In the fall of 2002, John L. Lewis, then director of treasury services at Cummins Inc., wanted to buy software to help the company improve data-gathering on its more than 2,000 leases for its 10-K. Eventually, over years perhaps, he expected a substantial savings from the improved data collection.

So just think how elated Lewis was to be able to report recently to the Columbus, Ind.-based engine manufacturer that, after less than a year on the job, the contract management system from Determine Software Inc. has already paid for itself.

How? By letting Cummins stay a jump ahead of its leases, the software allowed the company to take advantage of low interest rates by doing some early buy-outs of leases. Having the lease data readily available also reminded Cummins to make lease payments that it otherwise could have missed, incurring penalties, and to cancel leases before expiration to avoid being forced to buy high-priced equipment. None of this is saving a fortune, but it represents opportunities that might have been overlooked.

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