These days we could all use reminders. Whether it’s an automatic message from scheduling software that pops up five minutes before a meeting or just a friendly email reminding us of an upcoming webinar, reminders help get us through our daily blizzard of tasks.
Contact Assistant’s alert feature (and the ease of setting alerts) is one big reason users like it so much. In the Standard and PRO editions, users can set as many alarms as they wish; in the Enterprise edition, users can set unlimited alarms as well and tie them to email notification.
Viewable from any main screen (which displays an index of “ringing” alarms), these user-defined alerts can be put to many uses.
Here are some of the top uses, and a few tips:
End of contract warning
This is the most popular use for alert settings, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Before contracts are up, there needs to be a review period to assess the vendor’s services and record.
Tip: 60-90 days out is not unusual, but if the contract hasn’t been reviewed for a year, lean to the 90-day or later period for an alert.
Auto-renewal start dates
We’ve mentioned the problem with so-called “evergreen” clauses in contracts before. These are clauses that often state that for a fixed period before a contract end-date (say 30 days), if there is no renegotiation or action taken by the client, the contract is automatically renewed. The point is: alarms need to be set well ahead of the start of the auto-renewal period.
Review-by date setting
As a default, users can set an alarm for a “review-by” date as well as “expiration” date. “Review by” is meant to be used for interim reviews. Different departments may be on different schedules to review key financials or key deliverable information from vendors. An accounts payable department may do monthly summaries of activity; another unit may only comment or look at deliverables from a service vendor once a quarter. Think of setting “review-by” dates as a heads-up on when you or your department wants to complete an interim review. Best-practice is to schedule at least one interim review for each contract.
Tip: Don’t mistakenly use “Review by” in place of an “Expiration” date alert. You want to make sure you’ve reviewed a contract at least half way through its contract time period – which could conceivably mean setting a “Review by” date as early as just one-third of the way through a contract.
And finally a couple more helpful hints: don’t just set the alarm field with a date, remember to check the clickable box to actually set an alarm. Another tip: Don’t forget to turn off alarms. Failing to do so can lead to an index with old and useless alarms. Before long, you may encounter “alarm blindness” unless you regularly delete old alarms.