As plain vanilla network management and cloud deployment services become increasingly commoditized, channel pros must find higher margin, differentiating offerings to add. In this abbreviated and lightly edited Q&A, Brandon Wright, director of partner relations at Redwood City, Calif.-based business process optimization software maker Agiloft Inc. discusses one such opportunity—contract management solutions.
ChannelPro: How would you describe contract management as a business opportunity for our readers?
Wright: There are everything from SMBs to Fortune 500s that still don’t have a comprehensive contract management system. So that’s a space where we’re seeing a lot of growth, and our partners are seeing a lot of sales…The annual recurring revenue is a big thing too, whether they go with SaaS or on-premise. We have an annual licensing model, so our partners are able to continue to get that revenue year after year.
ChannelPro: How difficult a field is this to get into? What kind of skills do you need to acquire?
Wright: Really, it’s just talking to the customer, understanding their requirements, and then typically what our partners will do is set up a free trial knowledge space for them, an Agiloft free trial knowledge space, and do a demonstration. So the customer might say “You know, we have 10 different types of contracts that we often need to create, and we need to be reminded when they’re coming up for renewal, and we have an approval process, and different approvals take place based on the contract type. And we want emails to go out to let people know when it’s their turn to approve. And then we want to get reports on where we are in the approval process…We want a weekly or monthly or daily reports. We want to be able to do searches of the contract repository.”
So for the reseller, it’s just a matter of being able to gather those business requirements, and then through online admin training, they learn how to configure the system so they can show their customers how Agiloft can accomplish those goals for contract management.
ChannelPro: How would you summarize the advantages for the end user, of adopting a contract management system?
Wright: Well, companies lose huge amounts of money if they miss a renewal. There’s a lot of different ways that having an automated contract management system can really make them much more efficient. It gives them visibility into the contracts that they have. It gives them auditability, where they can actually see the day and time stamp of the person who approved the contract as it went through the process. It allows you to not miss deadlines.
And really, it just makes [contract management] much more fast and efficient. We deal with really big companies that are still working with some combination of Excel spreadsheets and emails and other things, where they don’t have the visibility so they have a difficult time finding contracts and finding renewal dates…So it just makes it a much more efficient process, and one where they’re not losing money.