SAP Ariba Pre-Deployment Readiness: Contract Management

In this article, we delve into preparing for your SAP Ariba Contracts Deployment. The key is to identify your goal before you start preparing for deployment. There are decisions that have to be made regarding how you want to use the contracts module. Setting a realistic schedule for your deployment will depend what level of complexity you need the contract system to be and how well-prepared you are for the level you choose.

What to know about a contracts deployment.

In part two of our series on Pre-Deployment Readiness, we discussed five steps to prepare for a SAP Ariba Sourcing Deployment. The first four steps were merely to prepare you for the fifth, which was: Clarify your ultimate goals. In this article, we’ll delve into preparing for your SAP Ariba Contract Management Deployment. However, in this case, you want to identify your goal before you start preparing for deployment.

There is a range of complexity in deploying the Ariba contract management module. Choices include:

  1. Simply utilizing the tool as a contract repository only.
  2. As a repository with basic approvals and negotiations,
  3. As a repository with full contract creation and contract authoring.

Setting a realistic schedule for your Ariba contract management deployment will depend what level of complexity you need the contract system to be and how well-prepared you are for the level you choose.

The Three Levels

Contract Repository Only

 Global visibility of contracts, reporting, compliance notifications, system permission restriction abilities, E-signature usage ability, amendment tracking.

Contract Repository with Basic Approvals and Negotiations

 All of the above, plus: system tracking of negotiations, reviews and approvals, internal system amendments notification and creation.

Contract Repository with Contract Creation and Contract Authoring

 All of the above, plus: internal system building of agreement, clause library usage for all authored agreements, internal system amendments notification and creation with clause library usage for all authored agreements.

It’s very important to understand, prior to the consultants coming in, whether you intend to use the authoring functionality. There are a lot of things you can do if you choose NOT to go with authoring, such as maintain standards, send contract documents for review and negotiation, use redlines, and the other functions noted above.

What you can’t do are see clause-level changes, add or substitute clauses from the Clause Library, approve clause usage, changes or deletions, report on clause usage and changes.

The bottom line is this: If the authoring features are critical to your goals, you need to know that very early on to set a realistic project schedule. It also makes the prework of understanding and analyzing contracts and getting pre-approved clause alternatives even more important before the consulting partner comes on site.

Three Key Preparation Factors in Contract Management

Once you have determined which level of Ariba contract management is appropriate for your needs, there are three areas where it’s important to be prepared in advance to avoid project delays. 

1. Preparing your People

As with sourcing, identifying the key stakeholders in the contracts deployment process is crucial.

  • Get legal buy-in early! This should be the Number One task on your list. Legal and compliance are the most critical stakeholders in the contracts area and waiting until the last minute can cause significant delays. Legal will likely be needed to some extent regardless of the level of complexity, but the more complex, the more crucial is it to involve them early.
  • Identify the team members that will participate and then maintain the process after the deployment is finished. Can they make changes to the contract language, format clauses or documents and communicate effectively with legal? They also need to have time in their schedule to perform the necessary tasks. Ideally, they will not only have training in Ariba technology, but if contract authoring is in scope, they will need to have expert level skills in Microsoft Word.

2. Preparing your Content

There needs to be a basic understanding of exactly what content will be in the system and how you want it to be formatted.

  • Be sure your contracts are digitized. Our consultants have walked into projects ready to start only to find out that the contracts are on paper in file cabinets…sometimes hundreds or thousands of them. Your consultant is not there to be responsible for digitizing files. However, some deployment partners, like CCP Global, can provide the client with a legacy contract upload file prior to the start of deployment to begin the process of preparing contracts in an Ariba accepted format. How long the digitizing process will take depends upon how many contracts you have, access to the agreements, and where the current agreements are stored. For example, at companies with highly de-centralized contracting groups, or no legacy contract repository system, it will typically take much longer to gather all the required files than it will at companies that are currently working with a single centralized digital repository.
  • Identify legacy contracts that need to be uploaded into the system. Analyze the major templates to determine common content. Decide on the contract template you want to build. Analyze current document structure to determine any unique formatting or and how could interact with a clause library. Identify any clauses that might be used in the contracts. Taking these steps with your legal contacts in advance can limit the time that your consultant has to spend during the Explore phase of your project getting a handle on your existing agreements. That allows you to better focus on your future state goals.

3. Advanced Considerations

If you’ve determined that you want the full suite of features, i.e. a repository with contract creation and full authoring, here are some additional areas you’ll want to prepare.

  • Analyze your contract templates and determine common content as well as prioritize any contract templates to be built into the system as part of deployment. Although you can technically author as many agreements as you want, formatting these contracts for authoring and maintaining the formatting in Ariba is complex. You may choose to only author one or a handful of agreements, rather than every agreement that your organization uses.
  • If you are going to use authoring you’ll need to identify additional, preferred, alternate and fallback clauses. That is, any clauses you want built into a clause library that legal has approved for use in their agreements. That allows contract creators to substitute these pre-approved clauses without any legal intervention, which helps decrease the legal departments involvement for many standard contracting processes.

One important thing to consider when choosing the right contracts deployment partner is to determine if they have an available consultant who is not just an Ariba expert, but also a contracts expert. This person can give you higher-level advice on things like common content, advise on where content is lacking, or suggest better cases for preferred and alternate fallback clauses.

That type of experience can make your Ariba contract management deployment more efficient and cost effective, as well as setting you up for long-term success.

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