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Microsoft Completes Ambitious, Global Contract Transformation With Azure-Powered Contract Intelligence

Leveraging the highly flexible Icertis platform, Microsoft empowers 220,000 with automated contract intelligence.


Recently, Microsoft’s Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) department embarked on an ambitious, global effort to centralize and automate the management of Microsoft’s massive contract portfolio.

Like all enterprises, Microsoft relies on a wide ecosystem of partner, supplier, and customer relationships—relationships defined by contracts. By taking a smarter, digital-first approach to these foundational documents, CELA recognized an opportunity to drive significant savings and efficiencies while simultaneously reducing risk.

To achieve this vision, Microsoft needed a system that could provide a guided interface for 220,000 employees—the vast majority of whom are not trained as procurement or legal professionals. This meant replacing a SharePoint repository with a smart, powerful process automation that would, based on CELA-defined rules, automatically populate contract clauses based on attributes such as deal size or what geographies the contracts would be active in.

The system had to be flexible enough to meet the needs and workflows of different departments while maintaining the same look and feel no matter where in Microsoft the user sits.

Tom Orrison, Director of Legal Operations for Microsoft CELA, described the opportunity this way: “All of our more than 220,000 employees can act as procurement agents for the company. So how can we make that process and that engagement as simple as possible, knowing that these folks don’t have the rich background that our legal experts and the procurement teams have?”

The Solution

After carefully reviewing its requirements, CELA partnered with Icertis to carry out this ambitious transformation. The Icertis Contract Intelligence (ICI) platform—built natively on Azure—offered the CELA team best-in-class flexibility and usability and an open API structure that enabled extensive integrations with other Azure-hosted systems and custom-built extensions. 

A significant early effort in the deployment was the migration of more than 1 million legacy contracts onto the Icertis platform. Thanks to the power of the Icertis platform, this massive digitization effort enabled Microsoft to manage new and legacy contracts in a single, searchable location. 

Meanwhile, the legal operations department in CELA teamed up with Microsoft’s Digital Employee Experience team to configure the Icertis platform to maximize self-service capabilities. Through an intelligent, guided experience, users across the company can answer natural language questions (like whether the supplier will handle privacy information) and have an SOW automatically assembled using approved legal language. 

Using the momentum of the massive digitization effort, big-bang deployment, and end-to-end SOW automation, the CELA team is now working on deeper integrations between Icertis and enterprise systems to gain big-data insights across the contract portfolio, improve procurement outcomes, and connect contract language to the downstream processes they power.

“The more we can integrate with downstream systems, the better off we are,” Orrison says. “Employees just want to work with a partner to deliver the scope of their job. So the more we can make things seamless for our users, the better the experience, and it gives us the business velocity we’re looking for.”

The Results

Within the first month of deployment, 5,600 contracts were created on the system, in addition to nearly 700 amendments. Today 220,000 Microsoft employees are creating 150,000 SOWs per year with Icertis. 

Within the first month of deployment, 5,600 contracts were created on the system, in addition to nearly 700 amendments. Today 220,000 Microsoft employees are creating 150,000 SOWs per year with Icertis. 

This work is being done faster and more efficiently than ever before. While it used to take around 30 minutes for a Microsoft employee to create a short-form SOW, the process now takes an average of five minutes—an 83% improvement. Meanwhile, a typical CELA contract review used to take from two to five days. But because Icertis draws a contract’s clauses directly from an approved and up-to-date library of legal language, CELA can now accomplish any necessary reviews in under two days.

And because CELA centrally manages the system, the department has full assurance that all contracts executed on the ICI platform are fully compliant and enforceable. And all these contracts are now stored on a central repository for superior visibility: The centralized storage of both new and legacy contracts allows Microsoft to run comprehensive analytics across the entire body of contracts.

Technology Industry

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Next Steps

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