In an era of continuing legal and regulatory concerns, corporate scandals and governance rules, the ability of finance and legal departments to control and manage contracts has become a critical concern. "Contract management is a pervasive pain point for the finance and legal departments at most large companies," says Kyle McNabb, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. "There may be thousands of contracts that are active at any time. Keeping track of them, being able to identify which ones are coming up for renewal and prioritizing those, and knowing how to allocate resources on the high-value contracts and the greater-risk contracts–these are problems for enterprises."

Open Text Corp., a $409.6 million enterprise content management (ECM) software provider based in Waterloo, Ont., has released the latest version of Livelink ECM-Contract Lifecycle Management, a solution for contract creation, negotiation, fulfillment and renewals, that is designed to lighten the governance load for the finance organization. The new version features automated contract creation processes, proactive reports and alerts for increased visibility into contract relationships and terms.

Open Text has taken square aim at the office of finance in its latest release, remarks Steve Chunn, Open Text's program manager for contract lifecycle solutions. All contracts are managed in the electronic repository, giving everyone in finance access for the purpose of review. Approval, where it is required, is managed with a workflow tool set, which has been built into the solution with strong security classifications. The new version also allows the finance department to participate and provides the language that can be reused. "It's imperative that the precise language of how the finances of the contract are to be handled be included in that contract, and that finance gets the opportunity to sign off on that contract [since] they're going to be responsible for processing invoices against the terms of the contract," says Chunn. "From a finance department perspective, it's important that someone is not giving away the store."

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