Em-eukal, Rheila or aecht Bayrischer Blockmalz – many people have known Soldan’s sweet products since childhood. Reasons for the success include: high-quality products, a strong brand image, but also the continuous further development of all business processes in the 120-year history of the company. Digitalisation plays a central role in the current process optimisation in contract management.
Claudia Röthel works as a lawyer in the legal department of Soldan. She notes: “The employees in the specialist departments are aware that contracts with our suppliers, customers or partners are the basis of our business activity.” The lawyer’s goal is to also raise awareness of the importance of maintaining and monitoring the contract portfolio. In order to optimise the monitoring of contract deadlines as well as contract research, Claudia Röthel initiated a revision of the contract management processes.
Replace paper-based system
The previous contract management system worked analogously: The departments handed over paper contracts to the central contract archive and organised the monitoring of contract deadlines independently.
Automated deadline monitoring cannot be implemented in a paper-based system. For the Soldan legal department, it became apparent that a switch to a central, digital system would simplify contract management.
After examining different providers, the company opted for otris software. “The overall package of user-friendliness, requirements coverage and costs fits with otris contract,” Claudia Röthel summarises the basis for the decision. “It was also important to us that the software allows individual customisation of workflows.” The reason: the system should not only automatically monitor contract deadlines, but also control the contract review process according to company-specific specifications. After consulting and a workshop, otris-Consulting implemented the chosen system variant.
Digital mapping of workflows
Approximately 75 employees throughout the company have access to the application. Each main department defines so-called key users who are responsible for creating and maintaining the digitised contracts. Before a contract is entered into the database, a workflow controls the contract review. Draft contracts created by Soldan and contract offers received by Soldan in draft form have to be reviewed from a technical, business and legal point of view. The draft document is passed through the company for review. otris contract controls this process by notifying the relevant employees as soon as a document is available for them to review. The employee releases the document or returns it to the review loop with comments. Once the contract review is complete, the system notifies that the draft is ready for signature.
After signing a contract, the key user digitises the document to assign it to the electronic file. In addition to the contract document, this file contains all related correspondence (notes, e-mails, terms of delivery, etc.). The key user assigns each electronic file to the responsible company unit and the respective contract type.
Search for contracts
The entire digitised contract inventory is stored in a central database – divided into categories and provided with metadata (e.g. contract partner or contract date). This structuring is a prerequisite for fast and convenient research. For example, the user can use filter and sort functions to display all current contracts concluded with a specific contractual partner in a specific year.
In addition to the structured search, otris contract offers users a full text search: the OCR function in otris contract recognises text in scanned documents. The user can thus not only search for metadata, but also search the entire content of the contract file for individual words.
Using the advantages in practice
“In my day-to-day business, I really appreciate the fact that I can find out very quickly whether a contract exists with a party or not – that saves a lot of time”, Claudia Röthel explains one of the advantages of the contract management software. Another advantage is the added security. Compared to paper-based contract archiving, deadline monitoring is simple: when a new contract is created, the key user activates the deadline warning. At a predefined point in time, in good time before a termination or renewal deadline, the system notifies the responsible employee. If the employee does not react, the system starts a workflow that notifies other employees according to defined criteria. “With the new system, we not only minimise the risk of missing deadlines. The software gives us an overview. A glance at the digital file cover shows the core data for each contract, uniformly structured. Employees do not have to search laboriously for a term in the contract content, but see it immediately when they call up the selected contract file,” Claudia Röthel explains.
Shaping the future
The new contract management system is being rolled out step by step. Claudia Röthel and her team have developed short training courses for staff who are not yet familiar with the system. After all, replacing a familiar system always involves learning. “It is not surprising that a changeover from paper to digital does not work at the push of a button. But the advantages we already derive from the system and especially the advantages we will derive from the system as soon as it is fully established justify the acquisition costs and the effort. I am very satisfied with otris contract and the support provided by the consulting team,” Claudia Röthel sums up the project.