The modern office is a kind of crazy quilt of software, procedures and habits. Everyone spends so much time trying to hone good organizational habits that it’s easy to overlook one immutable rule: people make mistakes – tons of them.
Take, for example, the simple contact list. When dealing with vendor or supplier emergencies, it’s always best to pick up the phone and talk to your main contact on the other end. Even if your company doesn’t formally draw up contact lists for every contract, there’s always “people who should know” and, heck, there’s always email. Problem solved, right?
In a vendor or supplier emergency, “people who should now” may not be in the office or even available. Even contact lists can easily become outdated over the course of six months or a year. Contact lists are kind of like contracts in a bad way: They too can be filed away and forgotten.
Then there’s what happens on the other end of the line. What if your contact at the vendor or supplier’s office is out/away/on vacation?
Database to the rescue
There’s a good reason a contract management solution such as Contract Assistant features a default “Contact Information” field. A well-managed database is the final word on information that tends to get scattered across an organization – like contact lists.
If you administer or manage a contract database, you may want to go a step further than ensuring primary contacts are recorded. Make the effort to include in your “Contract Information” field a short list of “emergency” contacts.
* If you know the vendor/supplier contact, ask them for at least two other contacts who have some authority to respond to any emergency or particularly urgent situation. Three would be even better.
* Your contact lists should also include internal staff that has similar authority to respond to emergencies. This is in addition to whomever you choose to include as the primary internal manager or person responsible for overseeing a particular vendor.
* And finally, don’t forget to include a short list of people who can substitute for yourself when you are out of the office or unavailable. After all, someone needs to access the database, and not every company offers open access to the contract database. One very easy way to deal with this is to ensure that when you create an auto response message for your email, include two others who can be reached for database access.
And finally, be sure to let any staff in charge of risk management or disaster planning know that this information is in the contract database. After all information is only effective if people where to find it.