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There are numerous ECM solutions available. Determining which solution is the best fit for a given enterprise is crucial for addressing an organization’s contract management problems. On the background material page is a partial list of ECM vendors. Look over their web pages and choose three vendors which appear to offer software that would meet your organization’s needs. You may want to ask your contact if there are any specific vendors or products they have been considering. Then use the following checklist to evaluate their products. 1
Note: Not all criteria will be equally important in every organization. To target your analysis, consult with your organization to determine their needs from a contract management system. An excellent approach would be to create a spreadsheet where your contact could assign a weight (say, 0 to 3) to each criterion, and then you could rate each product resulting in a weighted quantitative measure of each product evaluated. ECM systems can be very expensive and having more capability than needed is just as undesirable as having a system that is inadequate.
Content and Document Management
These criteria determine if the system is appropriate for your organization’s contract management needs.
Does the system
• Store, search, sort, manage and report contracts and related documents?
• Search on key fields (e.g. vendor number, start and end dates, contract owner’s name)?
• Expand the search base to other contract attributes. Allow for ability to add as many user-defined fields as needed?
• Link documents together or create a hierarchy between documents (e.g. master services agreement linked to compensation agreement)?
• Contain rich analytic and audit tools?
• Have a dedicated reporting engine and reporting server?
• Integrate with the organization’s existing reporting engine?
• Provide standard reports – which ones?
• Have the ability to generate ad hoc reports?
• Feature security safeguards which limit who can execute a report vs. who can only view them?
• Provide role-based reporting and/or dashboards?
• Impose size restrictions on contract documents (e.g. maximum number of clauses, pages, attachments)?
• Allow mass changes to master data or contracts (changing contact person to all contracts that meet a certain criteria)
Contract Authoring and Configuring
These criteria address how well the system fits those who will use it.
Does the system
• Support the full contract life cycle?
• Support self-service contract requirements and requests?
• Support pre-contracting activities (e.g. eRFx)?
• Allow the author to use pre-contracting information to create new contracts?
• Allow for the creation of a template library (e.g. clause templates, contract templates, contract templates, e-mail notification templates)?
• Allow for the substitution of alternate-pre-approved clauses for standard clauses in the templates?
• Provide a wizard or other assistance to select and build the right contract based on the answers to a series of questions?
• Allow amendments and link them to the original documents?
• Support integration with word-processing software such as Microsoft Word?
• Have the capability to cover all types of contracts (lease agreements, service agreements, sales agreements or intellectual property agreements), even if you plan on only automating procurement contracts at first?
• Support management of other parties’ paper contracts?
• Support multiparty contracts?
• Have the flexibility to allow for configuring approval rules and workflow support to match your organizational/process structure?
• Enforce approval workflows at the clause and contract level to ensure compliance with industry, local, national or international regulations?
• Support secure electronic signatures?
• Allow the configuration of specific users, user-groups security roles, and permissions to support access-control requirements?
Collaborative Contract Development
This assesses the systems ability to support interaction of multiple parties within and beyond the organization’s boundaries.
Does the system
• Trigger alerts or workflow notices for specific contract milestones (e.g. end date, review dates, volume thresholds, payment schedules)?
• Support multiparty review via email, fax, or online?
Resource Planning
This assesses the system’s ability to coordinate and track historical events as well as support future needs.
Does the system
• Track contracts related to capital projects by project phase or milestone?
• Support planning, scheduling, and resource allocation during different phases of the contract development process?
• Track actual vs. planned time and costs for different phases of the contract development process?
• Allow easy integration of data with project planning and scheduling software (e.g. Microsoft Project or Primavera)?
Performance and Compliance Management
These criteria assess the system’s control functions of self-assessment and compliance.
Does the system
• Support analysis of contracts based on negotiated terms?
• Provide standard reports to monitor and ensure effective use of clause and contract templates in authoring?
• Provide a comprehensive audit trail of changes made to system configuration (e.g. who made the change, when, what it was and who approved it)?
• Provide automated generation of reports required for Sarbanes-Oxley and other reporting requirements?
• Set up e-mail alerts, escalations, and process triggers according to predetermined milestones and thresholds?
• Support simple creation of ad hoc reports?
Integration and Services
This looks at integration of the ECM system with other organizational systems and support offered by the vendor.
Does the system
• Come equipped with prebuilt adaptors and graphical user interface (GUI) integration tool for linking existing enterprise systems?
• Support real time integration with other procurement systems (e.g. SRM, Supplier portal, enterprise spend management, e-procurement, e-sourcing, ERP)?
• Integrate with other financial applications such as invoice verification and payment/commitment verification?
• Provide vendor support services for systems integration?
• Provide vendor partnerships with third-party technology and service integration firms?
• Provide utility programs for uploading master data (e.g. product data, vendor data, vendor contract information, user data)?
• Provide automatic uploads of legacy contracts?
Other criteria
• Is the system easy to use and intuitive?
• Can it support multiple languages, currencies, different date and currency formats?
• Is the software built on standard-based architecture such as Microsoft.NET or J2EE?
• What is the vendor’s track record and how does it compare to competitors?
• What are the implementation costs (as compared to software costs)
• What are the future customization and upgrade costs?
Prepare a table comparing the three commercially available ECM systems. The table will be evaluated for completeness, readability and professional presentation. Consider whether a portrait or landscape layout best presents the data.
1. Answer questions with clarity.
2. Show depth and breadth in your paper to enhance the quality of your paper.
3. Try your best to search in the internet to find some papers/articles to support your argument and show them in the reference list.
4. This assignment is 2 pages long.
1 Adapted from Saxena, A. (2008). Enterprise Contract Management: A Practical Guide to Successfully Implementing an ECM Solution. Fort Lauderdale, FL: J. Ross Publishing. Pp. 30-34.

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