Business continuity is crucial to ensuring your day-to-day operations don’t stop when unexpected, impactful events occur. Your customers depend on it. And the best way to safeguard your business operations is to have a plan.

Key success factors in business continuity planning

A business continuity plan maps out how to prevent and recover from potential threats so you can conduct business as usual and continue serving customers. And the effectiveness of that plan to enable normal operations is dependent upon four primary factors: people, process, technology and infrastructure.

People

Employees must be:

  • Aware of your business continuity plan and their role in it
  • Trained in how to respond
  • Empowered to execute alternative solutions during business disruptions

Process

When the status quo changes, normal processes are often disrupted, and other approaches are needed to carry out business operations. With the current COVID-19 shelter-in-place directives, many employees are working remotely. Do you have processes in place to facilitate this, including how they will access needed systems?

Technology

Similarly, are your systems and policies flexible enough to support remote access and use? And do you have the security measures in place to protect customer information when employees are accessing it remotely? Your technology, software applications and supporting policies must be adaptable.

Infrastructure

Unplanned events can disrupt production logistics and supply chains. It’s key that you know your options should that happen and have alternatives in place to keep operations flowing.

The role of contract lifecycle management in business continuity 

Agreements are at the heart of every business relationship and define how organizations work together. They keep revenues flowing and supply chains moving and also help mitigate risk. During emergencies or other significant events that disrupt the normal flow of business, it’s critical that companies and other entities understand the commitments they’ve made to customers and that vendors have made to them.

Contract management software falls under the technology component of your business continuity plan, but it also plays a vital role in minimizing production and supply chain disruptions by ensuring your teams have easy access to the contracts underlining those aspects of your business.

To meet these needs, a robust CLM system must include remote access, a central repository, trackable workflows, system integration, search and reporting and the ability to assess risk and obligations.

Remote access

A major assumption in most business continuity plans is that employees may need to work remotely or from different locations. This makes anytime, anywhere system access critical – and that access must be highly secure and available. In fact, remote access is the linchpin to the overall success of your business continuity plan as everything else that follows is dependent upon your employees having access to everything they need to close new business and continue servicing existing customers.

Central repository

A central, organized, searchable repository is equally crucial, though, so you can easily find the contract you need. Whether you need to confirm a vendor’s service level agreements, are in the middle of closing a deal or your customer is asking to see their contract, ready access is fundamental to helping your customers, keeping supply chains running and understanding risk.

Automated workflows

Workflow is all about orchestration, automating tasks to make sure the right person, gets the right work, at the right time. This is even more important when everyone involved is working in different locations or an emergency arises taking a key person out of office.

Manual workflows are a pain to manage, and it’s easy to miss a step or for a contract to get hung up in someone’s inbox because they’re out of office. Having a system that automatically tracks what’s supposed to happen when, makes it easier to find an alternative plan.

System integration

Contracts don’t happen in isolation. Often, the data that goes into contracts comes from other systems, like Salesforce or internal enterprise systems. Without system integration, incorporating information like pricing data and payment terms or updating a downstream system to provision a service or send an invoice after a sale are manual processes that take time and increase the likelihood of error.

Search and reporting

A central repository isn’t much use without a way to quickly search and find the contract you need. And during a time of crisis, quick access to contracts and the ability report on obligations and work in process are essential. A system that has full-text searching, intelligent tagging and AI capabilities makes that possible.

Risk and obligation assessment

Understanding where you’re at risk and what you’re obligated to provide is never more important than during an impactful event. There may be clauses, such as force majeure or service level agreements and penalties, that change your company’s risk profile and thus provide valuable input when making major business decisions. The ability to surface this information and rapidly find the contracts that might be disrupted by the unplanned event can help lower your risk.

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