Buzzwords and catchphrases are as frequent as family board games with the words "word" and "phrase". One of the big ones I hear is about "aligning IT with business". Only in this game, nobody gives you a cheat sheet, instruction manual, or colorful game piece.

When industry writers talk about aligning IT with business, they do it in such a way that they've given you the secret code and now your life is simplified. (Just say "this will really align our IT goals with the business needs" and suddenly you can get your company to go along with anything you want. Right.) Anyway, this article is about one product that does seem to accomplish the pie-in-the-sky endeavor of aligning what "you" do with what "they" do.

Contract Management Headaches
First, a little anecdote about contracts, because that's what we're talking about. Dealing with contracts is one big migraine, or one of those awful sinus headaches at best. No matter who you are, what end you're on, they're a true pain. For starters, they're seldom written in layman's terms (or even English), so you need a $300/hr lawyer to hold your hand and walk you through it (while his/her other hand thumbs through your wallet). Things rarely go smoothly, both parties are rarely happy, and most contracts change hands many times with minor revisions that don't always make sense and usually have a dozen unintended (or intended) consequences that, again, only the lawyers understand.

As time goes by, companies and individuals build up massive archives of contracts they don't understand all that well that are supposed to keep them out of the even more confusing U.S. legal system. Typically there are only signed hard copies, which are subject to being lost, destroyed, stolen, or eaten by the office dog. According to Faulkner Information Services, about 10 percent of all executed contracts are lost.

Dolphin Contract Manager for SharePoint
If your organization has a lot of contracts, it's definitely worth investing in some type of contract management software. A new product from Dolphin Software called Dolphin Contract Manager for SharePoint offers one such solution. With the Dolphin product, you'll be able to store all contracts through the folder structure in SharePoint, utilize all of the standard document change tracking capabilities, plus grab additional features in terms of deadline tracking (making sure you stay on deadline per the contracts), compliance monitoring, generating reports, and so forth. The contracts will be so easy to find, you'll feel like you have echolocation. Get it? Corny, I know. Couldn't resist.

Seriously though, contract management is a good idea. And if you already have SharePoint, it's a great way to go. From what I can tell, the Dolphin solution makes the whole thing that much better. So check out www.dolphin-software.com and see if it's for you. If nothing else, you'll show that you know how to "align IT with business". Oh, and remember: creativity is gold, but execution is all that matters; the people are the business, but they're the first thing to get cut; and of course, haste makes waste, but the early bird gets the meal. How are you supposed to align IT with business when business doesn't even understand business?

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