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Perspectives

The robots are coming

Driving efficiencies in contracting

Companies and federal agencies are beginning to introduce digital contract capabilities known as “bots” into the workplace. Just as robots had a marked effect on human life over the past five decades, these digital bots have the potential to make the productivity of the professional contracting workforce soar. Contracting organizations are entering a brave new world of machine and human collaboration, creating greater cost savings, a shorter contract cycle time, and customers who are more satisfied with the end result.

Digital contract capabilities

The push for digital contract capabilities is already in motion, with several artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities already in use. Initially, the increased use of bots will focus on the simplest of AI capabilities, namely process robotics and intelligent automation. Process robotics makes use of “rules-based” bots that mimic human actions, typically completing routine tasks 10 times faster than a human. This can result in substantial time and efficiency savings as they enable organizations to significantly decrease cycle time and divert resources to higher-value activities.

Intelligent automation applications are more advanced pieces of software that mimic human understanding of text documents. Once properly “trained,” an intelligent content extraction tool typically reviews up to 2,000 documents an hour to find information that is strategically relevant for decision makers.

Copyright 2017. NCMA Journal. Republished with permission. All rights reserved.

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Maturity level one: Completing simple contract administration tasks

Consistently performing repetitive tasks with precision is not a strength of humans. Even worse, it drains creativity—the very trait that enables strategic thinking and sound business judgment. Bots can perform administrative tasks like manually copying data from one system to another. Unburdening contracting professionals from performing such tasks can enable them to focus on what the contracting community does best: Applying experience and judgment to make sound business decisions.

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Maturity level two: Executing more sophisticated contract administrative tasks

Not only can bots enable contracting professionals to focus on what they do well, but they can also enable them to perform those tasks at a much higher level. Most tasks require both repetitive execution and decision-making. Working together, both bots and contracting professionals can complete these task more efficiently by making the best use of both of their strengths. Bots are capable of accessing and analyzing information that is difficult for contracting professionals to access on-the-fly, providing contracting professionals with visibility to make more strategic decisions in all phases of the contracting process.

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