Calling all School Business Managers! School contract management, when done correctly, can be one of the most straightforward aspects of the role. Yet, it’s also one of the tasks SBLs often find themselves bumping down the list of things to do as other, more ‘urgent’ jobs take priority. We’re on a mission to change this! For, effective contract management can single-handedly be one of the most time-saving, resource-enhancing, and bottom line-improving activities within both schools and Trusts.
Not all contracts are the same! Contract terms are not standard across all products, services or companies. One of the more common variations is what happens when the contract approaches its expiry and what to do about it.
In many cases, the contract will simply expire if not renewed. Sometimes, the contract will continue unless formally terminated. In either scenario, action needs to be taken – you will either lose continuity of service, pay a higher premium, or commit to a new term. Often, the terms of renewal reflects the pricing model of the company, meaning it’s common for things like software products to renew automatically – they’re paid for by subscription. On the other hand, services tend to expire or renew for a limited/set period.
Let’s not forget that there are contract periods and dates to consider. Not all contracts start and end conveniently around your financial years. With multiple contracts in play that commence at different times with varying lengths, it’s no wonder that start, end, and renewal contract dates can quickly become difficult to keep on top of!
What’s more, one of the most common mistakes that’s easy to make is only recording the largest/most significant contracts. Yet, it’s often the smaller contracts (like those software subscriptions) that can slip through the cracks and cause conflict.
Add to that differing, and frequently complex, cancellation terms, and contract management can soon spiral out of control. We say it’s time to gain that control back. And it shouldn’t feel like an uphill struggle!
Every’s Contract Management module makes up part of our Compliance Management software. Dedicated to streamlining all activities relating to contracts, from those all-important dates to comparison of numerous suppliers, it’s empowering schools and trusts up and down the country to not only manage the contract, but its wider impact within the organisation, too.
Users are alerted to upcoming notice dates via advanced reminders for each and every contract they have uploaded to the system. This ensures the user has ample time to review the performance of the current supplier, as well as compare their offering against other providers on the market.
Whether your trust has outgrown a resource, or it has been flagged as inadequate, you are empowered to find the most suitable alternative in good time. For instance, when a broadband supply has consistent issues, all school processes, from teaching and learning through to back-office human resources activities, face disruption and annoyance.
New quotes and service details can then be reviewed and matched against the existing supplier’s, empowering better decision-making that takes into account the full impact of the contract, not only its cost. What’s more, the Every® platform will even display alternative service suppliers, further encouraging effective procurement decisions.
Combine this tool with the ability to add notes to each contract’s file and links to regularly-occurring activities and reactive problems (think of the water cooler and regular filter change to ensure safe drinking water) and you start to feel your finger is back on the pulse. You’re also on stronger grounds for contractual negotiations, if and when they occur.
Having evidence to hand for any negotiation or dispute puts you in the driving seat. We’d encourage you to add key information to contract files, including:
- Service-level agreement meeting notes
- Key contacts
- Significant communications between the organisation and contractor
- Delivery notes and risk assessments
- Financial records
- Insurance, indemnities, deeds, and/or licence documentation
- Internal and external comments from inspections and audits, supported by photographs (where possible)
- General use comments (from staff)
Such information helps keep everything in one place so it’s easy to report for each of your contracts, including a forecast of future costs. That’s the welcome supplement you didn’t know you needed – but now will not want to live without – when budgeting and making strategic financial decisions!
Once you and other relevant parties have acquired this enhanced visibility over the contracts in play at your school or trust, you soon begin to reap the rewards. Say you have added favourable notes about user-ease to a learning software provider’s contract file, this insight can be used when searching for additional, related services.
Perhaps that same supplier has another product launching later this year – such notes can strengthen relationships, contributing to higher support levels and the ability to negotiate discounts a little more favourably!
Or, let’s say you’ve got an increased pupil count.- the notes section can be used to detail your school’s new demands from the service. When the time comes for the renewal conversation, you are already equipped with any specifications or suggestions you have to ensure the contract continues to maintain your expectation.
Are you ready to step up your contract management?
Find out how our software can support you by speaking with one of our specialists!