Avoid Human Error During the Procurement Process

For legal professionals working within the corporate procurement process, the accuracy of contracts is paramount. Not only that though, the contract process itself can tie up considerable amounts of time – and in the grand scheme of things, this time can often translate to lost money or opportunities for the business. However, with today’s modern software tools for handling legal documents, there’s no reason why this should be the case.
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Stressed lawyer working late at night because he has seen a human error in his contract

 
Some procurement contracts are relatively easy to complete, for example when dealing with the office caterer or water cooler supplier. But others can be fiendishly complex, with stakeholders spanning multiple departments, and risks and possible loopholes lurking around every corner. In these situations, a robust contract is essential, and often highly time consuming.

According to an article featured on the General Counsel News website, many companies take more than a month to go from an initial ‘handshake’ with a supplier or partner to an actual signed contract. Drawing on a survey on contract management, the article concludes that one of the main reasons for this is a lack of automation in the contract process, with 74% of respondents reporting that their processes are not automated. 68% meanwhile said that their contract processes were affected by human error ‘very often’.

Even in highly trained and qualified individuals such as lawyers, human error is to be expected, and well, human. The difference is that in many professions a mistake can happily go unnoticed without any trouble whatsoever, but in the legal procurement process the results can be embarrassing at best and catastrophic at worst.
 

What kinds of human error?

    • Spelling mistakes/typos
    • Incorrect numbers, figures or details
    • Not noticing information or fine details contained in contracts received

    Osler, in an article on procurement pitfalls, state that, “errors in the procurement process are an ongoing source of litigation risk. When discovered after the process is completed and the winner has been selected, some errors can be used by successful bidders to get out of contracts they are no longer comfortable with – or by unsuccessful bidders to argue that their bids should be reconsidered in light of the corrected information.”

    These errors and their frequency can be exacerbated by all too human factors such as fatigue, stress, complacency, lack of resources/ personnel, and an abundance of pressure, as detailed in a post by Salmir Dias JR on the twelve most common error preconditions.

    These pitfalls then can be avoided by not only reducing the influence of these factors which make human error more likely, but by having a system which allows these errors to be easily detected and corrected at an early stage before the finalisation and completion of the business contract and procurement process. These ‘human error prevention tools’ exist in the form of software solutions for dealing with both digital and printed legal documents.

    One of the key reasons that mistakes can easily be missed within complex legal documents relating to the procurement process is that such documents can be quite numerous and lengthy by nature. By using a solution like Power PDF you can make checking all such documents relatively effortless but entirely meticulous.

    For example, by scanning printed documents into Power PDF you can digitise them into PDF form, making them instantly searchable using Nuance’s ‘smart search’ functionality.  Smart search enables you to not only search through the converted document for specific words or phrases, but also search for types of details within contracts, such as procurement codes and phone numbers, based on character patterns.

    Similarly, Power PDF can be used to quickly check the procurement contracts produced by you or members of your team. Once automatically identified, these human errors can be instantly corrected using the software’s PDF edit function. If you’re working within a large team, you can also use Power PDF’s collaboration capabilities to add comments and annotations to contracts as needed during the procurement drafting process.

    Once you’re satisfied with the contract, you can also use Power PDF’s Microsoft security and rights management features to protect, secure and share it. These enable you to add passwords to the document and secure it with 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption, as well as setting custom permissions to control access as needed.

    Power PDF can help you save time and avoid costly errors within legal contracts during the procurement process. Click here to find out more about Nuance’s legal document solutions.

    Sources:

    Eliminate procurement errors

    Nuance Power PDF will make it possible to digitise and instantly search contracts received, and systematically check legal contracts drawn up by your team.

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