Implementing contract lifecycle management system automates procurement systems to allow for faster, simpler and more accurate procurement.
Unlike the private sector, which has nimbly modernized its technology over the last decade, the federal government is slower on the uptake. Understaffed and yet so critical, government organizations are seeking ways to modernize internal processes that allow them to rely less on cumbersome, manual processes and more on automation. One such area government entities are modernizing procurement. Implementing contract lifecycle management, or CLM, system automates procurement systems to allow for faster, simpler and more accurate procurement.
CLM automates the workflows associated with initiating, executing and monitoring contractual agreements. A modern CLM system offers significant savings in purchasing and drastically lowers compliance risk for organizations across industries but data from the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management shows that only 33% of the public sector has adopted contract repositories, versus leading industries’ adoption rate of 60% to 80%.
Below are three key benefits of harnessing modern CLM to streamline procurement in the government sector.
Until recently, IRS contracting officers, who oversee 12,000 transactions worth about $2.6 billion a year, had to manually plug D-U-N-S numbers—a universal numbering system—into multiple databases to research vendors for past bankruptcies and other problems. Reliance on manual processes potentially opens the federal government to a long list of problems, such as security vulnerabilities, miscalculations and typos.
Over the last year and a half, government agencies faced an urgent need for expedited procurement processes as they sought to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the government sector still relies on manual operations to keep many of its systems moving forward, procurement officials are often unable to get deals from contract to signature fast enough to meet the needs of their constituents in a timely way.
CLM technology provides faster access to procurement services because it seamlessly routes work between procurement and finance systems, simplifies onboarding vendors and automates risk assessment. By digitizing and automating procurement, human capital can be better utilized with higher value tasks. In addition, cloud-based CLM platforms provide staff the option to securely access contracts and other classified information while working remotely, even from mobile devices. The ability to access critical information from contracts anywhere allows government officials to make progress on procurement deals even when they aren’t in the office.
In a similar way, manual procurement processes introduce a significant chance of error. When public agencies rely on paper-based contracts, disparate electronic forms, email and spreadsheets to complete procurement cycles, they open the floodgates for inaccuracy.
Blind spots in a government agency’s contract review process can create unnecessary compliance risk and financial liability. Organizations can take steps to address these concerns by having an accurate inventory of all contracts and the data sets within their contracts. With CLM, the parties in the agreement can cross-reference deadlines and expiration dates of many contracts at once to quickly assess risk and make critical business decisions, as well as forecast revenue in a rapidly changing business landscape.
Lastly, inaccuracy in the procurement process can lead to fiscal waste. According to research by World Commerce & Contracting, organizations lose almost 10% of annual revenue due to poor contract management practices.
Enabling the public sector to have visibility into all the details of a contract in one digital location creates a much simpler and efficient process. An automated CLM platform ensures users can view, edit and collaborate on a given contract in real time—as long as they have the correct permissions.
CLM systems also enable teams to harness and structure contract data so it can be easily searched, sorted and added to reports and dashboards that provide visibility needed to assess contract risk levels and even create risk scores. This helps increase compliance and lower risk for contracts, vendors, and even individual contract clauses.
Recent economic challenges have put many things into perspective, putting a microscope on how the government can “do more with less.” Today, the power of automation is at work in almost all verticals and industries, and there is no reason why the federal government can’t leverage this same technology to bring on vendors and partners more efficiently. Modern, automated CLM has the ability to give federal procurement a new level of agility in the public sector. It empowers agencies to work more quickly, more accurately and more streamlined so that they better meet the evolving needs of the American public.
Eric Laughlin is chief executive officer of Agiloft.