Office 365 and SharePoint – The Sales Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) Scenario

In order to be successful with Office 365 and SharePoint, you must remember that you are part of a bigger organization. When teams focus on a business management problem, they sometimes only think internally, which of course is sometimes necessary. When possible though, give consideration to what’s going on in your department and how that relates to other departments and divisions as you define solutions. Consider how the business management problem you are solving relates to other problems and their adopted solutions company wide (regardless if the solution involves O365 or SharePoint). Ask yourself how the content you are about to create might be used by other departments and how it can-and-should be reused and shared. The insights you devise will help you correctly address your immediate concern and will pay dividends in the long run when your entire company is organizing, classifying, and managing related elements of the business in a similar way. This series is going to show us how Westmorr Consulting uses these principles in an actual SharePoint Intranet implementation.

Overview of the Organization

Let’s use the following fictitious company departmental diagram, which will be a foundational reference for the hypothetical situations we’ll be covering in the series. I’ll be using “Westmorr Consulting” as the company/organization name though the series isn’t based exactly on the real-life happenings here at Westmorr Consulting, LLC:

*One-time disclaimer: not all organizations’ methodologies and processes are best broken up into the classic Org-Division-Department approach that’ll be leveraged for analysis in this series. Take for example, Non-Governmental Organizations and their use of the NGO Reference Model for structuring their perception of the organization and strategy. However, this classic business organization structure resonates heavily with employees across the workforce, so it’ll be the basis for this series.

The above is a simplified view of common divisions and departments in many organizations. We have Marketing, Sales, HR, IT, and Finance divisions. Within those are individual departments such as Marketing Research and Communications, Internal and Field Sales, Finance Planning and Accounting, and beyond.

So, we now have the organization for our scenario described. Let’s get into the basics of the situation that will define the next several posts which cover how Sales will address Westmorr Consulting’s need to implement a Sales Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) process in SharePoint and O365.

Business Management in Office 365 and SharePoint – The Sales Contract Lifecycle Management Scenario

Westmorr Consulting has been managing their sales contracts through e-mail and a shared network drive. Over the past few years, this scaled just fine, but due to recent growth, the team, and the rest of the company have been running into several issues utilizing these contracts, and the net, failing to satisfy their customers’ needs.

  • Inability to locate the most recent versions of contracts have led to misquotes and lost revenue.
  • Mistakes and sales’ failures have tarnished the organization’s reputation and led to a loss of client renewals.
  • Sales team members are losing what would otherwise be productive “floor time” trying to track down and validate content.
  • In the current state, it’s almost impossible to run any real metrics against sales contracts and performance. All data critical to effective mining and analysis is embedded directly in the documents.
  • There aren’t only multiple versions of the same contract (that can’t be distinguished), but there are multiple versions of the sales contract template that have been used over time – there is a learning curve, cognitive dissonance, frustration, and yet again lost productivity as sales team members manage contracts in their various formats.
  • Sales contract related data cannot be tied back to its initial marketing efforts in terms of marketing metrics and gauging the success of sales-oriented marketing projects.

Managing sales contracts in e-mail and in shared drives has caused a mess. So, Sales took the initiative to create a site in Westmorr’s new O365 SharePoint tenant and uploaded all of the documents into various SharePoint document libraries and folders. They created a new site, and then made folders for each customer. Then, they uploaded all of the sales contracts into their respective customer folders. They thought this was going to be a magic bullet, but most of the problems defined above still exist or have been worsened, and now there’s a whole new set of frustration and problems around:

  • Misleading or lack of useful Search results.
  • Inconsistencies in Sales’ new site versus other sites that were created by Marketing, HR, Finance, and IT (each of which also differ from each other in terms of layout, organization, naming conventions, structure, etc.). Nobody from the Sales team really understands how to effectively use the other sites, and nobody from the other teams really knows what’s going on in the Sales site.
  • Lack of ownership – team members don’t understand exactly what they are supposed to be managing in the site and what they can-or-cannot do.
  • Duplicates of the documents that Sales uploaded are somehow showing up in other sites.

Though this is a fictitious scenario, it’s hardly a stretch of what happens within organizations when solutions are manifested in SharePoint but aren’t well planned out. That is, Sales nor departmental coworkers in Marketing, Finance, IT, and HR gave consideration to the tenants outlined at the top of this post.

Sales has been given the green-light to build a Sales Contract Lifecycle Management system to address the concerns and issues plaguing their team. And, as a side-effect, they will improve Westmorr’s overall presence and utilization of SharePoint and Office 365. The approach they are going to take will improve content discoverability, enhance user experience, deliver automation and reduced overhead, surface useful reporting and metrics solutions, align the organization on a common taxonomy, and overall demonstrate a measurable improvement on return for Westmorr Consulting’s investment in O365 and SharePoint.

The scenario is set and now the series will move on to cover how to build out the CLM system and the overall Intranet.

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Categories: Business, Business Management, Contract Lifecycle Management, Office 365 and O365, SharePoint

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