The Benefits of Contract Lifecycle Management Transformation
As government agencies undergo IT transformation, sometimes it seems that contract offices are left behind. Government procurement offices must comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which includes maintaining official contract files. Yet so many offices still rely on legacy contract writing systems, rudimentary internally built document filing systems, or paper-based printing and filing, with checklists as a hastily created tool to achieve compliance. It’s time government agencies invest resources to bring contract lifecycle management (CLM) up to date through the implementation of automated, low-code tools. Let’s unstuck government contracting officers so they can spend more time supporting the mission.
Complying with the FAR
As required by the FAR and agency mandates, government procurement offices must maintain auditable, repeatable, defendable, and legally enforceable contract files. According to FAR 4.802 regulation, a contract file must generally consist of:
To ensure compliance with these standards, procurement officials must follow and track specific workflows. Standardizing filing structures across the agency is the best way to comply with FAR 4.803.
Challenges with Past Steps to Improve the Compliance Process
When agencies rely on paper filing and legacy systems to write, track, and maintain their contract files—as they often do now—ensuring compliance with the FAR becomes a constantly unmitigated problem. Historically, contracts have been stored in dedicated rooms within contracting offices—wasting valuable real estate and not protecting contracts from natural disaster, fire, and human error.
Through SharePoint and a Contract Writing System, contract offices have attempted to digitize the CLM process, but such systems are too rigid and don’t ensure compliance with federal requirements. Nor do they offer the standardization or process efficiency that should be achieved when storing files electronically. Frequently procurement offices utilizing these systems still rely on paper filing and checklists and require their contract specialists to create each file manually.
A low-code solution can ensure compliance at every step of the CLM process. Truly modernizing systems will give staff more time to focus on tasks that can’t be automated.
There are multiple benefits to the architecture of a COTS, out-of-the-box CLM solution that can address the specific business requirements of federal procurement offices. For one thing, a CLM solution can satisfy the complex requirements of the FAR and other agency regulations through a well-organized and configurable filing structure and secure role-based permissions. Additionally, the solution can provide automated integration with third-party software such as BetaSAM, FPDS-NG, CPARS, FAPIIS, and other financial and supply management systems.
Our FedRAMP-authorized CLM solution, eCase Contracts, is uniquely centered around the contract file, with configurable dashboards, workflow, and templates to support required document creation beyond just requisitions, solicitations, and contracts. It also provides seamless and professional external communication via integrated email to ensure efficient, effective, and logged correspondence.
Using eCase Contracts to Track Metrics
eCase Contracts also offers tracking of important metrics, including Procurement Administrative Lead Time (PALT), to help contracting officers meet deadlines and heads of contracting activities meet their organizational goals. Because contract file structures are standardized by procurement instrument type, management can quickly review files and ensure organizational compliance and quality assurance. And with the contract file in one place, legal representatives can access the file for legal reviews within context.
Customizing and Adapting eCase Contracts
eCase Contracts can quickly change to meet new business requirements as the FAR and other federal regulations change. Through eCase Contracts, we can create unique fields and configurations to accommodate differences between agencies and organizations. Additionally, there isn’t a need for specialized developers – administrators and business process owners take charge of application maintenance.
Other Challenges eCase Contracts Addresses
eCase Contracts also addresses many of the challenges procurement offices face, such as:
What it Looks Like to Use eCase Contracts?
Imagine bringing together project teams and CORs with contracting officers and specialists to work collaboratively to create the required documents to send out a solicitation.
Imagine sending the solicitation out without leaving the application or posting it and receiving responses on a portal that can then be jointly evaluated with the source selection team.
When the contract is awarded, the contract file merely transitions to the officer in charge to administer and is then efficiently received by closeout teams upon completion. Access to files is set by roles, phases, and organizational compartmentalization to ensure everyone sees what they are legally permitted to see while promoting transparency in the process.
Why Choose OPEXUS and eCase Contracts?
Our track record shows a proven ability to modernize government agencies, effectively reducing the “risks of failures” associated with relying on outdated legacy systems. By embracing the ongoing enhancements, features, and capabilities of advanced technologies, we can extend the platform’s functionality beyond the conventional five-year performance period, resulting in a more robust and future-proof solution.
Other CLM systems have limitations to the business needs they support, such as software focused specifically on creating contract documents. Through eCase Contracts, agencies can automate the CLM process while also meeting FAR requirements independently or through APIs and integrations. Furthermore, as a service provider, our contracting subject matter experts offer change management services and tailor training to our customers to support the standup, transition, and sustainment mission needs.
At the start of the pandemic, we saw first-hand the difficulties that procurement offices reliant on legacy systems and paper records and legacy systems faced. Remote work has proliferated the necessity for the digital automation of CLM, as without access to printing or a robust electronic CLM system, procurement offices are facing a growing backlog of auditable contracts. This, in turn, can become a significant compliance issue. With low-code on the rise and many government agencies now focused on digital transformation in various process areas, it’s time to bring procurement into the fold.