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Managing Education Contracts Made Easy with Microsoft 365

This blog post explores how educational institutions can make the most of their familiar Microsoft 365 ecosystem to standardize their contract management process.

Education is one of the important pillars of any functioning society that shapes its foundation. According to a report published by Facts and Factors, the education sector in the United States is predicted to grow around $3.12 trillion by 2030. Education institutions face many challenges in managing contracts effectively, including siloed data and lack of visibility, slow turnaround time, renewals, and expiration.

What is education contract management?

Education contract management is a systematic process of overseeing and managing the educational contract lifecycle from negotiation to renewal and termination. To ensure the smooth operations and optimal use of resources in educational institutions, education contracts act as a legally binding agreement to fulfill contractual obligations. 

We have seen a rapid increase in the adoption of technology in the education sector and organizations are leveraging the capabilities of Microsoft 365 to streamline their contract management tasks and remain compliant with the regulatory requirements. 

However, most organizations struggle to get the most out of their Microsoft 365 investment because they lack knowledge on how to effectively handle the complexities of contract management when utilizing the Microsoft 365 suite.  

What if you can tailor your contract management strategy to meet your unique business needs and goals? 

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of education contract management, common challenges faced, and how to leverage and maximize value from your existing Microsoft 365 suite.

Managing Education Contracts Made Easy with Microsoft 365

Importance of Education Contract Management

Digital transformation has enabled educational institutions to embrace digital tools to create a more personalized and interactive learning experience. This digital shift has certainly impacted contract management by presenting them with both challenges and opportunities.

There has been a rise in the volume of contracts handled by these institutions. Digital tools require agreements for software licenses such as End-user license agreements (EULAs), Data Processing Agreements (DPAs), and Confidentiality Agreements (CDAs).

To cater to various needs and goals, education businesses handle different types of contracts. Enrollment contracts or agreements between the students and the institution, vendor, and supplier contracts, and employment contracts for staff and faculties are some of them.

Crafting and managing these contracts are important to maintain data privacy, and student information security in place to protect their data, and adhere to educational standards. This ultimately ensures a productive professional relationship is maintained between education businesses and their stakeholders.

Effective contract management helps mitigate the risks that are associated with the ever-evolving local, state, and federal regulations. Following the best practices in contract management ensures your business is not exposed to financial, operational, or legal risks.

Challenges in Managing Education Contracts

Contract management in the education sector can be difficult and complex, just like in any other industry. Some of the common challenges faced are:

Contract compliance: Following the complex and ever-evolving regulatory frameworks and state laws is a challenge. Failure to comply with data privacy laws in the US like FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) can result in reputational damage and legal consequences.  

Manual Processes: Manual Processes: Managing contracts manually is prone to human errors. Institutions rely on physical paperwork, spreadsheets, or email chains to track contract processes. This inconsistent contract format makes it challenging for contracting teams to monitor contract milestones.  

Security Concerns: Confidentiality of sensitive information, from personal data of the staff, students, and stakeholders to financial and legal records is a constant concern. Unauthorized access, cyber threats, or third-party vulnerabilities could result in a data breach.  

Communication Gaps: Departments working in silos are a challenge as it makes it impossible for other departments to collaborate. While proper communication is an active, ongoing process that is difficult to manage effectively, having a well-oiled contractual process is important for bridging communication gaps.

Microsoft 365 Contract Management for Education

Microsoft 365 is a powerful suite of productivity tools that many educational institutions already leverage to achieve greater collaboration and productivity. Here's how Microsoft 365 provides a comprehensive solution for the challenges we covered earlier:

Centralized Contract Management

Microsoft SharePoint provides a secure and centralized platform for storing all your education contracts. This eliminates the need to store it physically and reduces the risk of misplacing the document. The contracts cannot be accessed or edited by anybody other than authorized individuals.

Organizing and storing contracts can be done by logging into designated SharePoint sites enabling schools and universities to collaborate easily. Version control allows for smooth revision, and teams will be able to track the most recent version of a contract.

Automation and Workflow Management

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform and a part of the Microsoft 365 suite that securely combines instant messaging/chat, meetings, and file storage. MS Teams approval feature allows users to create, manage, and share approvals without leaving the platform.

It can trigger alerts and notifications within the teams when there are important updates to announce. With the help of MS Teams, schools, and colleges can automate processes like faculty agreements, course registration, and student enrolment with ease.

Compliance and Security

Educational businesses can take advantage of comprehensive compliance and security features of Microsoft 365 such as advanced threat analytics and identity protection. Microsoft 365 prioritizes safeguarding digital assets, preventing data aches, and ensuring compliance with education standards such as COPPA and FERPA.

Data loss prevention capabilities protect your organization's data integrity. DLP policies in M365 allow you to set policies to monitor data that is being shared in email, SharePoint, and OneDrive and help protect sensitive information.

BitLocker encryption from Microsoft ensures that your contract data is safe even if your device is lost or stolen. And on top of that, multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of protection.

Integration and Collaboration

Integrating Microsoft 365 applications like SharePoint and OneNote, and other Microsoft 365 apps within Teams significantly enhances the contract workflow. In an educational setting, it is important to have real-time communication and collaboration.

MS Teams is an invaluable tool that allows teams or departments to connect with each other via channels to clarify obligations, and expectations, and reduce the risk of disputes and errors.

To ensure everyone is on the same page and the objective of the contract is attained, M365 enables co-authoring where multiple users can simultaneously work on contract documents. They can add comments, get feedback, and track changes made to the document.

Customization and Scalability

Another key benefit of Microsoft 365 is that it is customizable, scalable, and cost-effective. The customization feature enables education businesses to tailor their contract management experience based on their needs.

They can solve multi-departmental workflow issues, streamline approval processes, and ensure consistency across all departments. The cloud-based solution streamlines the creation of common contract templates like vendor agreements, internal service agreements, and employment contracts.

As your business grows, you can scale your contract management processes by accommodating more users, and contracts and increasing the central storage.

Also read: Microsoft 365 for Secure Healthcare Contract Management

While Microsoft 365 provides a great suite of productivity tools, it can be challenging to track down activities and changes when switching between four or more different tools. Again, the features for searching contracts and automated reporting are limited.

So, how can you make the most of what Microsoft already has to offer in order to facilitate more sophisticated contract management and automation?

Introducing Dock 365, an all-in-one contract management system built with Microsoft 365.

Education Contract Management Made Easy with Dock 365

Dock 365 Contract Lifecycle Management System is an all-in-one solution with compelling benefits, features, and integration capabilities of Microsoft 365. Dock 365 CLM automates the contract lifecycle, from creation to renewal, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.

Educational institutions can increase their efficiency by bridging the gap between the contracting teams and other business processes thereby saving time and money. Contract visibility is an important aspect that enables navigating complex negotiations to secure the best contracts with suppliers. Dock 365 CLM makes negotiation easy by enabling real-time negotiation within the comfort of their browser.

Dock 365 CLM keeps your contracting team ahead of contract renewals with an automated reminder system and an intuitive dashboard to track expiration using a single screen. You can visualize all your raw contract data to get a high-level overview and drill down into specific contract details to make informed decisions.

Dock 365 CLM helps create standard reports by tracking historical data and analyzing trends in contract performance. These reports can be exported in various formats (PDF, Excel).

Dock 365 CLM uses generative AI to improve the contract review process by suggesting edits and making redlining educational agreements much easier. The generative AI features extract key information automatically, can compare clauses, and produce concise summaries of complex and lengthy contracts. Apart from AI, some of the standout features are custom templates, contract workflows, audit reports, and integrated e-signatures.

Also read: 4 Ways Contract Management Software Supports The Contract Process For Higher Education

Conclusion

With numerous contracts to manage, educational institutions invest a considerable amount of time and money to automate and optimize their contract processes. Colleges and school systems face unique contract management challenges, and Dock 365 CLM provides the capabilities they require. Learn how Dock 365 CLM helps you to access the functionalities within the familiar Microsoft 365 ecosystem and standardize your contract management process. Talk to one of our representatives today to see how Dock 365 can be customized to meet the specific needs within your institution. Schedule a demo.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not intended to be legal advice; rather, all information, content, and resources accessible through this site are for purely educational purposes. This page's content might not be up to date with legal or other information.
Author Profiles - Jithin Prem

Written by Jithin Prem

Jithin Prem is a seasoned digital marketer with a sharp eye for innovation and a love for using technology to propel organizations forward. Jithin has extensive knowledge of enterprise solutions, particularly contract management, in addition to his marketing expertise.
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Reviewed by Naveen K P

Naveen, a seasoned content reviewer with 9+ years in software technical writing, excels in evaluating content for accuracy and clarity. With expertise in SaaS, cybersecurity, AI, and cloud computing, he ensures adherence to brand standards while simplifying complex concepts.

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