1 Reply Latest reply on Feb 10, 2010 11:32 AM by Ken Miklos

    Handling Internal Compliance Issues

    Ken Miklos Master

      Looking for thoughts on how others have addressed internal compliance issues when automating contract management data and processes.  For example, moving contract data from file folders to an online repository...or the best way to handle coorespondence that takes place offline or in a contract management solution vs. storage on an email server.


      Has anyone addressed a similar issue?  What steps were necessary in education and change management?

        • Re: Handling Internal Compliance Issues
          Sharon Horton, PMP Master

           

          Ken, I think you've tapped into quite a broad issue with internal compliance issues for automating contract management data and processes.  You have certainly raised two important aspects of the topic.

           

          First, moving contract data and documents from offline to an online repository has been one of the top justifications for a CM system.  This raises the visibility of contracts to the whole organization (according to permissions to view, of course), applies consistent processes and approvals and provides a repository of the contracts documents.  The ability to view the documents themselves provides broad access to this strategic information which is by itself a sufficient motivation.  No more trying to track down a document that's missing from a file folder locked in someone's desk - or, worse yet, having to call the supplier for a copy of that contract!  An added bonus is that it allows paper copy to be moved off site for backup as well as for recovery of valuable floor space.  We have too many stories of natural and man-made disasters that have destroyed an organization's paper copies of contracts.

           

          The second issue you raise, internal compliance for handling communications regarding contracts (i.e. email) is very complex.  Traditionally the contract manager who worked (or is working) on the project keeps an Outlook folder.  These are usually organized by the supplier, but I know contract managers that organize by month, by business unit, by requester, by commodity, by approver - you name it.  They move correspondence (and any attachements) deemed appropriate into the folder of their organizational structure and delete the rest. This alone is not very satisfying and probably doesn't follow any compliance standards, particularly from contract manager to contract manager.  Six months or a year later, if you can even remember you have this significant email, you can't find it because it's mixed in with everything else.  Unfortunately, the problems have just begun.  As someone who has been the recipient of another's .pst file (the collection of Outlook folders with corresponding emails), nobody could find an important email in the midst of someone else's email.  You may as well delete what someone else did, it's useless to you.

           

          So, the practical solution is to begin storing as much of the significant correspondence with the contract.  If you have paper files, you know how quickly your file cabinets will expand.  With the electronic system, this correspondence can be both generated from the system and organized by those very contracts that are the subject of the documentation!  Do you want to know what the supplier said during negotiations?  Go to the contract record and look at the negotiation task.  Want to know what the business owner said when approving the contract?  Go to the contract record.  Additional freeform messaging is also a goal providing the ability to by-pass and/or supplement communications from Outlook - you can send and receive emails directly to the contract record. 

           

          Somebody still needs to decide that an email is required, and internal compliance can provide guidelines on what's required and what's nice to have, but at least there's a contract-based repository rather than a person-based repository for significant emails.

           

          Thoughts?