A Few Things to Consider When Choosing a Contract Management System

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For quite a while now, I’ve been involved in a contract management system integration project and wanted to talk generally about a few things to consider when choosing a contract management system.

1) I’ve said this in other posts, but don’t choose the brightest, shiniest object you found online or at a conference! If you type “software contract management” into Google, you will not receive a list of articles about best practices in the field of software contract management. What you will find are vendors who have done some very creative SEO (search engine optimization) work to get their keywords and their products at the top of the search list. Do your homework and your due diligence!

2) Users are stakeholders too. The stakeholder group is larger than the management team, it includes the users as well. These are the folks who will be using the software day in and day out, so it only makes sense to give them input into the selection process. As a bonus, you’ll achieve immediate buy-in if you involve them in the beginning. But, leave them in the dark for two years while you purchase, develop and then release the software, making it mandatory for them to use a system that they didn’t have any input into? Well, good luck with that one!

3) Think about the big picture for your department. Is this going to be integrated with an ERP system next year and then integrated with another product two years down the road? How will other departments interact with your system? What systems do they currently use? Ask your IT department for assistance if they’re not already involved and allow them to diagram the architecture and understand the enterprise impacts of the system you’re considering for purchase in the beginning. Note the emphasis on beginning

4) Don’t rush.  I know we’re almost in Q4 and everyone’s trying to burn down 2013 funds, but don’t spend money on a contract management system in a rush. If you have to spend the money now, how about spending it on a consultant that can come in and assess your needs for a contract management system? Do you already have a homegrown system that can be expanded on? Do you have money in 2014 that you can earmark now for this expenditure? If you’re truly in a rush and have to burn through that money before the end of the year, take a hard look at your options and make a solid plan that’s in the best interest of your team, your department and your organization.

Good luck!

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Rethinking Government Technology Procurement Processes

I saw this great post a few weeks ago on the Code for America website entitled “Help Us Procure Procurement Policies”.

After reading the post and watching the video, I totally understand where these folks are coming from. I get it. I’ve been an IT Program /  Project Manager and a Senior Systems Analyst. I know what it’s like to bump up against the Procurement process in both private industry and government. Now, I sit on the other side of that fence as a technology procurement and vendor management professional.

Do we need to rethink Procurement when it comes to cutting edge technology, i.e. technology that’s new and has been out on the market for a year or less? I’ll throw myself out there and say “yes”.  The post from Code for America was directed at the government procurement process, but it should apply to large corporations who can at times function, for lack of a better term, as a siloed, government agency.

Now, this isn’t to say that we throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, we need risk assessments and we need to ensure that the contract is sound. But, do we need to turn the mega-wheels of Corporate Procurement for these types of technology deals?

It’s food for thought and a great video. Take a look and let me know what your thoughts are.