Contract and commercial management  

When technology meets humanity

In the wake of the pandemic and the shift to remote work, weaknesses in contracting and commercial management were on full display. This report explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced contract and commercial management capabilities and processes, with a focus on the value of humans working alongside technology.

Contract and commercial management today: How we got here

2020 was a year when incremental, evolutionary change gave way to revolutionary transformation in contracting and contract life cycle management. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed to organizations the frailty of their contract management systems and processes. As markets and supply chains were thrown into confusion, contracts proved difficult to find, hard to analyze, and of little or no use in managing unfolding events. With customer and supplier data scattered across multiple applications, the absence of reliable contract life cycle management systems exposed the fragmentation of critical business information. Commercial processes, in many cases designed to ensure control and compliance, struggled to adapt and were often bypassed.

This report, a joint effort between Deloitte and World Commerce & Contracting, explores how the dramatic disruptions caused by COVID-19 are affecting companies’ contract life cycle management capabilities and processes. It unearths several interesting trends, most notably that the promise of enabling technology is finally being realized. Companies en masse are embracing the need to look at and understand how contracts are managed after signature, with a true appreciation of data’s power. Organizations are now thinking beyond the data found within the four corners of the contract itself and focusing on how it can be linked to enterprise data contained in financial, HR, procurement, and customer relationship management systems. With this new approach, the walls between those who create the contracts and those who live with them start to crumble, and meaningful, impactful business outcomes can emerge.

This report is not only a snapshot, but also a look ahead to what comes next and where newly enlightened companies should be focusing their contracting investment and resourcing energies.

What did the pandemic teach companies about contract management?

The pandemic generated awareness for the importance of contract and commercial management, along with the need for investment. Organizational integrity is not simply about compliance; it’s also about adaptability and a new blend of collaboration between technology and humanity.

What it will take to transform contract and commercial management?

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a renewed focus on strengthening companies’ contract and commercial management capabilities.

Despite increasing advancement and adoption of technology, there’s a growing realization that it's an enabler, not a cure-all. Transforming the contracting function requires multidisciplinary talent, from knowledge engineers and technologists to process analysts and legally trained professions. And it requires a comprehensive approach that marries process standardization, automation, global delivery, alternative resource models, and continuous improcement. Without the proper investment in people, process, and even content, the best technology can offer little more than a temporary fix. If companies can equip their legal and commercial teams with new insights from data, the opportunities are much greater.

By streamlining the contracting process and the removal of bottlenecks, companies can improve speed to execution. With intelligent contract triage driving delegation to alternative resources or self-help, organizations can free up in-house attorneys’ time to work on more strategic matters, ensuring that the right resources touch the right contracts at the right time.

About the report

This report is based on a survey conducted by World Commerce & Contracting. Input came from more than 300 organizations, with data collected from a mixture of individual interviews, executive roundtable discussions groups, and an online survey. Research was conducted by World Commerce & Contracting from November 2020 to January 2021. The results represent a broad cross-industry sample, with 62% of respondents hailing from organizations with annual revenue exceeding $5 billion.

Learn more about Deloitte’s Legal Business Services

The rapidly changing business landscape has intensified pressure on legal departments to increase efficiencies and deliver greater value to the business. Deloitte’s Legal Business Services helps clients modernize their legal departments, freeing the core legal team to focus on strategic priorities, enhance the speed and quality of issue identification, and use data to drive faster, more informed decision-making.

*The Deloitte US firms do not practice law or provide legal advice

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The Deloitte US firms do not practice law or provide legal advice.

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