Contracting Growth — An Upside Update (Part 1)

At IACCM's EMEA event this week, I had the chance to catch up with Upside’s Ashif Mawji. For those who don't Upside, the largest remaining best-of-breed contract management vendor, you should. Upside has managed to build its contract management suite into a platform that truly bridges the end-to-end contracting gap -- from authoring to management to lifecycle contract costs. Along with Emptoris, they offer one of the richest sets of functionality in the market today. This depth has paid dividends for Upside in recent quarters. Over the past 12 months they have accelerated their growth rate, adding many new customers to the mix. But it's not just procurement driving the sales process -- legal is perhaps their most important constituent and advocate. And it's showing (at least in its ability to drive larger and more numerous deals than procurement can alone). By the end of the upcoming fiscal year, Upside will have doubled or tripled last year's growth rates, amounting to over 250 customers in total (and closing in on the 300 mark).

What's driving the growth? One of the major drivers is tight integration with legal workflow and process. Most recently, Upside announced an agreement between Workshare's Deltaview, a popular legal content management solution, and its own platform. But integration is just one aspect of where Upside differentiates itself. It's solutions go far beyond, for example, standard clause libraries and contract templates. By allowing companies to determine how they want to best govern template usage and to analyze past performance, they can drive organizations to better contracting that saves legal expense.

Consider the example of indemnification clauses. Perhaps an organization has defined five levels of indemnification agreements within its Upside contracts tool. Choice number 1 is the most one-sided (e.g., one-way indemnification + nasty legal mumbo-jumbo) while choice number 5 represents the choice that most favors the opposing party. Choice 3 might be joint indemnification. Perhaps in the past, choice 1 was the default clause in an agreement. But by analyzing where past agreements ended up, an organization might find that they agreed on choice 3 more than 80% of the time. However, over the course of a year, they could use Upside to come up with an analysis that shows they spent 800 hours to negotiate and redline agreements to get to choice 3 rather than choice 1. In the future, they might use this analysis to have the system suggest a tweaked version of 3 instead of choice 1.

In the course of a contract negotiation, Upside provides the ability to integrate with third-party applications for back and forth redlining while also allowing for the ability to interpret language at the clause level, creating risk scoring-type applications that allow legal and procurement to intelligently look at data versus simply the clauses. The net impact of this is a scoring approach that can either flag contracts for additional legal review or let them pass through a system based on their adjusted risk score, cutting legal costs and speeding up the contracting process.

I asked Ashif whether or not they were getting many questions on the power of Duet integration within SAP contracts. He said -- and take this with a grain of vendor-provided salt – that their own version of Duet "Upside Contract Office" is proving sufficient in their base. This capability mimics some of the features of Duet and allows users to manage part of the contracting process within the Office, linking this workflow directly into the Upside contract engine.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post when we examine additional enhancements as well as the role that new types of services (e.g., LPO -- legal process outsourcing) might play in the future of contract management

- Jason Busch

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