Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CONTRACT MANAGEMENT AND DOCUMENT REVIEW ARE CRYING OUT FOR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT, AUTOMATION AND UPDATE.


This article is an attempt to explore the potential of technological utility in transforming analytical data into work product. However we would be circumscribing ourselves to two most important legal processes being outsourced. This article will attempt to overview the existing platforms for document review and contract management and will envisage towards developing the ideal module with edge cutting capabilities.

INTRODUCTION: - Document review (a/k/a doc review) as popularly understood is an assignment undertaken by an attorney in anticipation of legal proceeding or during the discovery phase of litigation. Primarily Document Review rivet huge amount of data into useful work product. Document review postulates attorney to review the relevance and/or responsiveness of documents, by employing the facts of the case and the ratio. Later stages of document review (also known as privilege review or second level review) further analyzes privileged (on the basis of attorney-client communication and/or work product) and may be either withheld from production or redacted for content. The actual review of the documents is performed electronically (e-mails, files, scanned copies of documents). With proliferation in electronically stored data, an e-discovery first level document review estimates 75% of the average litigation cost. Data explosion, technological evolution, and the sudden increase in electronic stored information has catalyzed technical role, as the total quantity of documents has multiplied several times over the years. Besides in litigation, document review is also performed in matters of regulatory compliance, merger and acquisition and corporate due diligence.

PLATFORM:- whether through FTP, remote desktop or other networking concept as soon as the ESI (Electronic stored information) is received for review, an idle platform should give best technology integration to accomplish purposes.

Document review platforms have, for some time now, offered the possibility of order, control and cost-avoidance. These tools promise easy organization of large document collections, ready access for reviewing attorneys, status reports and programmatic production of relevant materials. Unfortunately, all too often, their promises fall flat. Available tools are limited by shortcomings in the areas of security, flexibility and scalability – issues which severely limit an organization's ability to use them successfully. Most often they behave like idiots to your command and at times completely collapse with 1. Reading different file formats, 2. Cluster operations, 3. Segregating duplicates or near duplicates, 4. Setting of milestones and 5. Quality concerns.

One by one illustration of these issues is necessary to clarify behavioral expectations and perfect technological integration desire. File formats. Recognizing the entire different files format (including but not limited to gif, excel, movie player, ppt and zip) and the platform's ability to present it within desired layout in an understandable form is a challenge many platform fail to meet. Many platforms are outdated and do not recognize WIN 2007 files. The platform must be intelligible enough to extract zip files. Cluster and duplicates though used interchangeably is remarkably different concept. The best platform must offer the choice of flexibility in determining the percentage of similar contents to mark duplicates. Duplicates must be clustered well and a flexible but intelligible approach is desired to give similar treatment to all duplicate and cluster, which most platforms miss out. Milestone. Should not only be limited to distances covered in the DR assignment but must give a graphical depiction of work done and the ability to compare with personal and other records. My dream platform would also track the number of clicks and ticks and would tell me the exact idle amount of time wasted by each reviewer. Quality. Provision of a milestone in quality is also desired from the platforms. A true high-end user friendly platform should have the ability of generating quality reports vis-à-vis milestones. This feature lacks in most platforms.

So am I claiming the world? No, many of these problems have been consistently faced because of no improvement in the reviewer interface with the platform. My dream platform would have short keys for marking of documents, and the marked docs would be saved automatically and the new doc pop-ups in the interface. This would limit and answer half the concerns and would increase the efficiency.

CONTRACT MANAGEMENT: - Contract Management is often confused with document management and repository. Though both of them are related to Contract Management the scope is much broader. Contract Management or contract administration is the management of contracts made with customers, vendors, partners, or employees. It is a methodical management of contract from inception to conclusion. Contract management includes negotiating the terms and conditions in contracts and ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions, as well as documenting and agreeing any changes that may arise during its implementation or execution. Only if parties are aware of the deliverables in agreements can they take pre-emptive and anticipatory action on critical contract milestones and triggers.

Organizations are typically good at certifying payments to suppliers, but not good at ensuring compliance of contract obligations. Conversely, Suppliers do not always maximize the potential of each customer relationship. Lost revenues and over-expenditure occur when parties lack good systems in place. Since Contract Management is the process of systematically and efficiently managing contract creation, execution, and analysis for the purpose of maximizing financial and operational performance and minimizing risk. CM Software has the responsibility of managing the contract life-cycle, from identification of a need, through negotiation, agreement, monitoring, and close-out. Many software developers concentrate too much on terms like signing date, effective date, termination date, expiry, automatic renewal (ever greening) and signatory to compromise with other vital terms like indemnity, warranty, inspection, liability, payment and penalties. Change is also desired in the interface, perfect Contract Management software should pop-up like a calendar showing all milestone and decisive actions to be taken for each and every day on the entire contract repository in the database.

To wit, the consequences of reliance on substandard Contract Management software can cost dearly and choosing good software with multifaceted feature can save beyond imagination. Not that we have an option, except to wait for some charismatic software's to come. Suffice it is to say at the conclusion that there is only one difference between LPO of Contract Management and software companies handling Contract Management stuff, that is indigenous technology that the later possesses. An attempt is being made by Contract Management software companies to outsource repository and other core competencies to India (Pontus to begin with and many to follow), which will broaden their horizon and limit costs.

3 comments:

Ashish Kumar said...

Informative post.

Matthew said...

During these days when a contract is nothing to most companies who are only after the perks of a closed deal, the possibilities of risks emerge among many of those who have failed to sustain their business right. These risks range from the inability to accomplish projects down to the mishandling of employees.

contract management process

general manager said...

I really like your shared information,..Best way of dealing with business best documentation is the is of "Document Automation Software" ,..

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