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Following on from part 1 of Thomas Kase’s article on Seal Contract Discovery, part 2 takes a look at more examples of the application of this unique technology. Whether it’s a straight discovery exercise, an audit, due diligence or to locate, identify and abstract contract metadata in order to populate a contract management system, Seal has it covered. Read part 2 below (catch up on part 1 here):
We recently met with Thomas Kase, Principal Analyst at Spend Matters, a respected online source of information around supply management and procurement, and were able to brief them on Seal’s Contract Discovery solution. We were rather pleased with Thomas’ objective write up – read part 1 of his article below (part 2 coming soon):
Increasingly complex compliance requirements, strict industry regulation and multi-jurisdictional legislation are driving the need for corporate legal departments to extract an expanding array of key information from large numbers of contracts – Contract Abstraction.
Many corporate legal departments lack the necessary tools, resources and time to undertake such an exercise themselves, so are increasingly driven to outsource these tasks to Legal Process Outsource (LPO) providers. But how do they achieve the end result sought? LPOs typically employ low cost, off-shore resource to undertake the process manually. Allowing sensitive documents off-site is not something many are keen to consider, nor does the process actually happen any quicker.
The business need for an on-premise, technology-driven, automated solution has long been recognised; until now it has not existed.
Introducing Contract Discovery
Before contracts can be managed, the key terms and milestones, or metadata, contained within them must first be identified and understood. And even before this, there is another critical step – Contract Discovery. You cannot manage what you don’t know about.
Most organisations, when undertaking a Contract Discovery project, soon realise that they have far more contracts than they first thought. Finding these manually means a laborious, time consuming and costly exercise; first, checking each document to see if it is contractual in nature; second, abstracting key contract metadata.
Contract Discovery (cDiscovery) automates both the contract location process, searching multiple locations, and metadata abstraction. This all takes place from within the organisation; there’s no need to send electronic or paper documents offsite for processing, with the inherent security risks.
By processing automatically, on premise, this significantly improves the speed, accuracy and efficiency of Contract Abstraction. Abstracted data is made available as it is processed, without the delay necessarily associated with off-site processing. This rapid availability can be critical in time sensitive environments, such as Merger and Acquisition.
Through the use of Contract Discovery and Abstraction technology, the benefits of automation are quickly realised, and are repeatable:
- Fast, automated, predictable levels of performance
- Reduce impact and delays caused by human error
- Repeatable, small changes processed immediately
- Provides comprehensive, searchable database of contracts
- Optionally populate corporate Contract Lifecycle Management Platform
- Highly scalable to meet demand, driven by data volume and a compressed timeframe
- Increase Return on Investment (RoI) with repeated abstraction iterations
Seal Contract Discovery and Contract Abstraction provide the first solution to automate such processes. Find out more at the Seal website: www.seal-software.com
Partnerships have been around a long time. Two people working together to achieve something that, alone, neither of them could – perhaps something as simple as lifting and moving a heavy object. Scaling this up, two villages, towns, or even two countries getting together, can achieve something they couldn’t do alone, such as defending their borders.
The same is very true for companies. Perhaps they could go it alone and achieve their goals over time, but do they have the appetite to wait? For many, the answer is no, and so identifying another organisation that has complementary skills, knowledge or a market presence is an extremely attractive prospect.
At Seal we recognise that there are many complementary areas to our core strengths around contract management and contract discovery, but do we have all the expertise in house? Of course not, and we’re the first to admit it.
So that’s why we partner, where together we can achieve more than if we go it alone. We recently announced two partnerships that are classic examples of how two companies can achieve more together. Nuix are experts in eDiscovery, electronic investigation and information governance technology. Bringing Nuix and Seal together enables organisations, lawyers and advisory firms to gain better business insights and take control of their contracts. The partnership delivers a complete, scalable contract discovery solution, deployable in as little as one day – the expertise is built in. Read the full announcement here.
LexisNexis are a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organisations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. The Lexis Contract Finder service, powered by the automated search engine of Seal Contract Discovery, makes it easy for organisations to quickly locate, categorise and manage all their contracts. LexisNexis provide additional services including scanning and digitisation of paper contracts, thus enabling legal teams to digitise and manage their entire contract universe. The Contract Finder service helps make managing contract risk more efficient for legal teams and their commercial colleagues. Read the full announcement here.
For us, the relationship we have with our customers is yet another prime example of effective partnerships – we need customers, that’s a given, and our customers need solutions to their business challenges. Together we achieve our goals through partnership.
With very few exceptions, if any, organisations the world over regularly bring in outside help. The reasons are many and varied. Perhaps it’s to assist with understanding the dynamics of a new international market, or maybe specialist legal advice around mergers and acquisitions. Whatever the reason, turning to others to help out is often the line of least resistance.
It could take days, weeks, months or longer to build up the necessary domain expertise to address the intricacies of, for example, building a new go to market channel in an overseas geography. There are many experts with the experience, the skill, the knowledge and the contacts to help circumnavigate what could otherwise be a treacherous path.
Here at Seal Software Group, we recognise that we’re no different. Like many organisations, we’re experiencing dramatic, high growth, and in order to ensure we keep on track, we’ve recently made two announcements of our own. Måns Hultman recently joined our Advisory Board, bringing more than twenty years experience of helping steer high growth tech companies through the challenges that expansion, new markets and new channels can bring. Måns clearly believes in Seal, as he’s also become an investor. Read the full announcement here.
We also announced that Andrew Isherwood has joined the Seal Software Group board. Andrew has racked up over twenty-five years service with global IT firm HP. His experience of the global enterprise software and services market is invaluable to a firm like Seal. Read the full announcement here.
In many ways, there are comparisons to draw between Seal assembling the right team to help us with our continued growth plans, and what we do for our customers. Many of our customers have challenges around growth, organic or via mergers or acquisitions, and could continue to rely on manual processes that are often slow and painful in order to ensure they are fully aware of the contract landscape of their organisation. They could manually manage renewals, renegotiations, critical events and milestones around their contracts – or they could assemble the right team and bring in Seal.
“Disagreements over acceptance or delivery are the number one cause of contractual claims and disputes. So it is not surprising that the parties to a contract focus so strongly on the question of who will be liable for the consequences of failure.” So says the opening statement of the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management’s (IACCM) report “2011 Top Terms in Negotiation”.
Each year the IACCM conduct a survey to establish the most frequently negotiated terms and conditions of contracts. For many years, the top three have consistently been:
- Limitation of Liability
- Price/Charge/Price Changes
Now this raises a question – if so much effort is placed on these three elements of a contract, then surely these must be important to an organisation? Why else would they expend the effort to negotiate the terms into the contract to begin with? But therein lies a problem – perhaps there’s a need to change behaviours going forward, but what about the hundreds, maybe thousands or even tens of thousands of contracts that are already in place?
Does any organisation truly have control over these top terms for contracts that have perhaps been in place for many years? Contracts that have renewed many times and may have been the source of many a price hike!
Are such organisations getting a fair deal, at least in terms of the contracts that they fought so hard to negotiate in the first place? Probably not is the common answer that we see. If you don’t know what’s in the contract, or even how many contracts are still effective and binding, how can you possibly know if the terms you sweated to enshrine are working for your benefit?
Dolphin Software specialises in locating, analysing and reporting on contractually binding documents by first ensuring, through a contract discovery process, that all contractual terms are fully understood. For example in M&A environments, the top two terms identified by the IACCM, were also among the top terms that our clients requested in our add on M&A rule pack. (cDiscovery Metadata M&A Rule Pack) Make sure you understand the entire contract landscape of your organisation.
The full report, “2011 Top Terms in Negotiation”, is published by IACCM (www.iaccm.com).
The IACCM study was undertaken in the period December 2010 – April 2011 and the results are based on input from 1,123 organisations, representing more than 8,000 negotiators. Individual contributors came from procurement, legal and sales contracting functions in more than 60 countries. Input typically represents large international corporations.