The Sourcing Maniacs 2008 Vendor Tour Part 15: Upside

This post is a little lengthy, so it’s been broken into Flipside and Upside.


Wakko Why are we in Texas? I thought we were headed Northward.
Yakko We’re not in Texas, Wakko. We’re in Alberta.
Wakko Alberta?
Yakko Yes, Wakko. We’ve crossed into Canada.
Wakko But the plains. The bright sun. The cowboys.
Yakko Are also found in Alberta, who’s biggest trading partner is Texas.
Wakko So that’s why everybody’s oot and aboot, eh?
Will we get to meet Bob and Doug MacKenzie?
Yakko They’re not real Wakko.
Wakko Not real? NOT REAL? They’re my heroes!
  Editor’s note: Oh Dear!
Dot So what are we here for?
Yakko Upside.
Dot What upside can we possibly find in Canada. I’m a sophisticated girl. How sophisticated is a country where most of its population still lives in igloos most of the year!
  Editor’s note: While some traditional Eskimo’s in the far, far noth still live in igloos, the vast majority of the 33 Million plus Canadians do not live in igloos. In fact, except for the fact our money is colorful like European money (only our twenties are green), and we pay more taxes (supposedly to cover our public healthcare costs and additional social programs, but you can check the news to see where it really goes), Canada is extremely similar to the US. Canada may have stayed tied to Britian longer, but the US, our largest trading partner, is Canada’s primary influence. About the only other difference is that we still follow the British parliamentary system, and we don’t get to vote for whether we want tweedle-dee or tweedle-dum as Prime Minister.
Yakko Actually, Canada is quite sophisticated. Although it is true that the majority of e-Sourcing companies are in the US, and more recently, in the UK, there are a few players in Canada and some, like Upside, have attracted a significant user base outside of their native land. And remember, the doctor is Canadian, and currently lives in a place called Halifax, Nova Scotia, which he claims is the best place to do international business in Canada.
Dot So what’s the upside?
Yakko Upside Software, a specialty provider of Contract Management solutions.
Dot So where are they?
Yakko Edmonton.
Dot Edmonton. Never heard of it!
Yakko It says in the guidebook that it has the West Edmonton Mall which was, since its construction in 1981, the World’s Largest Shopping Mall until Jin Yuan, the Golden Resources Shopping Mall, opened in Beijing, China in 2004.
  Editor’s note: Only three malls are larger. The Golden Resources Shopping Mall in Beijing, the South China Mall in Dongguan, and the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City in the Phillippines.
Yakko It also says in the guidebook that the mall contains the Galaxyland Amusement Park with the Mindbender, the world’s largest indoor high speed, triple loop roller coaster.
Yakko To Upside?
Yakko & Dot Yes, Yes, To Upside!


Dot Why are we stopping?
Yakko I think we’re here.
Dot I don’t see a Mall!
Yakko Remember, work first, play later.
Wakko rather solemn
out comes the mini-mallet
tap … tap
Spectabled Sales Guy ‘Ello, ‘ello!
Dot What’s my upside?
Spectacled Sales Guy Excuse me?
Yakko I think she means to ask, is this Upside Software?
Spectacled Sales Guy Why, yes it is.
Yakko And what’s the upside of using Upside Software for Contract Management?
Spectacled Sales Guy Well, that’s a rather involved question. Who are you?
Wakko I’m Wakko.
Spectacled Sales Guy No comment.
Spectacled Sales Guy I’m Yakko.
Spectacled Sales Guy Obviously.
Dot And you can call l’il ol’ me, Dot.
Spectacled Sales Guy Hi Dot. And where are you from?
Yakko Well, we used to be from the valley …
Wakko … but we got wak’d.
Spectacled Sales Guy O …. K …. and who do you work for now?
Wakko No one … we’re fancy free!
Spectacled Sales Guy So why do you want to know what the upside of using Upside Software for Contract Management is? You obviously don’t have any use for it in your current predicament.
Dot We’re trying to better understand the sourcing space.
Yakko It seems our view is a little narrower than it should be.
Spectacled Sales Guy But why are you here? There are obviously dozens of other companies you could talk too, some of whom may even be hiring, and most a lot closer to California than us.
Wakko the doctor sent us.
Spectacled Sales Guy You really are wacko. Doctors prescribe medicine …
Dot Not a doctor, the doctor … of Sourcing Innovation.
Spectacled Sales Guy Sourcing Innovation … hmmm … the blog?
Yakko The one and only.
Spectacled Sales Guy So if I answer your question, I’ll get some free publicity?
Yakko Of course!
Spectacled Sales Guy Well, even though we don’t really need it … we’ve been in the press a lot lately … we are, after all, one of Canada’s Best Employers … and companies … but it’s a fair exchange. So have a seat. And I’ll tell you why we’re different — and what the upside to using Upside is.
Dot Great!
Spectacled Sales Guy First of all, we support the full life-cycle of the contract. How familiar are you with enterprise contract management?
Yakko Isn’t it just the centralization of all of your contracts in a centralized, searchable repository so that you can find out who you have contracts with, what they’re for, when they’re expiring, and, most importantly, how much you should be paying for a good or service?
Spectacled Sales Guy Well, that’s where it starts, but it’s much more than that. To quote your doctor, it’s not just “managing your contracts” but “managing the information that is within the contracts and related to the contracts”. “It’s being able to not only find the contract for the part you need, but share that information with your sourcing and procurement systems for automated compliance verification of invoices. It’s about being able to not only create standard terms and conditions in your contract templates but being able to annotate them with the reasons therefore. It’s about being able to determine not only what contracts are about to expire, but what risks you are open to with respect to your current contract base with respect to liability, supply stability, and corporate social responsibility. It’s about being able to drill down from a supplier contract into relevant supplier data to determine compliance. It’s about being able to drill down from your customer contracts to your supplier performance metrics to determine on-time delivery performance. Its about being able to truly manage your operations off of your contracts.” (From Enterprise Contract Management.) And more.
Dot More?
Spectacled Sales Guy It’s budgeting, project management and risk management. And it’s about simultaneously meeting the needs of accounting, legal, and procurement, whose needs are quite diverse.
Dot Really? That too?
Spectacled Sales Guy You draft a contract for goods or services in specified quantities in specified amounts. The contract has a committed amount, which comes out of a budget that needs to be carefully tracked. And if you’re in construction, consulting, or exploration, for example, most of your contracts are project based, and need to be managed against projects. And these days, contract management is as much about risk management as it is about price and service levels. You need to identify the risks, mitigate the risks, and monitor that the identified mitigations are being implemented.
Yakko And your tool does all that?
Spectacled Sales Guy To the extent that a Contract Management tool can.

It lets you define your budgets, which contracts, and associated line items, are billed against the budgets, and then, as invoices are entered into the system and billed against contracts, it tracks expenditures against budgets.

It lets you define projects, and project components, and associate contracts, and component line items, with projects. Projects can also be identified with funding levels, required forms, and have associated alerts when budget levels are reached, actions need to be taken, or insurance or certifications need to be (re)verified.

And the application allows you to establish, and track, “risk drivers”. You can define a risk event, the “risk driver” that would cause the event, the impact the event would have, and the probability that the impact would be realized. For example, for an early contract termination event, you could define a “risk driver” of no on-time delivery and an “impact” of lost dollars with 75% probability. You can then track the risks by contract, by project, and by budget and this helps to ensure that your risks, and identified mitigations, get monitored.

Dot Wow!
Yakko But what about basic contract management. Since your tool does so much, is it difficult to use?
Spectacled Sales Guy Not at all! It’s a streamlined SaaS offering that supports single sign-on and customization by each client. This insures that you only have to use as much as you need, on a contract-by-contract basis. Furthermore, it’s a wizard-based tool that guides you through the process of requesting, creating, and monitoring contracts, and is thus incredibly easy to use.

Contract creation is as simple as selecting a type, defining a jurisdiction, choosing an appropriate template, customizing the options, defining the duration and boundary dates, and adding a searchable description.

Dot So you have to have a template first?
Spectacled Sales Guy No, but we highly recommend it … because the template can be re-used again and again. And our templates aren’t static Word document templates, they’re dynamic templates where each clause can have different, auto-configured, options depending on jurisdiction, risk tolerance, duration, and value. In addition, legal can define additional alternatives for each clause for special situations that can be selected as needed. This allows contracts to be quickly and easily generated with very little customization.
Dot But I’m comfortable with Word!
Spectacled Sales Guy Most people are … which is why our contract creation tool is 100% Word compatible. You can export to Word for editing, and then import the updated contract at any time. But our tool is much more powerful. Not only can you create drop-down alternatives, including auto-selecting alternatives, for each clause and sub-clause, but you can also track how often an alternative clause is used, how often a clause is modified, and define notes that allow usage to be properly interpreted. Plus, you can define levels of approval and equivalents in foreign languages. This is what allows our system to automatically draft a base contract once the basic meta-data of jurisdiction, duration, risk tolerance, etc. are defined. Whereas most systems just retrieve a static template, our system retrieves a customized contract.
Yakko So creation is powerful. What about management?
Spectacled Sales Guy Equally as powerful. You can search by any associated piece of information; organize contracts by geography, supplier, product, project, budget; and customize the meta-data you want to track. It’s a fully functional repository.
Wakko And all that other stuff having to do with enterprise contract management you rambled on about?
Spectacled Sales Guy All there. There’s compliance management functionality that allows you to specify, track, and alert the affected parties to the requirements at different points in the life-cycle. There’s performance management that allows you to define and track metrics — and we can tie into external systems to automatically load the approptiate data. There’s invoice and receipt tacking, which is supported by our ability to link into ERP systems to pull transactions and status levels. There’s planned expenditure and budget tracking. There’s a powerful wizard-based form-building tool that allows just about any form you might need to support a contract or relationship to be built. E-mail functionality is built into the system, and it can track all communications by contract. All of the data can be exported in flat-file, csv/Excel, and XML, and reports can also be exported in HTM, RTF, and PDF formats. And there’s a very extensive adminitrative tool that allows just about everything to be customized. Wherever possible, we use reference tables to define data, workflow, and functionality and all of them can be customized by our customers in their implementations.
Yakko I never knew there was so much to contract management!
Spectacled Sales Guy Well, it really depends on the organization. A small organization might not need more than decent templating and a centralized repository, but a large multi-national enterprise has very extensive contracting needs — needs that we continually work hard to meet each and every day. And with that, I bid you good day. There’s a wide world out there that also needs my attention.
Wakko & Dot Off to the Mall!