Being able to track the progress of each contract as it moves through the process can provide benefits both internally and externally.
Internally, it allows stakeholders and process coordinators to communicate effectively and clearly through the progression of the service agreement. It also provides extra assurance that processing is being completed accurately. Utilizing external checks—from the business, vendor or HCP—provides those groups with additional transparency and accessibility, giving them a clearer understanding of the process and timeframes and what is required to ensure that agreements are processed quickly.
Many different systems are typically used at different stages of contracting. Any given company may use a combination of email, Adobe, SharePoint, Salesforce, Teams, Microsoft Office, or other programs. There are also tools for transparency reporting, finance, legal, and procurement as well as in-company repositories like shared drives.
Because the contracting process puzzle has so many pieces and so many players, creating visibility—by connecting each of the steps and keeping all parties in the loop—can ensure awareness is raised when there are issues and improvements are made where needed so the process runs smoothly for all involved.
There are some key steps in creating and maintaining visibility:
- Educate: Make sure all stakeholders know what the process entails. Documenting the stages will create the process framework, help with consistency and make it more apparent at what stages to create checkpoints. It will also help with planning ahead since a good timeline for completion of each stage can be created and provided when needed. It’s a good idea to have multiple checkpoints during the contracting process, like after the contract is drafted a reviewed within the process team, for example. Or when Legal provides feedback and when the contract goes to the Business Owner for final approval.
- Communicate: Keep everyone informed about the status of contracts. Hold regular meetings with stakeholders to recap and discuss any contracting concerns and successes. Also, create ways for stakeholders to stay informed between meetings (if they choose to). This could be through email updates, targeted reports, or automated notifications when a contract moves from one stage to another. Hands-on business owners will be able to have a clearer picture of when action was taken on their agreements.
- Validate: Identify and address any issues prior to the contract approval process. For example, have a team member double-check highly important information (particularly payment information) when the draft is complete, prior to routing for signature, and prior to issuing payment. Or send the HCP an email of the drafted contract prior to it being sent for signatures. These extra review stages could save time and put extra sets of eyes on the contract.
- Communicate in a timely way to those who need the information. Contracts can be time-sensitive and many times there is not an ideal amount of time to get everyone contracted. The sooner a business owner knows about a delay that could derail an event, the easier it will be to plan an alternative. That could mean finding a different speaker for the event or changing the date of the event altogether. The more the business owner knows about the progress of the contract, the easier it will be for them to judge whether changes will be necessary.
At the end of the day, there are quite a few benefits to making sure visibility in contract processing is a priority. Peace of mind. Time saved. Consistency. Continuous improvement. Improved relationships.
Acceleration Point has established HCP contracting as a service program, with end-to-end visibility in one system. We check the status of each contract every day and keep line of sight to know when to escalate. We provide improved time to completion, consistent customer satisfaction, and excellent compliant ratings.
Visit our website to learn more about how we help operations teams improve their HCP contracting.