Trident Contract Management Blog


Working with the Big O – Centralize Your Contracts and License Data

Posted on by Brett Armstrong

mp900341902.jpegOracle is often portrayed as the big bully on the block. Difficult to work with, your contacts never remain the same, there are hidden layers of “approvers” for any deal negotiation with your sales representative, and their pricing model is complex and nontransparent. But, don’t forget that Oracle provides powerful tools in terms of database, ERP, and other applications and they are acquiring new companies with strong technology all the time (there is a reason why your company has invested significant resources into Oracle). Oracle is not going away so it is best to prepare to work with them for many years to come.

Here are the steps to begin managing your Oracle licensing compliance and managing your Oracle relationship:

1. Identify all the Oracle licenses your organization owns.  Gather all purchased license history. Specifically, collect all original order documents and signed agreements with Oracle. Go to your file cabinets, check your shared drives, and try to find someone at Oracle to help you get some of the documents you are missing. It has been our experience that Oracle will often find some (but rarely all) the pertinent documents.  (Remember it is your responsibility not Oracle’s to keep track of your order documents and agreements.)

Going forward, your organization should capture all the necessary the information at the time of purchase and make it readily available to your IT staff and the team you are putting together to work with Oracle.

2. Create a purchasing spreadsheet; or better yet, start populating this information into a central repository to enhance the active license management of your Oracle environment.

Centralizing this information provides several benefits, including:
a. A single source of license information, contracts, order documents, SLAs, and related purchase orders;
b. A reduction of lost licenses that are bought but not in production;
c. The ability to identify and deploy old licenses at locations or for functions that do not require the latest version;
d. Purchase updates for existing licenses rather than purchasing a new full license; and
e. Allow you to create a pool of licenses that are owned but not deployed.

3. Identify the entitlements associated with these licenses. What are your rights and restrictions for each license? Do not assume that an email or conversation with the sales representative is correct or enforceable. Stated another way – never assume a license usage right.

4. Identify your current license inventory, including where and how it is deployed. Collect data that includes license usage, underlying hardware architecture and supported application(s) usage. Identify the usage metrics from the purchasing data collected earlier to determine the specific usage data to collect. For example, with Oracle Database you will need to work with the DBA personnel to determine the optimal way to identify these details. Measurement must be taken during a period of maximum usage (“high water mark”). The high water mark is not an average of the count taken during the measurement period, but rather the highest number of concurrent devices measured during the period. Measurements should be taken at peak usage levels to account for seasonal, or cyclical fluctuations.

5. Match your owned licenses (with identified entitlements) to your deployed count or inventory to confirm that each license in use is purchased and that its entitlements match its current and expected use. Are you using the licenses you bought? Are you using the licenses in the correct manner based on the entitlements?

6. Determine whether you are essentially in compliance right now. In other words, determine the adequacy of your owned licenses in use. (This step should be completed more than once a year.)

7. Set your short and long term goals and vision for your Oracle environment.

8. Determine if your existing license mix meets your needs for the foreseeable future by comparing expected usage against the usage metrics or the usage rights/restrictions set by Oracle.

With your desired outcomes identified and proper information at hand, you are ready to map out a successful strategy for working with Oracle.  Feel free to connect with Trident (tsteiner@ or 608-276-1909) if you need help figuring out where to start or help defining your options and achievable outcomes with Oracle.

Biting the Binary Tongue

Posted on by Temple Sutfin

MP900262237 (1)“Temple, why not write a blog for Trident?” They said.

“Anything in particular you would like me to write about?” I asked. “Whatever you would like.” They replied.

Where do I start? Naturally, when a solution eludes me, I turn to the foremost authority on the universe and its mysterious workings. Yep, I “Googled” it. It turns out that many seasoned authors like to tell aspiring authors to “write what you know!”

Awesome! Binary, bits, bytes, and nibbles (No … really … nibble: a collection of four bits). My inner geek squealed like a four year old girl on Christmas morning. I immediately sat down and wrote a very long-winded diatribe on the intricacies of recursive foreign keys and referential integrity constraints in a relational database. With a flourish of great pride and beaming accomplishment, I showed the work of art to my husband to proofread.

He fell asleep. It was 8 in the morning and he’d had two cups of coffee. Could my literary debut really be so boring? Was there “an English translation to my ‘gobbledygook’” as he put it? And then it occurred to me that he was from the planet Neptune and that I was really just dreaming. It was just like my mama always said, “To iterate is human, to recurse divine.” Ok, so that was L. Peter Deutsch, but come on – when am I ever going to get to bring that one out in idle conversation?

Still, there is something to be said for bridging that communication gap between an unnecessary technical explanation and just using layman’s terms. Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean you should. Many times over I face this issue with life in general.

My husband: “Hand me that two-eighteenths dual posi-algowrench lockometer.” (Yes, that is what it sounds like inside my head!)

Me: “You mean this silver thing with the blue loopy doo-dad at the end?”

Needless to say, when I came to work here at Trident Contract Management, I was completely blown away by the communication style amongst the staff. It doesn’t matter if you are in sales, development, or accounting. You could be an analyst or a consultant. The natural flowing language style is not threatening, or overbearing. It’s all about efficiency levels and respect. There is no need to under-simplify or over-techni-cate (my new word for the week). They are all about getting it right.

But every now and then I find myself biting the binary tongue and rethinking a sentence, but it’s a learning process and it takes time. Or, failing that, I might just “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.” I don’t know yet. It’s up in the air.

Contract Management – It’s Personal (and should be)

Posted on by Todd Steiner

MP900438585After 10+ years of helping our clients with their contract management efforts it still amazes me how personal contract management is to each organization and each stakeholder. Even the term “contract management” is personal. It can mean notification reminders and reports, document management, asset management, metadata management (all the details about the contract), process management, vendor management, a combination of these concepts, or something entirely different.The bottom line is that people want “contract management” to solve something that is personal to them (regardless of the initial need).

For most people “something” usually starts with a big picture organizational mandate (we need to reduce operational spend by 10%, comply with a new regulation, or report details to a new boss).The message and need can be clear but the breakdown occurs when those responsible for doing the work are already stretched thin, don’t have the tools/processes, or can’t get the people within the organization to consistently respond to their requests. So what do people do? They personalize the initial mandate to make it work for them.

The reason for this blog is not to state the obvious. It is intended to get people thinking about what an ideal solution for their environment would look like before they start the vendor vetting process.  If you have a foggy idea of what you want then vendors will be driving your needs to what they do best.  Put in the time to whiteboard the picture of what will solve the initial mandate and help those doing the work.

Here are some non-industry specific  examples of the types of review and desired fuctionality:

1.  Types of Contract Review (who are the stakeholders and what benefits do they want)

  • Legal Review
  • Financial Review
  • Risk/Compliance Review
  • Needs/Requirements Review (operationally does this contract solve our needs)

2.  Objectives/Functionality

  • Single shared repository with varied permissions
  • Document version control, review tools, indexing and search capabilities, audit trails, collaboration, and the ability to create new contracts
  • Document routing for approvals, review, comments, signature, and filing
  • Metadata about each contract (extracting useful information from the legalese)
  • Tracking and Email notifications
  • Dashboards and reporting

Feel free to connect with Trident (tsteiner@ or 608-276-1909) if you need help figuring out where to start or defining what you want.  There are lots of options available to you. Making it personal will produce your best results!

On Your Terms: Sit Down With Vendors on Your Schedule!

Posted on by Brett Armstrong

MP900316773[1]How does someone begin to develop a vendor management program? If you ask Dell for their “Top Tips for Better IT Vendor Management” they say “Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry.”  Essentially, their premise is the worst time to try and manage your vendor is when you need something from them.  I could not disagree more.  As in your business, your vendors drive to monthly, quarterly and annual goals.  The best time to discuss improving the relationship with a vendor or describing your requirements of them is when you are about to spend money with them.  You are about to help them reach their goals and I cannot think of a better time to ask your vendors to improve, explain, or fix the manner in which they are helping you achieve your goals.

When your team is about to spend money, you are already dedicating internal resources to the analysis of the transaction. At the same time, it is efficient to review your partnership with a vendor and determine the win – win scenario, not only with the transaction, but also moving forward as partners.  Identify what is working and what is not and use this time to make slight adjustments or course corrections to your relationship.

Manage all of your vendors when you have their attention.  You are about to spend money and your team is already engaged in some analysis.  It is efficient.

This overarching theme works for all vendors, not just your strategic vendors.

I think this sequence of developing a vendor management program is important to achieving the goals and honoring the effort of your staff.  Start with how you vet new vendors.

GATHER YOUR DATA: A new vendor is motivated to get past the gatekeepers. Use this motivation to gather the perfunctory documents and information you need to conduct business.  It should be a fairly rigorous process so that you do not require any additional security screenings or general documentation to do business with this vendor.  How they respond to your requests will start to provide insight on how they will value your partnership.

IDENTIFY STRATEGIC PARTNERS:  You know your business and your customers better than anyone else.  Before you create a complicated vendor scorecard, pick your obvious strategic partners and initially focus on managing them.  The initial value propositions of the vendor as defined by your team should be the outcomes your vendors are managed to.  The vendor is managed to these goals and outcomes until your team proves additional or replacement value propositions that merit tracking.

MANAGE THE SIZE OF YOUR STRATEGIC PARTNER POOL:  No other vendor should be accepted into this exclusive group without proving more strategic than a company already in the group (they can be a vendor but not a strategic vendor until they have a track record of providing value to your company).

With all other partners, you might want to start with managing the contractual entitlements and obligations on a transactional basis.  But remember to talk with them around the time you are about to pull out your wallet.

5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Contract Management Process

Posted on by Todd Steiner

MH900448357There are three components to every effective contract management solution – People, Technology, and Process. People and Technology are as important to the overall success of your program as two legs of a stool but Process is the glue – and third leg of the stool – that pulls everything together. In other words, if you unable to consistently repeat the required steps within your contract management process, then the best People and Technology in the world are just Band-Aids that will eventually peel away.

Unfortunately, most organizations avoid contract management process planning because it is the “heavy-lifting” part of the project. It requires more time, more effort, and more self examination then most organizations are willing to dedicate. The short cut is to buy the “silver-bullet” technology (contract management software, workflow applications, reporting tools…) and just expect their people to make it work. If this is your desired direction you may get lucky and everything will come together. However most will encounter elongated implementation cycles, rising costs (more time, more software, more development), and unreliable long term results.

Before you even review technology options and who are the people that will be involved, here are five simple Process development steps management should consider prior to getting started.

Step 1 – Why are you looking for change?

Something is happening in your environment that has moved effective contract management from the dredges of a perennial project 11 position to the top of your list. It may be a dire need to drive cost savings, a time consuming audit that now has you refocused on asset/contract management, or a merger/acquisition/divestiture that hasn’t gone well due to lack of insight to what you actually own.  It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you take the time define crystal clear and measurable goals – reasons why you are doing this – before you start.

Step 2 – What would happen if you were successful?

Defining the reasons why you are tackling an effective contract management solution is a great start! However in order to get approval, funding, and buy-in/commitment to this project, you will need to build a solid business case to compete for scarce resources. Your business case should include where dollars/time/resources saved by your new process will used, what specific projects could benefit, and how the company will benefit from the new allocations.

Step 3 – Review your current process

Start by reviewing your current process using the 80/20 rule. Every process has its set of exceptions but 80%+ of the time it works a certain way.  You will need to document every step in detail and determine what is working and what needs to be changed.

Step 4 – Make small changes

You are not going to eat an entire whale in one bite. The same can be said about making changes to your current contract management process. Focus on small incremental changes that provide quick wins – areas that have measurable value to the organization and can be used to build momentum.

Step 5 – Build a continuous review plan

Assign someone the responsibility for scheduling monthly, quarterly, or annual process review meetings – include management. Highlight the measurable success you have had, discuss the next series of small changes, and set goals for what the desired results should look like.

Your Never Ending Vendor/Contract Management Workday

Posted on by Todd Steiner

3_23_12_neverending_NickCholes_01resizedRemember the good old days when you had a full staff and at the end of the day the work was completed?  It was a golden age when you could start the day with sense of excitement, work hard, and end it with fulfillment. Part of this mythical time still exists but part is missing.  We may still start the day with a sense of excitement and work hard but never get to the fulfillment part.

There are more reasons than we can cover why this may be true for all of you but in the world of vendor/asset/contract management there is one primary culprit – the never ending work day. We may still be able to leave at 5:00pm each day (if you’re lucky) but it is always with the empty feeling that we didn’t get even close to everything that needed to be done that day and there will be more piling on tomorrow. Hiring freezes, newly accepted corporate cultures of “do more with less”, growing regulatory requirements, and increasing audits are just a few of the challenges that are all working against us. So what can you do?

Let’s start with a few of the “not-really-the best-ideas-for-your-career” ideas. Tantrums are attention getting but soon you will be ignored. Being a perennial “Debbie Downer” will earn you nothing but a seat in the lunch room by yourself.  And becoming Pavlov’s dog (merely reacting to a situation rather than using critical thinking) is a perfect way to make sure your career stalls.

Unfortunately, there is not one answer that will remedy all situations but there is one tried and true step we can all take – get proactive. The concept is founded on the age old principle of time management. Creating more time to gather requirements, to understand your options, and to negotiate to your position will create better business decisions. It will also allow you to spread your workload out so you are completing what needs to be done in a less reactive manner. The results will be immediate, significant, and long lasting. Ready to try?  Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Start by gathering every department’s vendor/contract management spreadsheets and a current budget report (and the previous years if it is available). You may not uncover every vendor but it is a good start.


Consolidate the information and place every vendor in a month when their contract is going to expire. Some contracts will be perpetual (no end date) agreements or have periodic review dates for long term leases. Place those agreements in a month you think is appropriate for an annual review.


Use technology to set notification reminders and auto generate reports that start your contract review process 90+ days prior to the expiration date or the required written notice cancellation date. There are inexpensive cloud-based contract management database options (like that work great!

Smile, you are on your way to fulfillment!

Your Contract Management Central Source of Truth Left. Now What?

Posted on by Todd Steiner

Iconoclass_NickCholes_01resizedThere’s one in every organization. The go-to person people ask a question of first when they don’t know the answer. This person knows where you buy paper clips, who to call to get the copier jam fixed, when preventative maintenance is due on your air conditioning units, and what it is going to cost to keep the place running for another month.

These valuable individuals have achieved this status through years of service. Mostly likely, they have also been gifted the abandoned, but highly important, task of contract management.  Everything they know about vendors, contracts and assets is on spreadsheets, somewhere in file cabinets, and in their heads.  And someday they are going to leave.

As a savvy business leader you knew this day was coming because this responsible and honest person gave you ample notice. That’s why you built in cross-training policies, have a firm understanding of every contract obligation throughout every department in the organization, and have finally completed the “brain bump” helmet you have been working on for the past year.  Right?!

Well, maybe it is time for a little bit of panic.  After all, it may take you 12-18 months (or longer to ferret out multi-year contracts) of vendor/supplier/contractor driven renewal quotes and invoices to know that you have everything covered.  You can assign this task to the next legend-in-the-making, have them build new spreadsheets, call everyone, gather everything, and repeat the process.  I am sure there a plenty of people lined up at the door with nothing else to do.  Until then, your management team will completely understand the huge swings in monthly spend because you didn’t know “that” contract was coming due this month.  No problem.

It is inevitable that certain people will take on Solomon-like positions of knowledge within your business. Some people are just plain good at it.  But by taking a simple first step, centralizing your contracts using the reputable and proven cloud-based solution, you can gain protection from the risks the departure of few key individuals can levy against you and the business.

So, what’s the first step in getting started? Centralize Your Contracts

Build the Business Case

Change is difficult for businesses of any size.  You will need to build a business case for upper management in order to get their approval and support.  The ROI should include time saving, cost savings, and reduced risk benefits.

Build/Buy a Central Source of Truth

The ubiquitous build vs. buy question.  You will need to review what internal resources may be available (i.e. shared file server) and research what options are available in the marketplace.  Either way, make sure all costs are considered.

Keep it simple

Don’t build/buy a Cadillac when a bicycle will do.  Start with a basic solution that can mimic your existing spreadsheet fields.  It will increase user adoption (nothing new to learn) and you can always add functionality down the road.

Start today

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of contracts stored in desk drawers and file cabinets.  No worries.  Draw a line in the sand and start moving forward.  Over time you can add existing contracts as time permits.

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