Planning the Launch of a Contract Management Application

By the time publishers are seriously considering contract management services, they have experienced such operational pain that they are ready to do the proverbial “head nod”. In other words, as an organization they acknowledge the need WITHOUT understanding the implications on operations and workflow. In order to successfully launch contract management solutions, there are several key steps you need to take in order to execute successfully.

Create Your Workflow

Contract management applications are generally pretty flexible when it comes to creating the workflow necessary to take an order from RFP to invoicing. The problem is that for many publishers, serious consideration of this aspect of the business often happens AFTER the application is deployed. Software is only as good as the process that manages it. So think FIRST about how your order is going to flow through your organization and use that as the template to guide the configuration of the application.

Actively Engage Sales

The worst thing you can do in deploying a contract management application is to sign the contract, spend weeks on the implementation, then spring it on sales the week before it is supposed to launch. In order for the application to be effective, it has to have buy-in by both sales and operations. The business rules and workflow need to be signed off by all parties. Further, user acceptance trials are vital, so that the “shock” of a new process doesn’t end up debilitating the organization for weeks to come.

Document the Process

Make sure you have a lasting record of the business rules that will guide your organization in their use of a contract management application. Passing knowledge from generation to generation by word of mouth – that’s so Neolithic Era. Do yourself a favor and insure business continuity and efficient training by actually putting word on paper.

Assign a Project Manager

Here is the single most common reason why contract management deployments fail, and many times fail miserably: no “owner” of the project. Assign a project manager. The job qualifications for this project manager? Experienced in ad operations, worked with previous integration projects that are cross functional in nature, and possessing the bandwidth to make this project a personal, #1 priority.This is crucial. After all, you’ve just committed your organization to a significant budget, and a huge change in the way orders are processed. YOU need to own that. Vendors will sell you the car, give you a test drive, show you the manual, and then hand you the keys. Honestly, you’d better be ready to drive on your own.


Adopting the right strategy for your organization and choosing the right suppliers to fulfill that strategy are just two components in the equation for success. The missing ingredient is your ability to EXECUTE a successful deployment of the contract management application and all related workflow. Make sure you succeed by putting the proper planning and resources in place prior to launch.

Doug Wintz has been working in interactive businesses for 20 years, ranging from Prodigy, to AT&T, Softbank, Uproar and Lycos. In 2004, he started DMW MediaWorks, a consulting company focused on digital media, operations and technology. Recent clients have ranged from traditional media brands such as Turner Broadcasting, A&E, NY Times, MTV, Philadelphia Inquirer and Universal Music, to digital brands like Comscore, Jumpstart, Kosmix, Eons and Local Matters. Doug is a frequent contributor on topics related to ad operations for IMediaConnection, and teaches several seminars for AdMonsters.