Contracts Initiative Announces Process Improvements

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The Contracts Administration Initiative team is pleased to announce new processes for the approval of contracts that will take effect on Wednesday, April 15.

Early in the diagnostic phase of the Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C), contract administration was identified as a campus-wide pain point and our initiative team was launched last August to explore the issue. The goal of the initiative was to relieve the bottlenecks and confusion currently created by SMU’s contracting process and to reduce risk to the University.

After extensive research that included campus interviews and focus groups, calls to peer institutions and a thorough review of contract data from the past two years, the Contract Administration Initiative sent a recommendation to the Executive Committee for a new University contracts process. Our recommendation was approved in March and we are pleased to announce that we have been working diligently to prepare the following changes for implementation.

Beginning April 15, all contracts will no longer be sent to the Office of Legal Affairs, but instead go directly to a Contract Lead in your school or area who was appointed by your dean or vice president. The Contract Leads will direct the contract as needed to ensure it meets your required business needs and SMU’s legal and risk requirements. The Contract Lead for your area can be found here.

All Contract Leads are required to have training and maintain certification. In the past two weeks, Contract Leads have been through the first step in training on SMU’s new process and will be prepared to begin their new role as contract lead on April 15. They will work directly with Melanie Bailey, who has been identified as Senior Contract Administrator and is responsible for ensuring this process runs smoothly. Melanie now reports directly to Chris Regis, Vice President for Business and Finance, and will work closely with the Office of Legal Affairs to ensure continued compliance with University policy.

We will continue to use the same signature authorities on campus that were designated prior to our effort.

This summer, SMU will implement Selectica, a software package our committee identified for tracking contracts. Selectica will be utilized to assist in all aspects of the contract process and will allow any initiator to identify where their contract is in the approval process.  It will also have a library of SMU templates to assist Contract Leads in drafting contracts and agreements. Finally, it will have docu-sign capabilities, providing the ability to electronically sign contracts while eliminating paperwork and the time needed to move paperwork from office to office.

We are confident that these changes will ultimately mean a more streamlined process for contract administration at SMU. On behalf of the entire initiative team, we appreciate your help with implementation and hope that if you have questions or suggestions you will share them with us via the comment form on the OE2C website.

Sincerely,

David Chard
Dean, Simmons School of Education
& Human Development
Contracts Administration Executive Sponsors

Tom Tunks
Professor Music