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Procurement contract management


By Jane Shortall on 23 September 2021

Many procurement professionals agree that digital transformation will help them achieve objectives such as cost-cutting, improving agility, visibility to MI and improving their productivity as according to research by the Hackett Group in 2019. One change that digital transformation will make the biggest impact is in the area of contract management and Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM).

The contract management process takes into account the continuous procurement process by ensuring suppliers and buyers adhere to their agreed contractual obligations whilst also negotiating any future changes that need to take place until the contract comes to an end.

Established in 2011, eXceeding has spent the last decade helping organisations  deliver impartial, best practice, procurement advice to all types of organisations, in order to help them achieve the best services and solutions for their needs. Contract management is a large part of the ongoing services that eXceeding brings to organisations, delivering solutions designed to help organisations thrive.

As a fully certified solution provider, eXceeding has ISO accreditations in Quality Management (ISO9001: 2015), Environmental Management (ISO 14001: 2015), Information Security Management (ISO27001: 2013) and Cyber Essentials Scheme.

Don’t take our word for it though, here is what the BGL Group said about their experience when it came to our procurement solutions for their business:

“eXceeding worked with us to ensure that our procurement processes and procedures were aligned with our culture. They also helped us to identify an overspend in one area which resulted in a spend review and led to considerable savings for our business.”

Discover more about how we helped the BGL Group with our case study that you can read here.

Optimise Supplier Relationships

The better your relationship with your suppliers, the better the overall deal you are going to achieve both in procurement and within Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM). Regularly engaging with suppliers after the goods or services have been procured develops a positive relationship with the supplier. This can be key in times when you require items for unforeseen issues or resolving any disputes in a timely manner.

There is of course a fine line between maintaining supplier relationships which can get overly formal, or too friendly. The key is to optimise the relationship by adding value. If you want to optimise your supplier relationships, there are a few things you can do to improve this;

Create channels for consistent communication
This is essential for good practice with suppliers, it will help garner support and create transparency on both sides of the channel and prevent unforseen issues. You want to have the right tools to ensure that communication is consistent and open on both channels.

Agree that mistakes have been made by both parties
Pointing fingers when things don’t go right isn’t a good look or way to resolve conflict. Acknowledging that better communication is the start of resolving issues is a vital step forwards and equally, something that both parties must work at in order to avoid issues appearing in the future.

Create transparency through technology
Using a fully integrated procure-to-pay system, procurement is able to access real-time information that they would typically have to request from their supplier.

Purchase & Negotiation Orders

When it comes to creating a purchase order or even negotiating the terms and conditions of a contract, the first phase of a procurement team is about having a negotiation strategy and selecting the right suppliers. A ‘qualified supplier’ will allow your team be able to quickly engage, draw up purchase orders and even move stock and services in a shorter timescale.

Once you have a list of approved suppliers, you can move away from manual processes which take time, cause errors and can over time erode trust with your suppliers. By automating the process of supplier selection as well as receiving proposals when required and then selecting the supplier you want to work with, you can increase efficiency in a short space of time. By having pre-approved suppliers in a centralised system you can negotiate contracts and speed up associated processes in contract data.

Contract data will include pricing, Service-Level Agreements (SLA), and terms & conditions. Advanced CLM solutions ensure that the organisation’s approval policies are followed and all necessary information is included in every contract.

Streamlining the Procurement Process

When streamlining the procurement process, you are creating a database of suppliers with the relevant information. From names to email addresses and telephone numbers, you are making it easier to get in touch with your contacts, increase efficiency and remove human error with procurement procedures.

But how can the procurement process be streamlined? There are a few ways that this can be achieved, including;

  • Use a centralised system
    A centralised system allows you to leverage your system to scale, provides a unique source of information and creates organisation wide synergy whilst removing mass scale inefficiencies and human errors.
  • Design a user-friendly platform
    From understanding who is in the chain of command on giving approval to knowing if you have the budget to make the purchase possible.
  • Automate as much as possible
    There are many processes that you can automate through technology such as digitally sending out contracts on approval, raising purchase orders or even reminder emails and invoices. This will reduce time, increase efficiency and remove any potential manual input errors.

Monitor and Managing Expenses and Terms

When everything becomes more centralised through software and process systems, it becomes easier to monitor and manage contract terms ensuring compliance and governance. In short, it is easier to understand how much money you are spending with suppliers, see spending patterns and savings opportunities, and if the terms of agreements are being adhered to or not.

A CLM solution can work by improving transparency across the procurement process, as such it can give a thorough breakdown of the terms and conditions of each contract as well as monitor the level of spend and expenses per supplier.

  • Review Terms and Conditions
    In a centralised system of all contract information, businesses can now monitor and manage contract terms and conditions ensuring compliance and governance. By simply leveraging any pre-approved clauses and using templates in the system, a procurement team can enforce the use of approved language and formats whilst also quickly searching and reporting where certain clauses and terms are used with their suppliers.
  • Inventory Management
    Do you already have high stock levels of an item? Is it worth purchasing more? Or could you even sell stock back to suppliers? Ask these questions before making new orders.
  • Purchase from agreed catalogues or portals
    Ensure that as few as possible brands or types of product are purchased. Higher orders from one less supplier leads to better discounts due to economies of scale.

Enhancing Supplier Performance Visibility

Automation helps organisations in their procurement procedures identify problems at an early stage – by continuously monitoring what is happening through the terms of the contract and the performance of the vendor. This is essential to ensure that a procurement department can identify any issues early on and develop either new relationships for better performance or investigate problems to raise awareness to the vendor and in return strengthen relationships.

You can measure performance through a series of different metrics, importantly your CLM software will be able to help in all of these areas as they are integral to the analytics packages which are incorporated into the programs. This includes;

  • Quantity ordered vs quantity received/service paid vs minimal viable service
    How many items did you order versus the amount that you received? Is there a reason for an over order or a shortfall? Were you advised on any variations and didn’t take this into account? You can track this quite easily and quickly and use a percentage to identify the suppliers that are giving you the best value of service. This applies to services as well as goods; are you paying for too much or too little service? Both can have major impacts to your organisation!
  • On Time delivery
    Are you tracking the delivery times of the products you are receiving? You can calculate this with ​​ the percentage of deliveries received at their promised arrival time. How accurate is this? This should all be based on the SLAs you have in place.
  • ASN Accuracy
    For suppliers who provide Advanced Shipment Notifications, ASNs you can use a similar method to On Time Delivery to ensure that shipments arrive when they say they are going to. ASN accuracy is typically measured on the basis of the number of ASNs, and how many of those were accurate.

The world of procurement is fraught with many pitfalls but contract management is one area where software, automation and experience can help make procurement run smoother and quicker.

Contract management is the process that takes into account the continuous procurement process that makes sure that suppliers and buyers adhere to their agreed contractual obligations whilst also negotiating any future changes that need to take place until the contract is terminated. There are many different ways that procurement contracts can be developed and improved as well as creating the right conditions for suppliers to be able to clearly see where they are improving or failing based on transparency and communication between all parties.

eXceeding has years of experience in delivering solutions to the procurement areas of business of all sizes. Not only does eXceeding have a body of experience with organisations, it also has ISO accreditations showing compliance and knowledge in the sector.

At eXceeding, we can help businesses get to grips with their procurement processes and create a strategy that suits them to deliver not only cost savings but also a streamlined process saving time and reducing human error in this field. With over a decade of helping organisations to succeed, eXceeding is well positioned to help you and your organisation.

Contact us today to find out more

jane shortfall contract negotiation consultant

Jane Shortall

Jane has over 15 years’ experience of working in B2B sales and marketing. She oversees the sales strategy for eXceeding, but also directly engages with our clients, to understand their challenges and translate them into a tailored service offer to meet their specific needs.

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