The Contract Management Category

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

Most procurement organizations have only started to explore the full set of capabilities that integrated contract lifecycle management (CLM) capabilities can bring. Yet in most cases today – outside of procurement organizations deploying integrated suite-based contract management technologies, many of which offer limited capabilities relative to independent CLM vendors – CLM remains loosely coupled from overall procurement processes, including sourcing, supplier management, transactional buying, contract compliance and risk management. Agiloft, one of dozens of independent CLM providers out there, offers a means of creating a synthetic process- and data-driven “hub” beyond providing core contract management capabilities alone.

Agiloft’s history, which we trace in this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series, includes over a decade spent developing and refining its core business rules and business process management (BPM) engine. While these two capabilities now come standard with other procurement and CLM technologies, to say they are all created equal would be as incorrect as labeling all source-to-pay platforms equal. While sounding technical on the surface, these two areas are the defining elements that help differentiate the vendor today in terms of what they can enable procurement to achieve (beyond the expected CLM basics). In addition, they enable Agiloft to serve as a new type of project and process orchestration platform to unite other technologies and data sets.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Agiloft’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should shortlist the vendor. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Agiloft in the CLM area. Next up, this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (Part 4: Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning)

NLP

In this final installment of our series on artificial intelligence in contract management, we turn our attention to natural language processing (NLP). In earlier posts in this series, I mentioned chatbots and the Turing test, both of which require NLP. I also mentioned machine learning and the process of classifying text to the domain-specific ontologies that model commercial knowledge. At this point, you may have wondered, “Yeah, but how the heck do I actually model and extract all of this knowledge out of our existing contract documents in the first place?”

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (Part 3: Knowledge Reasoning)

In the last two installments of this AI in CLM — Artificial Intelligence in Contract Lifecycle Management — series of considerations for procurement practitioners, I introduced the topic and then dove into the concept of knowledge representation which discussed the importance of building a contract domain knowledge model in the form of a rich repository of contract clauses and related data (e.g., risks) and metadata – not just contract document artifacts. In fact, more broadly, you can think of concepts such as contracts, clauses, obligations, risks, remedies, milestones, suppliers, etc. as classes of “objects” that represent the knowledge of those physical/logical entities. These objects are increasingly richly classified, attributed, and interconnected (beyond traditional relational database models used in ERP-type systems), but making sense of them is where reasoning comes in.

Agiloft: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

contract

The contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology market includes dozens of different technology providers, many of which provide additional buy-side (e.g., strategic sourcing, transactional procurement, etc.) or sell-side (quote-to-cash) capabilities. Some of these vendors are well known in the market, having invested heavily in sales and marketing for many years. Others are not. One provider in the latter camp that recently caught our attention after a round of briefings and demonstrations is Agiloft. Today, Agiloft covers all the standard contract lifecycle management components (which we’ll explore in this series in detail). These enabling capabilities include core contract authoring, repository and lifecycle management capabilities. But how Agiloft stands out within the highly crowded CLM market actually owes more to its core technology underpinnings and adjacent capabilities than the CLM features alone that sit on top of its architectural stack. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations, suppliers and partners make informed decisions about Agiloft’s contract lifecycle management (CLM) and related capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Agiloft in the CLM area. The rest of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management (Part 2: Knowledge Representation)

In the first part of this series, I introduced the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) in contract management. Today, I’ll touch on AI itself and the first of its areas that will be highlighted in this series: knowledge representation. AI systems are computer systems that emulate (and even surpass) human intelligence needed to perform valued tasks. The Turing test for an AI expert system is whether it is indistinguishable from a human expert that is communicating via, say, a “chatbot” interface. An AI-based CLM system would therefore be able to embody the collective intelligence of contracting professionals (internal and/or outsourced) into computer systems used during ongoing contracting strategy, negotiations and monitoring.

BravoSolution: Solution Review & Analysis [Plus+]

The procurement technology and solutions market, inclusive of source-to-contract (S2C) and procure-to-pay (P2P) technology segments, is one with a wide degree of choice for customers. Procurement organizations that want to prioritize absolute capability in specific functional areas (modules) or technology innovation (e.g., platform as a service) can have their pick of providers. Organizations that want integrated suite capabilities also have an array of choices, and those that want to prioritize usability and adoption in targeted or broader areas can also select from an increasingly healthy list of options.

But if you want a broader combination of these capabilities in a single provider, the choices narrow significantly, especially at the suite level. At the intersection of these requirements is where BravoSolution comes in. This source-to-contract provider that historically has partnered for procure-to-pay capabilities — and will soon have its own P2P solution based on initially integrating and enhancing and ultimately re-platforming Puridiom, a recently acquired asset — excels compared with its peers at meeting the intersection of these requirements. This Spend Matters Plus analysis provides an introduction to BravoSolution for procurement organizations looking to understand whether they should consider adding the provider to their shortlists for consideration and competitive alternatives.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Commentary and Summary Analysis [PRO]

Spend Matters research suggests 2017 is likely to be the year that advanced procurement organizations generally start to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capability into targeted business processes. There are a number of reasons for this, primarily involving the maturity of different sets of technology and the increasing embedded nature of these underlying tools in broader solutions, ranging from real-time translation and chat to spend classification to guided buying to contract search, discovery and analytics.

Systems that learn and constantly get smarter are here to stay in procurement – and they can make us smarter as well. Such is the case of Seal Software when it comes to its ability to create a virtuous cycle in identifying, analyzing and ultimately influencing contract obligations and performance based on an underlying discovery and analytics foundation that complements contract lifecycle management (CLM) and other procurement technology investments.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Seal Software provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as substitute providers to Seal Software and provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that can best take advantage of Seal’s capabilities.

Artificial Intelligence in Contract Management: Considerations for Practitioners (Part 1)

In case you haven't noticed, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a very big deal in business. And there is perhaps no area where the impact of AI systems (i.e., systems that exhibit intelligent behavior) will be felt more than in legal departments and, more broadly, in the area of managing contracts. Consider the enormity of collective knowledge that makes up commercial law and amount of money spent translating the semi-structured “legalese” that enshrouds what should be logical business constructs that sit at the core.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

What is a contract? Distilled to its essence, a contract is an agreement that defines one or multiple obligations between parties. A contract could be as simple as a standard mutual non-disclosure agreement or a relatively short agreement to purchase goods in exchange for a payment. In more complex cases, a contract could be a complex swap agreement in which cash (or credit) does not change hands but various good, obligations, raw materials, finished products, derivative products or other commitments do (trading companies are especially familiar with these types of scenarios).

All of these examples have one thing in common: they represent binding agreements between parties. Yet in most procurement organizations today, we are typically not aware of the majority of the contracts that we directly — or those in the business — have created.

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions can help bring certain contracts under management –– much as we bring “spend” under management from a purchasing perspective. Yet just as e-procurement solutions do not address the full continuum of spend, so too do CLM solutions fail to address all the procurement and third-party obligations that our companies have already created in the past, or may create in the future, outside a CLM tool. And this is why Seal Software, the pioneer of the contract discovery, search and analytics sector, presents a compelling case that all organizations, regardless of where they are in their digital procurement transformation journey, should invest separately in a contract intelligence strategy, alongside procurement technology suites and CLM.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Seal Software’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider this class of solution alongside other CLM, P2P and other procurement technology investments. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface.

Seal Software: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) –– Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

Spend analytics tools generally stand alone from other areas of procurement systems. And so do contract analytics solutions from both procurement and contract lifecycle management (CLM) technologies. Yet contract analytics, when looked at from search, discovery, reporting and guidance angles, is arguably a much more menacing beast to tackle compared with structured procurement transactional data coming from ERP/AP, e-procurement, invoicing and card sources. And there are far fewer providers specializing in the market for contract discovery and analytics compared to spend analytics, which is no surprise given the complexity in the challenge. Seal Software is one of them and offers capability that is a complement to standard contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions in the market today.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations make informed decisions about Seal Software’s contract discovery and analytic capability, its suitability for specific contract lifecycle management (CLM) requirements, and other offerings that an organization may want to consider as an alternative (or alongside). Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Seal in the procurement technology area. Part 2 and Part 3 of this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot will cover product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

BravoSolution: The Globalist of Procurement Tech Providers — Year-End Tech Review

MBO Partners

This post is part of our 2016 Year-End Procurement Tech Review, in which we offer procurement practitioners a bird’s-eye view of some key vendors and their solutions in select categories. This week, we’re highlighting companies in the sourcing (including e-sourcing) and supplier management spaces.

BravoSolution is perhaps the most international of all procurement technology suite providers. The Chicago-based firm delivers a core source-to-pay (S2P) suite (consisting of modules that can be individually or collectively licensed) that includes spend analysis, sourcing, sourcing optimization, supplier management, savings tracking and contract lifecycle management (CLM) along with advanced category sourcing technologies targeted at the transportation, packaging, facilities and MRO categories.

SirionLabs: The Technology Provider for Post-Signature Contract Management — Year-End Tech Review

This post is part of our 2016 Year-End Procurement Tech Review series, in which we offer procurement practitioners a bird’s-eye view of some key vendors and their solutions in select categories. This week, we’re highlighting companies in the sourcing (including e-sourcing) and supplier management spaces.

As businesses, we are increasingly buying outcomes rather than widgets or labor. Yet the general market for procurement technology still reflects a world in which we source, procure, contract and manage supplier relationships based on models that track to underlying SKUs or hourly bill rates rather than partnership-based outcomes. SirionLabs is one of the few technology providers working to change this. It has built a suite focused on managing all aspects of complex supplier relationships after a negotiation has taken place, starting with contract authoring and proceeding to steady-state performance, relationship and risk management.