IACCM Contract Management Forum

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Ace Hardware
2015-03-27 12:12:33


I work as a Contract Manager for Indirect Procurement. One of our challenges is getting our internal clients to push our templates out to our vendors. We have limited internal data on how quickly one of our templates is approved versus a vendor's template. We are working to get more data to support the use of our templates. How have others addressed this issue at their organziations? Is there some benchmarking data out there that I could look at?
 •  World Commerce & Contracting  •   2015-03-27 13:12:53
Hi Jessica
This is a common problem. Many of the relationships with indirect
suppliers are less formal and may have been in place for years, leading to resistance over use of standard templates.

It is of course important to establish whether the issue is just general resistance or whether the standards are not really appropriate to the range of indirect relationships required, or lack required flexibility.

We do have benchmark data at IACCM on cycle times and will be issuing reports on the latest information at the end of April. It should be possible to provide interim data if you need it sooner.

 •  NOKIA  •   2015-05-11 07:07:04
Internal Template application rather than the one of the supplier is usually a requirement nevertheless the real issue behind is do we protect ourself correctly. Legal usually is validating a template that he wants verybody contract manager to apply. As legal ressources are scarce and expensive ressources it is ovious that this is the first thing that should be pushed. Once you know that he does not work the more complex but more interesting solution for the company is to look at the mandatory clauses that are requested from the contract. So instead of pushing your template you should fight on the mandatory clauses. Fall back position should be created as a handbook of best practices.
 •  Dept of VA  •   2015-05-12 08:15:57
Ms. Prendergast,

Templates, while easy to copy and work with, present a challenge to many companies in part because the template is usually written from one side or the other, providing all the advantages to the author's side and none to the recipient. This is frequently seen in EULAs, where the equivalent of "Not only do we have all the rights, but you are lucky we let you use our product at all, you horrible little vendor!" is common contract parlance.

So how do you overcome the natural inclination of a vendor to resist your templates? The same way you advertise anything else!

Make the option of using your product (the templates) both appealing and advantageous to the vendor. When sending internal templates to a vendor for use, do not present them as a "use or lose" option. Instead, deliver the items with the contracting equivalent of a box of chocolates: Provide vendors a summarized explanation of the benefits offered through using your templates. Bullet-oriented briefs are more effective here, as they provide not only a quick list for the vendor to read, but a point-summary for the vendor's contract manager to use in presenting the overwhelming benefits offered by your templates to their management.

Explain (again in short form) the potential realized cost savings of template use, including ease of follow-on contract development by way of utilizing your "easily-tailored, customer-specific templates." Make every effort to ensure using your templates is so much easier than having the vendor's contract department reinvent the procurement wheel that the vendor (who at this point you should view as your customer) would actually be acting against their own best interest to do anything other than to use your templates.

As M. Fouquier rightly points out, the usual greatest challenge is getting your templates past the legal department guardians. Providing a brief mandatory clause list may be a more advantageous initial step, as it tends to ease legal's protective instinct toward its client(s). Once you present not merely a palatable offering of clauses, but a tasty array of work-easing options to the vendor (and the vendor's legal counsel), your job is 90% done. Offering updates and non-critical individual tailoring options (which would not, of course, change the mandatory clauses) gives the vendor the personalized attention so critical to obtaining their final approval. It is the after-dinner apertif of contracting: "Not only do we offer all these options, but our true focus is on YOU."

Granting the vendor a choice of either (a) using your banquet of templates designed to ease their workload or (b) going through the tedious grind of negotiating back and forth on every item for months makes you and your templates the obvious and preferred choice every time.
 •  Vector Limited  •   2017-01-25 21:57:47
Thanks Jessica for posting this question. I appreciate all the inputs from everyone most especially Jason's reply. Like many others, suggesting to our vendors the use of our company templates for professional services is always a challenge. But as Jason suggested, explaining the benefits of using the company template (e.g. easy approval of subsequent statements of work once an MSA has been approved) makes the vendor think and eventually agree. Of course, there is negotiation in the process. It is not a straightforward demand of asking them to accept the template per se but making them aware of the benefits does help.
 •  World Commerce & Contracting  •   2017-01-26 07:19:13
Since this discussion started almost 2 years ago, the world of technology has progressed and IACCM can today offer a service to validate 'contract norms'.

A challenge for buyers and suppliers is that their templates start from positions of self interest and naturally this creates contention and delay. It is now quick and relatively easy for us to provide members with insight to what is a normal position / term for any particular type of. Ontract. This allows internal discussion of the desirable business position and of course informs external discussion to accelerate agreement.
 •   2018-10-17 05:37:16
Even though it has been a long time since Jessica posted this, I would like to add my comment (may be somebody is still interested in this topic). Usually, I don't face problems with internal clients in the way they don't want to share the template with our customers. On the other hand of course, customers sometimes come back with their template (instead of any comments/tracked changes in our template) or, if not such a "strong" company to insist on their template, they send our template back with all important clauses deleted and replaced with their template wording. Sometimes it is just a matter of wording, and when I see the content is the same and can imagine how long would it take them to have our wording reviewed and approved, I agree with theirs instead. However, sometimes it is really a totally different story, setting us in such an unpleasant situation, that the best option would be not to sign the contract at all. What I learned is, that is not only a question of the size of a company or its hierarchy (=how many approvals do they need), it is often also a "cultural" thing. Some nations have negotiations or even fighting for a win in their veins, and they push back just as a matter of principle. When you set up relevant points in front of them, they usually agree and you get their respect. A great distinguishing model here is the one of Hofstede, which was also mentioned in one of the modules.
Coming back to Jessica's comment, I sometimes face a different problem - internal clients wish to send the template immediately to the customer without any prior discussions or involvements of Contracts. They simply tend to find somewhere a blank template and go out. I always need to explain, that Contracts need to see it and that we, Contracts, are the one responsible for it. Even though using a template, every single deal is unique and a template needs to be adjusted not only with regards to the deal's specific, but also based on our experience with the customer (e.g. I know Czech companies insist on having their ID and information about incorporation in the legal name and address description - if I wouldn't place it in the contract prior sending to the customer, we would look stupid and like we don't care about customer's needs at all. the same is with Russian customers, who, due to their law requirements, need to have bank details explicitly written in the agreement - so I won't release any draft for their review without inserting those bank details).
So I think nobody can only focus on one side of the business - I believe it is not only about customers (CRM) but about relationship with the internal clients (trusted advisor) as well.
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