be more efficient to survive.

graph

Digitizing manual processes combined with automation and improved access to data will be one of the major drivers in achieving the productivity rate organisations need to stay competitive. Business and Government need to apply their minds as to how these technologies will impact their organisations.

Smart contracts, data automation and digital profile solutions are what Realyst and our technology partners focus on. We specialise in automating the Contract Management process, and can help your business become part of the Digital Age. Contact us today to find out more.

Contact Realyst today to see how we can help you improve your contract management and quote-to-cash cycle so you can focus on tasks that will bring your company success, while knowing you are saving your company money and your clients time.

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Digitisation and E-Signatures: A New Age

There have been many articles written and many discussions had over the upcoming Digital Revolution and its effects on business – particularly with regards to digitizing processes and efficiency. The Second Machine Age by Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee discusses these concepts in depth and gives interesting insights into our digital futures.

One aspect of this change that concerns us all is how it affects the law – what constitutes a contract in this new Digital Age? What forms of communication and acceptance of terms indicates a valid and binding agreement? How does this affect how various regulations are tested by case law?

In the first case of its kind in South Africa, the Supreme Court of Appeal held that emails sent between two parties relating to a contract where both parties signed their names at the end were sufficient to cancel a contract, that had the provision for cancellation only in writing and signed by both parties .

The case stated that “The question is whether the method of signature fulfils the function of identifying the signatory, rather than to assist on the form of signature to be used”. This indicates that a physical handwritten signature is no longer a requirement; an electronic version is equally valid.

This has a large impact on the introduction of electronic signatures into business. There are currently 3 different ways that e-signatures are being used commercially:

  1. The Click Wrap. An example of this is when a user ticks the “Accept Terms and Conditions” box when making a transaction online. Generally, the user is identified as the signatory using the details used to log into the site.
  2. Electronic Signatures. When a user physically signs using a stylus or their finger on a digital medium such as a tablet, or a signature pad. This new case law would indicate that this form of a signature would not be required for a binding contract.
  3. Any form that requires a formal authentication process as described in the ECTA.

This affects the digitisation of the contracting process. The way is now open for technology to seamlessly put two parties together so that they can contract electronically – transactions can now be paperless with relative ease. The information would be available digitally for the organisation and end-users to view and manage. This confirms the concepts that any process that is highly repetitive, should be digitised.

Many organisations have been slow to take up electronic signatures and digitisation, claiming that the legal barriers and risks of dispute are too high. This case should break down those barriers and prove that it’s time to embrace our new age: The Digital Revolution.

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References:

Please view the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002
No. 25 of 2002, http://www.internet.org.za/ect_act.html#INTERPRETATION_OBJECTS_AND_APPLICATION, CHAPTER III, FACILITATING ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS Part 1, Point 13.

Revenue Loss – Could your quote-to-cash Cycle be losing you money?

Could your length quote-to-cash cycle be costing you money? Companies often have  a very long waiting period between meeting a potential customer and closing out the deal – which results in a loss of the customer, and money.

Imagine the impact on the bottom line if you could book revenue even just 30 days earlier on every transaction? What if you could remove the bottlenecks for approval and contract drafting? Sales efficiency will be improved dramatically.

In industry terms this is known as shortening the “Quote to Cash” cycle, and contract management can play a large part in achieving this.

Traditionally the sales cycle involves traditional silos of operations, with the sales team out on the road giving the pitch and providing quotes. The legal team then draft contracts and vet the purchasers. The administration and finance team then captures the transaction details and finally invoice the customer.

This cycle can take a long time, frustrating the sales team as commissions take longer, and frustrating customers as their orders take longer to fulfil, and lastly management suffers with potential income that is not coming through due to simple administration management issues.

How Can We Help?

Automating these processes can have a significant revenue impact – a contract management system can easily automate the contract creation process and manage the policies and regulations regarding the Quote-to-Cash cycle.

Contact us today to see how we can help you improve your contract management and quote-to-cash cycle so you can focus on tasks that will bring your company success, while knowing you are saving your company money and your clients time.

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How the Eastern Cape Provincial Government can Save Billions of Rands With Contract Management Strategy

The Eastern Cape Government has recently been embroiled in many scandals surrounding poor service delivery, particularly in the Health Department. There have been reports of hospitals and clinics having a very small number of medical professionals – if any at all. This suggests poor staff management. The medical clinics and hospitals have also reported having no access to medication available – which translates to poor purchase and supply chain management.

This is a result of a long chain of bad management decisions – and it doesn’t end only in financial losses. The unfortunate fact is that many of our citizens are being affected negatively by insufficient health care. People are not getting the medication and medical help required for a healthy nation. Mismanagement of funds is not only in the health sector – children’s educational rights are being infringed upon as funds are being depleted by ghost teachers who are on the payroll.

Having this discussion with the Realyst team it was realized that the majority of the issues the departments are experienced could be resolved with a sound contract management solution. All at once, the government offices are managing and exceptional amount of people and resources – all this is a major task and there is constant risk of human error. A contract management solution would keep tabs on suppliers and resources, ensure deliverables are met and the records are all kept up to date and within standard requirements.

Despite the requirement for South African Government to have contract management solutions in place to manage public resources, there are still a large number of offices running without this valuable service. In Europe and other developed countries, Contract Management Software offered by companies such as Realyst train Contract Management officials and assist in the maintenance of contracts to ensure the right people are hired and the contracted suppliers are meeting required deliverables.

In conclusion, Government Department can not only have time for themselves and the people through using a contract management solution – they could potentially save billions of Rands. There will be no financial leakage or mismanagement of funds, the correct workers and professionals will be paid the right amounts and there will be no unnecessary spending on expired or ghost contracts.

Let’s hope more government offices will realise the need for an accurate system that will help management deliver a much needed service to its pubic.

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Public Sector Contract Management

Why Contract Management for the Public Sector?

There are a few Frameworks from Government entities globally, the OGC in the UK, some work out of Australia, pockets of best practice from the US and SA’s own National Treasury Framework. Each one has a common theme, improving supplier performance, governance of the funds entrusted to it, ensuring value for money and that Governments interest are protected.

Manual Systems and Processes

Much work has been done in SA, particularly in KZN Province and now in Limpopo Province, on establishing manual processes for contract management. These include establishing contract registers, reviewing a sample of existing contracts, establishing standard contracts for a range of supplies and services, developing policy and procedure.

Previously contract management was not an identified discipline, and the results were similar to the private sector, a lack of focus to this important function had a serious detrimental impact, especially with the pressure most African Governments are under for service delivery, none more so than SA.

The impact of the work done on behalf of Treasury in these Provinces has been a highly valuable case study in the practical implementation of the theory of contract management, the risks and exposure from ignoring the functions, and the benefits that arise.

Realyst has been an active panellist on this project from inception.

The Value of the SA National Treasury Framework

The SA NTF for contract management is a very useful starting point for all state entities in reviewing what they need to do in order to comply with good practice. It follows an in depth examination of the links between CM, PFMA, MFMA, a guide to implementation and self-assessment tools.

By complying with the Framework, Government entities will ensure a contract management clean audit.

The Role of Systems in Public Sector Contract Management

Government policy is usually well defined, which enables systems to be aligned and capable of repetition, save that each entity will have different contract types and reporting requirements.

The SA NTF recognises the value of automating the processes underlying these policies, and the value systems can provide Government entities.

In our experience the focus points should be:

  • Document controls, electronic copies and ease of retrieval
  • Establishing contract registers, with defined data per contract type
  • Reporting

Easing the legal burden through automated contract creation and improving drafting quality

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Contract Management

What is Contract Management?

Contract Management refers to the management of all contracts made with another party – whether they are vendors, customers, partners or employees. A Contract Manager is required to support and manage contracts, as well as to negotiate and facilitate contract creation.

Manual Contract Management

Although a software solution for Contract Management enhances the solution immeasurably, even manual processes can be put in place to better the Contract Management in organisations. Processes and procedures can be put into place to ensure contract standardisation, document retention and efficiency. Employees can use these processes to enhance an electronic system.

Digital Contract Management

Digital or online Contract Management allows companies to automate their processes – this has numerous benefits as listed below.

Digital Contract Management refers to the creation, management and monitoring of contracts and their related documents using software. Typical components of our software solution are:

  • Contract Creation
  • E-Signatures
  • E-Forms
  • Document Management
  • Alerting and Notifications
  • Reporting
  • Lack of visibility into contractual commitments
  • Poor document control and record keeping
  • Missing of key dates and events
  • Risks of over-payments
  • Lack of standardisation of agreements, inefficient contract authoring, negotiating and control
  • Poor monitoring of contract progress, verifying payments against deliverables and
  • Inability to enforce rights in the event of a dispute
  • Poor supplier management
  • Lack of contractual information for budgeting purposes
  • Inconsistent approach, no clear policies and guidelines, lack of skills in contract management
  • Allows businesses to monitor spending and thus manage (and reduce) unnecessary expenses
  • Reduces your risks of missing important contractual dates such as expiry dates
  • Provides instant secure access to all existing contracts
  • Reduces the burden on the legal department to vet incoming contracts and draft new ones
  • Quote to cash cycles are reduced dramatically due to the ease of digital contract creation
  • All changes to contracts can be monitored and a full audit trail is available for reference
  • Approval workflow is automated with audit trail
  • All contracts can be electronically stored, which means original documents can be filed away safely while uses still have access to important contractual information
  • Reporting allows users to gain management-level information on their contracts which allow management to make informed, fast decisions.

Risks of not having Contract Management

  • Lack of visibility into contractual commitments
  • Poor document control and record keeping
  • Missing of key dates and events
  • Risks of over-payments
  • Lack of standardisation of agreements, inefficient contract authoring, negotiating and control
  • Poor monitoring of contract progress, verifying payments against deliverables and
  • Inability to enforce rights in the event of a dispute
  • Poor supplier management
  • Lack of contractual information for budgeting purposes
  • Inconsistent approach, no clear policies and guidelines, lack of skills in contract management

Everyday Benefits of Digital Contract Management

  • Allows businesses to monitor spending and thus manage (and reduce) unnecessary expenses
  • Reduces your risks of missing important contractual dates such as expiry dates
  • Provides instant secure access to all existing contracts
  • Reduces the burden on the legal department to vet incoming contracts and draft new ones
  • Quote to cash cycles are reduced dramatically due to the ease of digital contract creation
  • All changes to contracts can be monitored and a full audit trail is available for reference
  • Approval workflow is automated with audit trail
  • All contracts can be electronically stored, which means original documents can be filed away safely while uses still have access to important contractual information
  • Reporting allows users to gain management-level information on their contracts which allow management to make informed, fast decisions.

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Digital Transaction Management

What is DTM?

Digital Transaction Management (DTM) has recently emerged as the latest technology in cloud-based document management and document-based transaction management.

DTM eliminates the complications and time-consuming actions involved with document-based communications and processes by allowing users to complete all transactions online and through the cloud. This increases execution time for tasks, reduces cost and errors and provides simple digital interactions with all your documents.

The Future is Digital

DTM and process automation is not only about creating a paperless environment – the goal is to allow businesses to streamline processes, increase turnover time for task completion and eliminate errors. These technologies allow users to have a full audit history of transactions, as well as complete control over authorisation chains and process flows for document creation, management and monitoring.

As industries move more into the digital space with cloud computing and process automation, the use and incorporation of DTM in companies across industries is set to increase dramatically over the next few years. It is expected that it will grow to a $30 billion market by the 2020 year end.

Digital Elements of DTM

  1. Workflow automation – Transactions are automated and controlled digitally. These workflow chains can be configured by the business user.
  2. Assembly – Creation, configuration and delivery of documents and data into key business applications
  3. Agreements – Legal documents and agreements can be created and managed
  4. Identity – Security and identity proofing for users
  5. E-signature – Users can sign a document digitally (and securely)
  6. Integration – Can integrate into external applications and cloud-based document management systems
  7. Secure Transactions – A secure and centralised transaction centre
  8. Admin and Control – Users can create and manage users and their permissions for content editing and creation
  9. Audit History – A full audit trail covering all transactions and their details. This should be admissible in court.

Realyst and Digital Transaction Management

Over the years, Realyst has been working with many private and public sector organisations to help them streamline and automate their contract management processes. However, one vital part of those processes – the physical side of the contacting transaction – has surprisingly stayed stuck in the past. New smartphone and tablet technology has contributed significantly to opening this market.

Organizations that embrace the digital future by signing contracts electronically and sending contracts electronically for signature can speed up their contracting process, lower operating costs, reduce errors, and provide a superior customer experience. By going digital these companies will avoid the traditional pitfalls of lost or missing data and documents, breakages in the contracting processes, and lack of visibility into the contract management workflow.

Our Contract Management Solution addresses all of the requirements for Digital Transaction management and provides a solution to all the short falls of paper-based, manual transactions.

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