Earlier this year, we published on Spend Matters PRO Metadata Explained: What it Means for Spend Analytics, Supply Risk, Supplier Performance, and More, which we’ve temporarily made available for free download. The research brief revolved around the question: What is metadata? Our answer is simple: “Although not quite metaphysical, metadata is essentially data about data. Some libraries still use drawers upon drawers with small index cards about the books in their collection – that’s perhaps the most famous example of metadata, albeit basic.”
Metadata is of particular interest and importance within contract management – and the topic is even timelier now given Selectica’s acquisition of Iasta. On a previous webinar on the topic, my colleague Peter Smith and I made a number of observations on the topic, starting by noting that some metadata are practically trivial, such as the name and type of contract, contracting parties, and dates of the contract.
Things get more interesting as you peel the figurative onion. Another procurement perspective layer can include such areas as price, quantities, delivery time, discounts, rebates, payment terms, expiration, and renewal dates – which are typically added to alerts and used to integrate with other software solutions such as ERP and e-procurement solutions.
With contracts, software solutions add another dimension to metadata, including authors, creation date, access and edit histories, even access attempts! More advanced metadata includes change of control clauses, counterparty credit risk, corporate group affiliation of the counterparty, and classification under both accounting and regulatory classification schema – data points that are far harder to automate and require experienced human assessment.
Metadata can prove invaluable not only in assessing overall contract exposure and risk (e.g., evaluating aggregate risk in a potential acquisition target based on contract and related contract information), but also in helping identify opportunities for improving the actual contracting and supplier engagement process. If you’re not considering your strategy for using metadata in contract management today, you should be!