Nailing IT Contract Management: A Procurement Pro’s Guide to Minimizing Risks

By Robert Wright posted 10-02-2023 02:24 PM


Let's chat about IT contract management. It's more than just fancy signatures and legalese; it's about ensuring that the contracts you sign won't come back to haunt you (and your company). The question is: How do you craft an IT contract that's as tight as your favorite pair of jeans, without the risk of unexpected "rips"?

Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of top tips to limit those pesky contract risks. Let's dive right in!

1. Get to Know Your Vendor

Before any ink hits the paper, do your homework. Understand your vendor's history, reputation, and financial stability. A strong foundation prevents future misunderstandings.  Our CAUCUS Community is an excellent resource for this!

2.  Crystal Clear Scope and Deliverables

The more ambiguous your contract, the greater the risk. Clearly outline the scope, milestones, deliverables, and any specific standards you expect.  

3. Payment Terms? Make Them Precise!

Avoid vague payment terms like "upon completion". Instead, opt for specifics, such as "30 days after the submission of monthly report".  And don't forget, "Acceptance" isn't a dirty word.  

4. Implement Strong Exit and Termination Clauses

Breakups are hard, but sometimes necessary. Make sure you have a clear, fair exit strategy in place. Think about what happens with data, transition assistance, and penalties for early termination.

5. Stay Wary of Auto-Renewals

Sometimes, auto-renewal can catch you off guard (and not in a fun surprise-party way). Ensure you have reminders in place and review contracts before they auto-renew.

6.  Limitation of Liability: Your Safety Net

Make sure your contracts have a limitation of liability clause that makes sense for your organization. This ensures that if things go south, there’s a cap on potential damages and the ability to go after your supplier 

7. Intellectual Property Rights? Seal Them Tight!

For IT contracts, IP is often the crown jewel. Clearly delineate who owns what, from software codes to documentation.

8.  Dispute Resolution: Keep It Friendly

Let's face it: disagreements happen. Instead of heading straight to court, consider more amicable (and cost-effective) methods like mediation or arbitration.

9.  Stay Updated with IT Compliance and Regulations

The world of IT is ever-evolving, and so are its regulations. Ensure your contracts are compliant with the latest laws, standards, and industry best practices.

10.  Engage Legal Early and Often

Your legal team (or advisor) is there for a reason. Engage them in the contract drafting and review process. Their expertise can spot and mitigate risks you might miss.

To wrap things up, IT contract management is much like a dance. It requires balance, foresight, and a clear understanding of your partner (in this case, the vendor). By keeping these tips in your back pocket, you'll be well on your way to crafting contracts that protect and serve your company's best interests.

And remember, every contract is a learning experience. So, put on those dancing shoes, and let's tango!