Can I let you in on a little secret? I love buffets. Apologies to all you authentic, Michelin-starred, organic, or “slow-food” lovers—all of which are fantastic—but there’s always been a special place in my heart (and stomach!) for the wide-open choice, free will, and self-service aspects of choice associated with a great buffet. But what does a buffet have to do with contract management tools? Glad you asked. 

I grew up in New Jersey where Asian food-“inspired” buffets were and still are a common food choice. No need to wait or be limited by conventions around portion size. You just pick what you want, try new things, discover what doesn’t work for you, or judge your companions’ selections (“wow, he got the crab thing, that’s risky” or “what an amateur—never fill up on bread”). All of this is in a relatively safe environment and at an embarrassingly low and, perhaps on reflection, suspect price.

Just like a buffet, there is a lot of choice in contract management. We’ve identified over 200 tools that carry out some form of contract management processes. But unlike my overly nostalgic memories of buffets, there’s a risk involved if you simply grab one of everything without really looking or don’t really know what you’re in the mood for. There was a time, when contract lifecycle management tools were like food. Not a particular food, but an overly simplified version of food such as at a college or university cafeteria in the 1990s—you needed a “meal,” and they provided one in the most basic sense of the word.

Some time back, companies knew they needed contract management tools and vendors supplied them in their very basic form. Yes, there was some great innovation, but most tools offered the same things: document repository, document search, obligation management, reminder system, and some rudimentary authoring which was often just a link to Microsoft Word.

But just as tastes evolve, so has the market for contract management tools. Now there are some really refined items out there—vendor management modules that link to your ERP or invoicing systems, authoring tools that are an extension of your CRM tool, seamless modules that build on procurement and are embedded in a source-to-contract solution, artificial intelligence (AI) for reading your documents, and extraction tools that do the job of junior lawyers, among a load more available permutations. I’ve even heard one guy talking about Blockchain and the future of smart contracting —crazy talk for sure!

Although the market has evolved, the only negative thing is that some companies are still buying their tools like a “meal”—or even worse like a buffet—not realizing that certain tools are really good for some things and not right for others. If your issue is post-award vendor management, why are you buying an authoring tool that duplicates much of the power your B2B RFx tool already has? If you don’t even have a process for getting contracts into a database, why are you buying a deep AI tool for analysis that can’t access your contracts because no one knows where they are? This isn’t mixing rice, noodles and egg rolls together for $5.99.

There’s a lot of change management associated with new tooling—all of which is worth it—but it’s best to know what you want and need before you go and grab things simply because you read about them in a blog.

To learn more about how Capgemini can help you choose the right contract management tools for your business and prevent the dreaded “buffet” syndrome, contact: craig.conte@capgemini.com

Click here to learn more about how Capgemini’s Contract Compliance & Optimization (CCO) solution provides a broader and deeper solution to your compliance, cost reduction and spend protection goals, from an often-overlooked area—the written contract.