or... Do you know where your towels are?
There is a joke in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that will strike a chord for many a company. Arthur Dent is told that the notice to demolish his house was on display, so he should have been aware of it. “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the leopard’,” he replies.
It’s a dig at bureaucracy, but it rings true in the corporate environment today. We don’t use filing cabinets so much now, but many companies rely heavily on their modern equivalent: document stores such as Dropbox, SharePoint, and OneDrive. They’re popular because it’s easy to put files in, from anywhere. The fact that information is in there does not mean it’s readily accessible when you need it, though, or in a useful form.
Contracts are particularly valuable assets, but some companies sign them, file them, then forget them. When it comes to renewal time several years later, the team that originally sealed the deal has moved on. The accounts for the document stores are tied to those individuals, so there’s a convoluted process of granting access to the new team. The document store is likely to be incomplete, with data scattered across corporate systems. The negotiation process perhaps involved presentations, and certainly included email discussions. That information might not have materially changed the agreement, but it can be important to the relationship, and alter the way the agreement should be renegotiated. None of this scattered information is visible to the new team when they come to pick up the renewal discussion.
The document store is blind to the type of data it’s storing, too. It doesn’t know when agreements will expire, so there’s a separate process required to ensure that they do not lapse accidentally without renewal. There is a significant risk that the company could continue to work without an active legal agreement.
With BridgingX, we’re rethinking all of this. We’ve created a smarter solution for collating and curating the information, terms, and key performance indicators (KPIs) of commercial agreements.
It provides a secure and auditable repository for all your documentation. Unlike generic document stores, BridgingX is role based, so there is continuity throughout the whole lifecycle of the relationship. When someone new takes on a role in the team, they have access to the entire history and documentation of the agreement. They can quickly get up to speed, and start working effectively with colleagues and customers.
Emails can be attached to the repository, and each deal has a timeline with an audit trail of each event. Having everything in one place and organised by date improves auditability and governance. Most importantly, it makes it easier to manage the relationships that generate value for the organisation. There’s a reliable corporate memory of what’s been agreed and why, and knowledge is easily transferred when the team changes. The single store breaks down silos, enabling visibility across the organisation, as well as from bottom to top.
Our secure repository understands the agreement, too, so it can issue notifications when a deal is approaching its renewal or expiry date. That, too, improves governance. The chief compliance officer or chief operating officer can mandate, for example, that everyone on the team is alerted 45 days before a deal expires. There’s plenty of time for renewals to be considered and negotiated strategically.
Everyone benefits from the peace of mind of knowing that everything is stored safely in one place and that the store is suitable for agreements. For those working with customers, it makes it easier to understand what they expect. Staff can delight customers by being well-informed and responsive, and demonstrating that the organisation as a whole behaves consistently and in line with what was agreed.
It’s time to move away from the world of rusty old filing cabinets nobody ever opens, and look to the future: an all-knowing guide to your commercial agreements.
Ready to talk? Get in touch.