Manage your contracts on Excel sheets, a great idea!

An organization should always manage their contracts!! It can cost you a fortune when you don’t manage them. When you start to organize your contracts it is a great idea to manage your contracts on an Excel sheet. And that is just what many companies do.

Excel has no limitations, people have
It is a great idea to manage your contracts on an Excel sheet. And that is just what many companies do. It is feasible when you have, let’s say, a maximum of 50 contracts:
• Excel means that you have no costs of a contract management system in the cloud (a contract management system anywhere else is a waste of money)
• It also means that this number of contracts is just about manageable, BUT in real life you cannot manage 50 contracts in a good way.

I have seen that companies with this number of contracts in Excel forget to stop their leases in time, not be notified when a sales contract has expired, terms of a purchase contract weren’t met etc.

Simple explanation why you should prefer a solid solution
I can be honest with you, it happened to me once. That was the moment that I said to myself – this must never happen again!
Most people in companies with 50 contracts or less have a business to run and managing contracts is not their number one priority.

I considered standard cloud solutions first
Driven by great selling points such as low cost, Opex instead of Capex, easy scalable, close the account when you want etc. I considered it. But then I wanted to know more: are these solutions secure, what happens when these solution providers file for bankruptcy?
So I investigated if these providers had ISAE 3402 and ISO 27001 certificates, official certificates related to proven and audited security. I couldn’t find that type of information on most sites of the providers. I investigated if the financial reports of these companies have been filed to see if these companies are large enough to survive in this market. I couldn’t find any.
Nor could I find on these sites where the data is stored, which seems to be vital for organizations that don’t want their data in the US.

So I made a plan to meet all the above requirements and more in a SharePoint solution.
I decided to create a Business app for contract life cycle management. In 2010 we started to make an analysis of the requirements. What were they?

The Business app,

  • must cater for financial and legal reporting
  • must contain expert knowledge in the domain (so we engaged a legal firm as Co –creators)
  • must contain expert knowledge of finance in conjunction with legal
    o fortunately we have this knowledge
  •  must run online and on premises:
    – If I start with online or on premises, make it possible to move from the cloud to on premises or vice versa – so we chose SharePoint as the platform
  • must not interfere with the other SharePoint sites online or on premise
    – so we made a sandbox solution and hired a specialist developer
  • must work in SharePoint UI to make reports in SharePoint
    – so we made a blueprint in SharePoint 2010
  • must be secure, so each company has its own SharePoint groups
  • must be easy to deploy, so you can install in 20 minutes
  • must be scalable if used online
  • must be hosted at a company, where that host has ISO 27001 and SAS 70 II
    – so it works in Office365
  • must know where data is stored, If online – with Office 365 you know that
  • must know what happens when our company should file for bankruptcy
  • our general terms and conditions state that in case of bankruptcy, the client will become the software owner in the state it is on their SharePoint environment
  • must be affordable at fixed price
    – you don’t need consultants to install – we are always there to help.

Technical things we addressed.
If you work with contracts you want to be warned when you need to take action. That is just the reason why the Home page opens with the “action required” box. We have also built a warning system on top of the alerts and emails.
Reporting is key – our reports are in line with financial and legal reporting guidelines as standard. And should you want another report, simply use the Excel sheet to make your own bespoke report.
If a web part is needed, hey it is SharePoint, just put a list on a page and a view. The contract register benefits from the metadata structure that we have built in our Financial suite®
We also made an analysis of the most regular contract searches, to find the most common needs. These have been translated into our standard available ways of searching.

Do you want to know more?

Have a look at Contract life cycle management made easy.

In January 2015 an app for contract management was released: Smart SharePoint Apps

About André: André Salomons started his career at Ernst and Young and developed a further career as a financial in roles as Controller and CFO for many international corporates. He is also ICT literate. Today he is an entrepreneur in the software industry working for Financial Suite®, a company with solutions on SharePoint and Excel for financial, legal and QA processes. He is a public speaker, blogger, writer and trainer.

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