BPO Thought Process

BPO Thought Process

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Contract Lifecycle Management: Do you really have a Process?

In BPO we use words like “transformation” and “process improvement” so frequently that they can often lose meaning.  I think a lot of this is because of the maturity of the F&A and other markets, such that these words and offerings are taken for granted.  However, I’ve noticed that Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) is quite different.  Clients often attack the needs through tools or offshoring, but overlook the “process”.  This is quite a curious phenomenon in what is fundamentally a BPO product being offered by smart people and bought by smart people.  Here is why I think this is:
·         Buyers often think of contracts as “special” and something that is driven by the ad hoc demands of the contract lifecycle; or
·         Buyers believe they already have a process with their retained staff that “works for them”.
Just to be clear, when I talk of process I talk of a system which contains a series of predictable steps which can in turn be separated and maximized for efficiency, quality output and economics.  With all due respect, “smart people working well together” is not really a process.   It may work to get some things done, but it will be forever a limiting reagent to getting to an optimized solution.   
This is why we always push for transformation projects.  What these often equate to is a process building activity.  This then allows the tool and people to work together with the retained staff and find an optimized activity.  This may sound simple, but because of the “special” nature of contracts, buyers can forget.  Without a proper process you’ll get a tool in space and people onshore working with people offshore with lots of overlap.  This will lead to overlapping activities and unhappy clients – basically BPO in 1990. 
I do agree that contracts are different than F&A and the steps associated with obligation management or key term extraction do not lend themselves to process creation as easily as accounts payable.  But just because it is a different set of activities doesn’t mean that it can’t be broken down.  I think it’s the perception that contracting and the management of contracts are often individual activities.  Although that works and there are many very skilled individuals who do this, an organization in 2014 needs a standard, global process in order to get the most out of CLM – even if it is “special”.

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Craig Conte

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