Managing Professional Services Contract Data: More Than Just "Housekeeping"
Artificial Intelligence for contract review can be the first step in digital transformation
As a professional services firm, to say that your contracts are the lifeblood of your business would be like saying water is wet. When the cash flow into your business and your business risk are determined by the terms agreed upon by you and your clients, the documents that establish and solidify those terms are crucially important.
For many businesses, though, once a contract is signed it gets treated like a simple matter of “housekeeping” – necessary from an administrative standpoint, but not as important as, say, the actual client work itself. As long as the documents get reviewed, approved, and signed, contract review and analysis are often treated as a low priority when it comes to modernizing and optimizing the organization’s processes and workflows.
This mentality, however, can be a bit of a trap – and potentially a very costly one. Even for businesses that rarely run into issues with their contracts, getting more insights and business leverage from key documents and operations can drive increased business impact and efficiency, particularly in areas like client communications, project management, and client satisfaction.
Out of sight is out of mind - and for contracts, that's not a good thing
Manual contract review and data extraction requires time, effort, personnel, and cost. So it’s easy to ignore or de-prioritize. And the highly detailed nature of the work means it’s often error-prone.
The cost and tedium often means that this administrative or legal work simply does not happen regularly.
But modernizing this key component of business operations can make a tremendous difference in the efficiency and competitiveness of your firm.
What you don't know can't help you
Unlocking the data in your contracts and other documents can advance productivity, insight, competitiveness, and compliance.
- Productivity is not just saving time but accomplishing more. When reviewing contract information requires just minutes and not hours, reviews can happen more often, to keep everything on track. Just as important, it frees up time for strategy, execution, and employee or customer interaction.
- Compliance means focusing on written obligations. When promises are buried in long contractual documents, it is too easy to lose them in the legalese. Surfacing obligations for focus, pulling them out of the fine print, clarifies their priority for action.
- Insight comes from seeing the data and acting on it. Renewal dates mean potential for continued or expanded business. On-time payment avoids penalty fees. Required milestones and deliverables are central to customer satisfaction and success. Pricing data indicates trends, value, comparisons, and shrinkage or growth. Actions can flow from these cues.
- Your contracts reflect the best practices for your business, and the worst. When circumstances change, some provisions that worked for your business previously may no longer be workable. Or perhaps you accepted a less-than-optimal contract provision in a negotiation, but you don’t want to live with it forever. In the hustle of running a professional services company and meeting client needs, it’s easy to lose track of contract provisions that need to be changed. Hidden away as long-form documents, contracts can become static boundaries; but when the brought into the light, they can be dealt with.
- Optimizing your work with contracts can give your business a significant edge over the competition. Considering, again, that contracts are an integral and required fact of life for professional services firms, improving your internal processes can help you beat out other firms who still rely on a more manual, time-consuming approach. Greater insight and efficiency can extend beyond just your final work contracts, and transform how you deal with Requests for Information (RFI’s), Requests for Proposals (RFP’s), Scopes of Work (SOW’s), reports, invoices and more. The more of these steps you can streamline, the less time and energy is spent simply trying to win the contract or manage the work – and the reduced “cost of doing business” may also make for a more competitive bid.
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Embracing AI assistance for professional services contracts
Starting an artificial intelligence project can be daunting. Getting clear ROI and results from a project can be even more difficult. Trusting artificial intelligence to do the right thing is not always a good idea.
But what if AI could simply do what you ask it to do, and in minutes pull out the data that you need from your dozens or hundreds of contracts? What if the AI acted as the world’s most efficient sous-chef for you and your team, but all the final decisions were made or reviewed by humans? What if you could automate how key data is captured from new contracts coming in? And what if you could automate how document data flows into other business systems, where it is needed? Could artificial intelligence simply gather the material you need to create new proposals, to win new business?
Professional services firms that are open to practical applications of AI like this will see important short-term benefits from greater insights, greater efficiency, deeper customer engagement, and more consistent and compliant business operations. And that adds up to big competitive advantages and opportunities over the long run.
Learn how Docugami’s breakthrough AI delivers value on Day One, unlocking critical business information from your documents.