Eating your own dog food – 5 insights from using our very own contract management solution

This is an old blog post when Zefort was known as Oh, those were the days!

Have you heard that the shoemaker’s children walk barefoot? Or that doctors make the worst patients and that the carpenter’s house always needs work?

Here’s a new one: “AI developers stick to doing things manually”.

It took us some time before we at Aivan started to use our very own as our contract management solution. The usual excuses apply: in the beginning, the number of contracts was so low that we didn’t see this necessary. Next we were so focused on customer projects and product development to go online and create an account. And so on.

“Hey, does anyone know where the office lease contract is?” echoing through Aivan HQ was the wake-up call for us. It was time to crack open our very own can of dog food and start using for contract management.

Here’s the list of top revelations we had:

1. Volume of ‘miscellaneous’ contracts is surprisingly high

We started contract upload with our customer contracts. We had a very clear understanding of the number of these contracts as well where they can be found (no, not from the Inbox.. but from the second usual suspect: the network drive).

Once the customer contracts were fed to the system, we started to gather all other contracts: employment contracts, office lease, occupational health, consulting contracts, mobile subscriptions, NDAs, banking contracts, insurance, printer… Once we had all these sorted out, the sheer number of these contracts really blew us away.

2. One-email contract archiving really rocks

Knowing that we are a bit biased to say this: it was super easy to get the contracts in from your inbox – you just have to forward the email to a dedicated address to have your contract available in your inbox. After this, all you need to do is to check the AI-proposed metadata in batches.

3. ‘Reminders’ should actually be called ‘Actions’.

Reminders is a good way to implement a contract in an organization. A valid contract should not be a passive document forgotten in an archive.

With reminders, it is easy to ensure that none of the important milestones will be missed in the future. Some of the reminders were targeted to the contract owner, but some to other departments, such as finance. We actually started to wonder if we should rename ‘Reminders’ to ‘Actions’. We’ll see 🙂

4. Not everything is in the contracts – e-mail discussions count, too!

During contract upload, we noticed that there was quite a lot of contract implementation related discussion in many emails.

This information should stored in as well! So, we updated the product roadmap with a feature where the user can easily forward any email to with relevant discussion becoming also indexed and searchable by the contract management tool.

Here our key design driver also applies: make it as easy as possible for the human user.

5. Contract search – something you cannot live without

Having a Google-level search in contract management solution really pays off. Sometimes we needed to find a contract with some exceptional terms. A very easy task with a free-text search covering the contract itself as well as all appendices. Also, from the governance point of view, powerful free-text search really helps.

So, it’s safe to say that we find our own dog food quite tasty. Why it took us so long to start eating it – that we cannot understand. If you want to make your life simpler, there’s no better time to start than today.

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