Government contract management is divided into three stages: procurement or acquisition planning, sourcing, and post-award contract management.
The first two stages have had the most focused time and financial investment for improvement. This approach leaves post-award management as a secondary duty for contract officer representatives (CORs) and contract managers within legal teams. Consequently, they are left unsupported for compliance, risk management, and opportunity realization.
Arguably, contract processes after acquisition and sourcing are the most crucial stages for public-sector and private-sector contract managers. However, these stages notoriously lack proper visibility and resources. This article will address the challenges and present actionable post-award contract management best practices with the help of contract management software.
What is Post Award Contract Management?
The post award phase of contract management proves critical within contract lifecycle management because it consists of operational and strategic tasks. Robust contracting processes prove necessary in successfully managing:
- compliance with terms and conditions.
- contract amendments.
- milestones including payments.
- expirations and renewals.
- production, packaging, and delivery requirements.
- quality assurance, disputes, and claims.
- vendor performance analysis and risk assessments.
- stakeholder communication.
- and contract closeouts.
Post Award Contract Management Best Practices
Post award contract management best practices are the critical actions that are widely considered industry standards to help streamline managing contract processes after a contract is signed. These processes include obligations, compliance, and renewals. Efficient and effective contract management best practices usually involve the use of leading contract lifecycle management software (CLM).
Streamline Contract Obligations and Compliance Oversight
Manually auditing and reporting contract compliance with tools such as spreadsheets can prove time-consuming and, often, frustrating.
Fortunately, contract management software offers advanced auditing and reporting features - including visually engaging graphical dashboards. These tools can help retain optimized compliance oversight within your organization and with external stakeholders, including DBE tracking for strong supplier diversity. With the help of detailed contract audit trails and milestone tracking, you can remain informed of upcoming fulfillable contractual obligations and non-compliance contract areas. Leading CLM software offers robust contractual compliance management auditing and tracking features such as:
- highly-configurable dashboards for prioritized areas of contractual compliance.
- ad-hoc reporting for system and user-defined reports that can be exported to Excel.
- an online report designer tool to configure dynamic report layouts for at-a-glance contractual compliance management assessment.
Discover in the whitepaper below how contract intelligence can help you streamline contract lifecycle management processes and manage contractual compliance risk.
Overseeing internal and external OFAC compliance without the right tracking tool can waste time and resources. Fortunately, leading contract software can empower you with an OFAC search graphical risk tool. This functionality can help identify if your contracts, involved vendors, and employees comply with the Office of Foreign Asset Control's national sanctions list.
This graphical risk visualization allows you to identify a contract's OFAC compliance both in the pre-award and post-award stage – increasing robust risk mitigation. Similarly, you can configure rules to notify you in essentially real-time if an entity meets or exceeds a specific OFAC Search percentage. This can allow for swift risk mitigation before it becomes untenable.
CORs and Post Award Acquisition Procedures
CORs face the challenge of managing the most critical step in government contracting. However, it's not the primary role they were trained to do. Yet they are expected to handle the technical and administrative aspects of post-award contracts.
Relying on memory, spreadsheets, emails, and unavailable stakeholders can lead to bottlenecks and a lack of power to virtually ensure legal compliance around negotiations and issue resolution. CORs must determine if the government is receiving value through its contracts and vendors, and identify and analyze the causes of failed value realization. The recurring problem is that it’s nearly impossible to successfully manage post-award contracts when faced with the following challenges:
Lack of visibility: Contracts stored in disparate systems don't allow for accurate contract tracking, version control, and change management.
Lack of standardization: Contracts without a standard process for expiration and renewal management lead to unwanted automatic renewals, weaker negotiation positioning, lost revenue, and missed opportunities.
Lack of communication: When the contract is finally awarded, communication issues will negatively impact post-award performance. From slow feedback cycles to clause changes to amendments to renegotiations, poor communication will lead to significant issues. Too often, the COR is the last to know of any changes or problems.
How Government Agencies Can Get the Most Out of Contracted Dollars
To get the most out of contracted dollars, government agencies should support their CORs with leadership and government contract administration training. This training will position them to take the unofficial but very much-needed role of a contract performance manager.
CORs are the key to getting the most out of contracted dollars. With a combination of the right training and tools, contract managers can be empowered to effectively manage:
- validation and verification of contract deliverables.
- savings and liability management.
- reduction of low-value tasks.
- contract ROI assessment.
- vendor performance management.
- revenue reporting.
- invoicing and payment management.
- compliance tracking.
- obligation management.
- expiration and renewal management.
- and opportunity identification.
Post-award contract management can result in big returns. Take a $300 billion contracting budget, for example. Consider that incremental contracting improvements have the potential to yield significant returns. These returns can continually lead to improving contract performance before closeout.
The Most Important Post Award Contract Management Best Practice
The tool that will support contract managers is post-award automation with a government contract management solution.
The best practice for contract management is to move away from a manual approach to government contract management to automated post-award government contract management. Leading government contract management software can help government agencies seamlessly manage pre-award contracts (acquisition and sourcing) and post-award contracts. Automated post-award contract management improves operational efficiency and:
- helps contract managers correct non-performance with post-award analytics.
- leverages contract data to build more robust contracts in the future.
- optimizes vendor performance for lowered risk, supplier consolidation opportunities, and volume-level discounts.
- ensures compliance with a secure repository, version tracking, and audit trails.
- leverages AI to predict supply or security risk.
- provides contract visibility throughout the agency.
- streamlines contract authoring to minimize the use of internal resources.
- makes contract drafting fast, easy, and less error-prone.
- integrates and connects with ERP, CRM, and more.
Leverage Contract Renewal Automation Tools
Contract automation can help public- and private-sector legal departments review contract renewals proactively. As such, they can quickly maximize the volume of renewals completed on time with favorable contract negotiations and reduced risk.
Leading contract lifecycle management software can help you identify valuable renewal opportunities. You can alert stakeholders to proactively review and make decisions while reducing the risk of claims and disputes. Moreover, you can seamlessly create new contracts based on existing contract portfolios.
Leading CLM software tools can equip you with:
- automated reminders and calendar alerts for effective renewals and obligations oversight.
- a secure and web-enabled contract repository with version tracking to easily search and access the current versions of contracts with up-to-date contract data.
- audit trails to track renewal status and every change made throughout the life of the contract.
- intelligent contract management workflows to automate tasks and facilitate fast negotiations, reviews, approvals, and signatures - while promoting organization-wide accountability.
- contract analytics that provide insight into the value and risk of all contract types - uncomplicating renewal decisions.
- proprietary IntelliSign® electronic signatures for faster and more secure sign-offs.
- proprietary VISDOM® artificial intelligence tools for proactive risk management.
Reap the Rewards of Post Award Contract Management with CobbleStone®
Discover how you can maximize post award contract management with CobbleStone Contract Insight® CLM software. Don't waste any more time with contract management bottlenecks. Request your free 30-day trial today!
Discover why thousands of contract managers within the United States of America and internationally trust CobbleStone to achieve document management success. Considering CobbleStone Contract Insight’s highly configurable software system, it’s no wonder why CobbleStone is recognized as the Leader in the Spark MatrixTM CLM Software Report.
CobbleStone’s trusted, award-winning, highly integrated CLM software streamlines the contract lifecycle management process. It provides optimal governance, reduced friction, and high flexibility from contract requests to renewals.
CobbleStone Software has been a visionary leader in CLM software for over twenty years. CobbleStone’s user-friendly, robust, and scalable solution seamlessly integrates with mission-critical applications for unified and seamless contract management. CobbleStone Software, as a software provider, also remains SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliant to encourage paramount security.
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*Legal Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. The content of this article is for general informational and educational purposes only. The information on this website may not present the most up-to-date legal information. Readers should contact their attorney for legal advice regarding any particular legal matter.
This blog was originally published on September 4th, 2019, and updated on October 24th, 2022.