Contracting is an unavoidable aspect of running a business, but it is also a standard operation for government agencies. Although the types of contracts obviously vary, as well as the goals of the contract portfolio itself, there is likely not much difference with respect to the general contract management process. Granted, some contract management systems may be more geared toward the needs of the private sector, but there are plenty of solutions available that can benefit public bodies.
At the local level, city councils often have less resources and manpower, but that does not mean that they will be unable to find an affordable solution that satisfies their contract management requirements. And, given the volume and complexity of the contracts for which city councils are responsible, it is particularly important for a solid system to be implemented. Here are some of the ways that city councils can save time and money with a strong contract management service:
Keep Infrastructure Projects on Track
City councils across the country are frequently engaged in contract bidding with engineering firms, construction companies, and building contractors to fix, update, and install new infrastructure. Obviously, this leads to the execution of a lot of contracts, as much of the infrastructure is in dire need of repair.
Fortunately, most of the key elements of the contract are set forth during the bidding process, so once the contract is formalized, oversight should be primarily focused on ensuring that deadlines are met and there is appropriate progress pursuant to the terms of the deal. With a contract management system, key milestones can be entered so that an email alert will be generated at the appropriate time to ensure there is proactive communication to ascertain whether the contract conditions are being met. Anytime there are delays, there can be enormous costs to try to catch up, so staying in front of potential issues is crucial.
Monitor Multiple Leases and Utility Service Agreements
After construction contracts, leases and utility agreements probably comprise a substantial portion of a city council’s contract portfolio. These sort of agreements generally require action on a monthly and sometimes quarterly basis, and for the city this generally entails both making payments and receiving rental income. There will likely be various dates on which those payments will be sent and received, so someone will have to keep an eye on whether the funds are coming in and going out in a timely fashion.
This is another situation in which creating customized alerts can be incredibly helpful and reduce the likelihood that there are missing funds or late payments. A contract management solution is a great way to centralize the many agreements the city council must oversee and it makes it easier to supervise all of them.
Facilitate City Attorney Contract Review
In government projects, there are a lot of folks in different departments and agencies that must be involved in different phases of a project. For contracts, in particular, city and county attorneys will no doubt play an important role in contract oversight, as they must ensure that the city is getting a good deal and will want to be on the lookout for potential liabilities that could bankrupt city operations.
In light of the many people it takes to run a city and oversee its various projects, it is important to have a coherent data storage and sharing plan in place. This sort of plan should include general project documents, and obviously contracts must be factored in as well. The easiest way to safely store and share contracts is via an online contract management service that incorporates rigorous data security features into its platform. Once contracts are uploaded, it is easy for the administrator to grant and restrict access to other individuals, as appropriate, such as when a city or county attorney needs to consult a contract. This eliminates the need to waste time and money on printing or emailing volumes of documents, and it helps to safeguard the data.
Expedite External Professional Services
Of course, in addition to seeking legal advice from attorneys, there are also other professional service providers that will need to review city contracts from time to time. For example, the financial and tax implications of city contracts will need to be analyzed by accountants and liability issues will need to be examined by insurance companies. Thus, just as a centralized contract database will allow for quick and safe sharing with attorneys, this same system can be used to grant and restrict access to any external professional service providers as well. Of course, it also ensures that important information is transmitted via secure means.
Managing a busy contract portfolio requires a keen attention to detail and diligent oversight, and for the public sector, restricted resources can make this an even more difficult task than it already is. As a result, city councils can save a lot of time and money by relying on a dynamic contract management solution that will eliminate some of the costly and time-consuming tasks.