Today we are releasing the second episode of Icertis’s new podcast series, “Contracts Over Coffee.” This series brings together the most influential voices in the Icertis Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) partner ecosystem to discuss all things related to contracting while enjoying a delicious coffee beverage.
In our second episode, our Senior Director of Partner Marketing, Anne Baker, was joined by Ryan Flynn, a Principal at our partner, Deloitte Consulting. Ryan specializes in working with procurement professionals and leading complex strategic sourcing engagements.
Here are four key takeaways from their chat:
Anne Baker: Right now, we’re certainly seeing how important supply chain management can be. What do you think is the biggest challenge with contracting today?
Ryan Flynn: I think the biggest challenge, and one that the pandemic has kind of laid bare, is visibility into contract data and inability to do quick and easy analytics on your contracts. Companies all over the world have been really struggling to get that visibility. What kind of obligations do they have to their customers? And what do they need to be thinking about in terms of how they fulfill those obligations, or get out of fulfilling those obligations, in this pandemic? Same thing on the supply side: What sort of obligations do their suppliers have with them?
At the end of last year, we released our annual Global Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) Survey. CPOs are saying that the area they expected to have the most impact over the next couple of years, by a wide margin, was analytics. It’s really the focus point of companies today—to be able to understand what obligations they have and the impacts of those obligations on their customers and suppliers.
Anne Baker: Do you think that’s really where contracting is headed next, then?
Ryan Flynn: More and more companies really want to have access to advanced analytics [through] some of the technology that’s coming into play today—things like artificial intelligence and machine learning to be able to extract and make sense of unstructured data.
To look further out, things like blockchain and the capability to provide visibility all throughout the supply chain. Or smart contracts, where you might be able to enforce penalties for late delivery, based on contract terms. That’s really the future and that’s where more and more companies are going to start looking for contract management.
Anne Baker: I know even when the pandemic broke here, even in marketing, one of the first things I did was turn to our contracts to look at all of our trade shows and events, and use the ICM solution to quickly search for force majeure clauses. And that’s just in marketing. If you’re a large enterprise, it would be almost impossible if you didn’t start having the AI capabilities and analytics capabilities that you’re talking about.
Ryan Flynn: It’s really the contracts and the visibility down into the supply chain as well. Because I know a lot of companies that we’re talking to are really concerned about disruptions deeper into their supply chains. They just don’t have that visibility.
It also gets into strategy: If one of my suppliers does go bankrupt, how do I get an alternative source of supply quickly? And how do I think differently about my supply chain given these things may be happening in the next couple of years?
We see a lot of supply chain disruption. Whether you’re a buyer or a supplier, you’ve got to manage the risk of both sides of that equation. That’s why we think that the partnership with Icertis really gives us a leg up there and helps customers.
Anne Baker: That’s a great point. I mean, there’s the stabilizing-your-suppliers situation and there’s also preparing for and anticipating what could be coming next. What do you think people would be surprised to know about contracting today?
Ryan Flynn: When people think of contracting, they tend to think of the legal department, but it really is a very cross-functional discipline. To do it effectively, you need to have all different parts of the organization working together. And more and more companies are starting to realize that they need to optimize their contract management from an end-to-end perspective: sales, procurement, finance, HR. Not to mention customers and suppliers.
Anne Baker: That’s why Gartner has recently talked about how contract lifecycle management is moving from something that was a nice-to-have to something that now, and certainly with this pandemic, has become a must-have. What is one contracting tip that you wish every person knew?
Ryan Flynn: One of the blogs that I tend to read pretty religiously is called Spend Matters. It gives me that broader view of what’s going on in the world of procurement and different areas that impact contract management. Obviously, there’s a lot of talk now about risk management, particularly with respect to suppliers and other third parties. So I think that’s a great place to go, to learn a lot more about procurement from an end-to-end perspective.
Ryan and Anne wrapped up this episode with a little personal history, revealing that Ryan not only speaks Russian, but has visited the country and taught English there, both before and after the fall of the Soviet Union. Make sure to listen to the full podcast to hear more about that—and also about Ryan’s love of, and pro bono work for, public radio.
To learn more about our partnership, visit the Deloitte partner page on Icertis.com.
To go deeper on the AI-infused contracting techniques that Ryan discussed, fill out the form below to access the “Icertis Approach to AI” eBook.