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Project Title:Boosting Efficiency, Savings and Service with a Centralized Contract Management Software SolutionInstitution Name:Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Innovation Category:Operational Efficiency Project Director:Ms. Judy Harral, Executive Director, Administrative Services, Division of Finance & AdministrationContact Information:(361) 825-2495, judy.harral@tamucc.eduWebsite:N/A
Project Description:

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (A&M-Corpus Christi) implemented a contract software management database solution resulting in a centralized repository of all contracts including audit trails stored in digital format that have the tools to quickly access important information, generate reports, execute contracts and receive automatic reminders of critical dates all at once without having to track contract folders and deal with misfiled or missing paperwork. The primary beneficiaries of this system are the contract, purchasing, and accounts payable department and our customers; i.e., internal departmental managers and the many external vendors, entities and organization with which the university does business.  The system has increased efficiency and has contributed to both cost avoidance and cost reduction.

 

Objectives:The purchasing department has witnessed a rapid increase in contracts, which themselves have proven to be increasingly complex in nature.  A review of the university contract operation revealed a need for a procedural change. The objective was to purchase a contract software management system that would (1) improve the lack of easy access to A&M-Corpus Christi contracts due to using an outdated tracking system; (2) improve contract monitoring; (3) track the beginning and ending dates of contracts, and (4) share data with campus users and improve customer service. The above parameters were used to evaluate the different contract software management products available on the market.
Outcomes:The university’s purchasing department currently has 12 users on the Blue Ridge software program, which grants users access to the entire university contract database without leaving the office or manually searches for files. The designated program users can send copy of a contract immediately to a requester electronically. The Purchasing Department’s customers and internal auditors are very pleased with our response time to requested information. We now store a repository of all contract information, including audit trails in a centralized digital database that has the capability to search alphabetically, ability to set alarms to monitor expiration date of contracts, send email notification to departments, and have access to a shared database.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The challenges we faced were two-fold. (1) Finding the right software system that would provide us with the necessary tools, be user friendly, and cost effective. It took several staff hours to review vendor demonstrations on the website/software system before a decision was made to purchase the Blue Ridge Software Program. (2) The second challenge we encountered was the time and effort it took for the Purchasing Department staff to enter old contracts and vendor information into the database. The data entering process took about a month to complete.
Evaluation Approach:

The university now has an ability to review contracts in advance and research renegotiation points; cancel contracts in required timeframes without penalty or increased escalation costs; monitor complete contract status in the centralized database; and has timely communications with departments.  Personnel time is saved, thus minimizing missing deadlines. We have eliminated time consuming manual processes and now have every contract available at a click of a mouse, resulting in improved customer service.

 

The total cost of the system was $11,395 with 12 license users. The annual support and renewal maintenance fee is $2,482. The return on investment is in contract efficiencies, with improved processing of contracts with fewer errors, personnel time freed up and allocated to more important tasks, and reduced paper.

Potential for Replication:The Blue Ridge software program has been replicated and being used at two other A&M System universities. The software program is easy to use and does not require any adjustments or changes.  The software program comes in three versions: a standard edition for a single user; Contract Assistant Pro Edition for multi-user base; and Enterprise Edition for multiple users. A decision would have to be made on the appropriate version to purchase.
AASCU Resources:

April 2010 Report—Public College and University Procurement: A Survey of the State Regulatory Environment, Institutional Procurement Practices, and Efforts Toward Cost Containment. AASCU study conducted in collaboration with the National Association of Educational Procurement. Recommendations for systems and institutions articulated on pages 26-28, which supports operational efficiencies that streamline the procurement process, such as contract management database solutions, as featured in this case illustration.

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CEO-to-CEO Contact:Flavius Killebrew , President(361) 825-2621
flavius.killebrew@tamucc.edu
Date Published: Monday, October 3, 2011