Four key tips to strengthen contract management in your MAT

24th January 2023

No two contracts are alike. Different suppliers offer different terms and yet, after the procurement process is complete, contract management is often overtaken by more urgent tasks.

Jon Sharps, Director of Financials & Compliance at Civica has compiled four ways smart software can vastly enhance contract management and ultimately improve that bottom line. 

After a rigorous procurement process, suppliers are set up, and service delivery is fully implemented and running smoothly, it can be easy to turn to the next big project. But the contract management process doesn’t stop once signatures are exchanged. Existing contracts are often overlooked in a busy school environment due to lack of time to analyse agreements.

The Schools White Paper chartered a clear course for our education system, with an entirely Trust-led environment envisaged by 2030. Faced with rising costs and ever greater demands on their finite resources, schools are already feeling the pinch. The move towards multi-academy trusts (MATs) has the potential to be revolutionary. A key attraction of joining a MAT will be a world-class digital operating platform which simplifies and streamlines time-consuming tasks. Smart and effective contract management processes can vastly enhance resources and bring greater cost-effective value to schools day-to-day.

1. Store contracts centrally and securely

Using manual practices to store contracts like paper and filing cabinets, or local drives and emails, can bring security risk and disorganisation. Manual and offline storage makes it difficult to keep contracts secure, maintain version control, comply with key dates, monitor milestones and ensure the right people are on the same page. Building an accurate school contract register with accompanying key information can be a real game-changer. It’s not just about where documents are held, it’s an opportunity to achieve better outcomes and make cost savings.

A vast amount of confidential information is handled within a contract’s lifecycle. With personal information, account details and other sensitive data, schools and MATs need to have a firm grasp on who can see what. A system with clearly defined permissions prevents security breaches and reduces the risk of sensitive data reaching unauthorised eyes.

A central, cloud-based system is integral for eliminating over expenditure, overseeing contractual relationships and improving performance. This is exactly what Civica Financials helps MATs to achieve. We enable trust leaders to maintain firm control of contractual funds, automatically plan for future contractual outgoings and ensure that all obligations, metrics and commitments are met. Everything is streamlined, instant and accurate.

Learn more about school contract registers

2. Automate the contract lifecycle

We understand the constant pressure to deliver value as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. However, inefficient workflows can seriously cripple the flow of the contract’s delivery. Inelegant, manual processes demand MAT leaders to actively oversee every stage of the contract’s journey. Any delay impedes forecasting accounts if contractual outgoings aren’t factored into reports, resulting in dire financial consequences that can lead to wasteful spending.

It’s time MATs work smarter, not harder. Smart technology that provides automated workflows eliminate hurdles by engaging the right people at the right time. Streamlined workflows with live reporting is what Civica Financials specialises in. The system automates future contractual outgoings against unique ledger codes so MATs can report and plan upcoming budgets with contract commitments instantly factored in.

3. Always use benchmarking best practices

As we move toward an entirely MAT-led environment within the decade, naturally, internal processes will evolve to support additional joining schools. Periodically reviewing what the MAT needs against the cost and level of service provided by existing contractors is vital. Gathering insights on market trends and learning what other MATs use can highlight gaps that haven’t been previously observed or spark innovative ideas for improvement.

A central place to benchmark tangible metrics of contracts is integral to getting the maximum value. This way, MATs can get a bigger picture of performance and productivity and hold suppliers to account if there are any issues. Civica Financials provides the tools to record market information and measure metrics and milestones against contracts. MATs can effortlessly track KPIs against expectations so if a contractor falls short, MATs have the confidence to negotiate service terms or look for another supplier.

4. Choose suppliers that specifically work with the education sector

Choosing services and products that are designed especially for the education sector can be an easy way to ensure and review MATs are on the right track. A good supplier will be knowledgeable with best practices in their field and will want to ensure their product or service is performing smoothly. Why not leverage their expertise? Meet regularly with contractors and account managers to talk about the MAT’s strengths, weaknesses, targeted outcomes and get advice or support to ensure goals are met.

As the largest public software provider, Civica helps MATs organise their priorities, set and review contractual expectations against key dates and receive automated alerts prior to these milestones so you can ensure you’re maximising school budget. We help MATs on their journey to success.

On-demand webinar: MAT contract management best practices: seeing the bigger picture

To help you efficiently maximise budgets and stay in control of your contracts, watch our webinar showcasing how effective contract management best practices can be a real game-changer to your MAT.

Watch now