Nextance: Next Generation Contract Management

In our last post, we tackled the subject of Enterprise Contract (Lifecycle) Management. In this post, we are going to discuss Nextance – one of the more innovative players in the contract management space and one of the few players trying to tackle the breadth and depth of Enterprise Contract Management. With the recent release of their new Proposal Management Software, Nextance is extending their enterprise footprint – which is quite respectable. This module complements their contract authoring, contract management, and business management modules which provide solutions for sales, procurement, legal, and intellectual property.

Nextance, which is bound to have some cool new announcements and campaigns in the near future (since July starts their fiscal year), recognizes that there is a large gap between contracts and financial processes in many companies, and specifically between contract creation and revenue tracking, and is endeavoring to close that gap. Its contract management solution allows you to define event triggers around milestones, orders, and invoices for compliance purposes and its business management solution allows you to determine all of your contractual spend for the current or coming quarter.

That’s why Nextance is currently focussed on contract lifetime value optimization. Most companies have significant value locked up in their contracts, and without the tools to track, manage, and extract the value, it will go untapped. In order to obtain the savings you negotiated in a supplier contract, you need to make sure you’re paying the contracted rates and not a penny more. In order to keep your profit levels up, you need to insure that your customers are paying you at contracted rates, and not at an unauthorized discount. In order to maximize the value of your IP, you need to be able to keep on top of the IP assets you have and effectively market and license the technology.

However, the greatest benefit a well-defined and well-managed contract can provide is risk mitigation. If you’re competing in an open marketplace, you can usually get a good price – especially if your supplier knows you can switch (or you threaten to). If supply exceeds demand, you don’t have to worry about supply availability. If you have a relationship built on trust and collaboration, chances are you’ll never need to refer back to the contract to settle a debate. But if you’re in a closed marketplace, if demand exceeds supply, or if there is the potential for distrust on either end of the relationship, then risk becomes an issue – and the way to prevent against it is to mitigate those risks up front in a contract.

And now that Nextance tackles pretty much every major business function except HR, and handles the contract process from the proposal stage all they way through to active compliance management, they are in a prime position to start tackling contract-based risk management. And when you factor in their strong XML foundations, Microsoft Word integration, advanced search, and strong reporting capability, it becomes a solid foundation for building contracts that tackle risk and determining whether or not your current contracts leave you exposed to newly identified risks.

And considering that most of Nextance’s implementations are large deployments throughout multiple departments, if not the entire enterprise, on a national, international, or global scale with thousands of users, and in some cases hundreds of thousands and users, you know they can support the scalability needed to capture all of the information needed to make risk mining a possibility. There are very few other companies that can claim the size and breadth of the deployments they have and it should be interesting to see how they fare against the other niche best-of-breed vendors, such as the Emptoris Dicarta solution, iMany, and Upside Software. I think that they’ll definitely be a very interesting company to watch this year and I am a little anxious to see what they announce first.