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Q&A: New approaches to automate contract management (Includes interview)

In order to capture the entirety of Boys Town’s contracts and their lifecycles, the nonprofit needed a complex contract lifecycle solution capable of supporting 25 workflow approvals, seven different tables of daily ERP imports, and numerous customized fields on 13 distinct types of contracts. The organization opted for Agiloft.

As Colin Earl, CEO at Agiloft explains, within six months of deploying Agiloft, Boys Town now has more than 25 users actively managing and approving thousands of contracts on the platform. This led to improved internal communication across departments and productivity and time savings.

Digital Journal spoke with Colin Earl to find out more about automating contract lifecycle management.

Digital Journal: What is the remit of Boys Town?

Colin Earl: Originally established in 1917, Boys Town is now one of the largest child and family care organizations in the US. Boys Town’s research-proven practices have changed the lives of children and families across the country. Based in Omaha, Nebraska, the non-profit supports more than 2 million people each year with services that may include housing, advocacy, and behavioral health education.

Boys Town selected Agiloft to implement a highly configurable, automated system to track and manage all contracts across their organization. This solution needed to capture the unique requirements of three separate Boys Town divisions. Each division handled very different aspects of their business and their needs were so diverse they may as well have been three separate organizations.

To fulfill these needs, we were engaged to provide an integrated Contract and Commerce Lifecycle Management (CCLM) system that would work for the entire organization and serve as a single source for truth to ensure contractual consistency going forward.

DJ: What contract lifecycle management challenges did the organization face?

Earl: Boys Town’s diversity of services and their critical role in the community resulted in a complex and shifting operational framework. While they prided themselves on applying the latest behavioral science practices to their programs, they had yet to dedicate the same degree of attention to internal business processes. Without a central repository or automation, each department and individual had their own approach to contract lifecycle management.

To capture the entirety of the organization’s contracts and adjacent processes, they required contract and commerce lifecycle management software capable of supporting 25 workflow approvals, seven different tables of daily ERP imports, and numerous customized fields on 13 distinct types of contracts.

With minimal overlap or standardization across divisions, Boys Town was challenged with finding a platform capable of capturing three separate and distinct operations and uniting them under a streamlined solution. Boys Town’s National Research Hospital, purchasing department, and youth care division would all rely upon the new software for their extremely diverse needs and requirements.

A key challenge underlying this project were requirements for advanced, multi-layer security on all systems, as well as integration with other applications to populate key contract fields.

DJ: What was the advantage of seeking a single CLM solution?

Earl: Boys Town knew they needed an automated contract solution but weren’t sure they could find one capable of meeting their unique requirements. Our extensible contract and commerce lifecycle management (CCLM) solution enables them to standardize more of what they do as well as track contracts and related data while in process. It unifies the organization through customized tables and workflows to capture unique practices across the three divisions while enhancing enterprise communication through information sharing. The most important advantage of this is the enhanced security and compliance achieved by bringing all sensitive data into one secured platform with precise permission controls.

Another key advantage of the single CCLM solution we implemented is its ability to grow and change over time. Its intuitive administrator interface allows users to extend benefits to other business processes within the organization. Opting to send one of their team members through our training, that employee then built a custom auditing application within our no-code framework.

As more use cases present themselves, Boys Town is excited to apply its custom Agiloft solution. There are no additional fees that come with extending the solution to these other areas so the possibilities to automate and streamline operations are seemingly endless.

DJ: How does the Agiloft solution help with productivity?

Earl: A nonprofit organization’s success relies on creating efficiency at every opportunity and automating a CCLM strategy is a powerful way to boost productivity. Six months after deploying our CCLM solution, Boys Town has more than 25 users actively managing and approving thousands of contracts on the platform.

With Boys Town’s Agiloft CCLM solution in place, inter-enterprise communication has vastly improved. This has resulted in streamlined workflows, clear reporting, enhanced data security, and improved business processes and productivity company wide.

The resulting productivity advancements and time savings enable Boys Town to reallocate precious resources toward their philanthropic mission to save children, heal families, and strengthen communities.

DJ: How was the Agiloft solution implemented?

Earl: Boys Town opted for an aggressive deployment plan that included incorporating all contract types, workflows, and unique fields across all three divisions within their first build-out. With more than 25 users actively managing and approving contracts, user adoption was critical for success.

Additionally, all contracts are initially created outside of Boys Town, so they come with fields and data that are outside any parameters that they set. Some of these contracts, such as those related to youth care, have critical requirements that Boys Town must abide, necessitating regular review and precision accuracy. Ensuring this accuracy entailed working within our software to create multiple tables and corresponding tabs that reflected how their business functioned.

We also needed to ensure the accuracy of sizable and timely data sharing across other Boys Town applications. To do this, we made certain that their seven nightly imports from their Banner ERP corresponded precisely to our fields. These fields included revenue codes, expense costs, cost centers, employee information, and locations. With our no-code platform we were able to easily create these fields to sync with their ERP imports.

In addition to Boys Town CCLM’s unique structure and design, they also required industry-leading security. Meeting the nonprofit’s standard on data protection, our solution features an encryption/decryption script triggered to run each night, ensuring the highest level of security for data across all servers.

DJ: How does the Agiloft solution differ to competitor products?

Earl: The way in which we leverage no-code technology clearly differentiates us from our competitors and provides unique value to our customers. Our platform enables our pre-built and custom applications to be tailored to exact customer needs without writing custom code. This significantly reduces deployment times and system costs. It is estimated that no-code software automatically reduces an average software deployment timeframe by 80 percent.

Another benefit to our no-code technology is its scalability. When purchasing volume increases, new business departments are added and contract numbers rise. No-code platforms allow for continual structures and complexity to be built upon them. They do not require custom coding for expansion or include user restrictions or limits to the size of the platform.

We see no-code technology and CCLM as having the potential to transform the CLM industry. Once companies understand the value generated by deploying a single extensible solution for contracts and adjacent commercial processes, they can implement a CCLM strategy to build highly configurable workflows and automate processes across multiple key business areas without writing a single line of code. Not only does this boost operational efficiencies, it also enhances security and compliance by unifying all sensitive company and customer data into one secured solution. This was certainly the case with the CCLM solution we developed and implemented for Boys Town.

Our rapid deployment and nonprofit-friendly pricing have helped us develop a strong presence within this sector. In addition to Boys Town, our nonprofit customers include Project HOME, Northern Rivers, Safe Horizon, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative among others.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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