Contract Automation for Higher Education

Contract Automation for Higher Education - Should we embrace it or sideline it?

As colleges and universities deal with the reality of growing numbers of online classes and smaller campuses, contract management efficiency for higher education is critical. How should we embrace contract automation in higher education?

The current contract management processes in the higher education industry are riddled with repetitive manual tasks, resulting in delays and errors, leading to compliance and opportunity costs. Over the past decade, the volume and complexity of contracts in the higher education sector have increased dramatically, making it difficult to track and manage the contracts effectively. The problem compounds as due dates come and go, with the risk of penalties and fines for late payments, that may ultimately cause a cascading effect to create a less than ideal experience for your students leading them to opt for other institutions.

How can Higher Education Organizations reduce the gaps in the current contracting processes in order to better manage relationships with suppliers, vendors, partners, and students? How can the education sector optimize procurement efficiency, enhance visibility, and improve regulatory compliance? All these questions have one simple answer – a robust AI-powered contract management solution.

This eBook explains how an intelligent contract management system can instantly identify attributes across a variety of contracts—reducing processes that previously took a couple of hours at least, if not days, to down to just minutes.




Johns Hopkins University Unified Contract Management with Sourcing on ServiceNow

About Company

Johns Hopkins University (JHU), America’s first research university founded in 1876 and ranked #12 in World University Rankings 2021, is home to nine world-class academic divisions working together.

The strategic sourcing team at JHU collaborates with 3000+ vendors using integrated systems for contract management. The contract administration team manages 5000-6000 active product and services contracts for the Lab research, IT, Admin/facilities, and other categories.

The JHU uses SAP for managing vendors, product catalogs, and a shopping cart for products and services procurement. Recently, they have launched the Procurement Service Portal built on ServiceNow to offer a single integrated point of contact to the Procurement team. The portal supports inquiries and requests only regarding SAP shopping carts, SAP purchase orders, PO-related invoices, or general inquiries. All matters regarding contracts, sourcing, travel, P-Card, non-PO invoices, etc were handled through traditional channels. JHU wanted to incorporate these matters into ServiceNow.

Contract Management Challenges

Typically, it was taking multiple emails back and forth between procurement, contract management, risk assessment, and all other stakeholders regarding contract requests, reviews, approvals, and signatures that slowed down contract turnaround time. As a result, many ad hoc purchase requisitions happened with no vendor contract in place.

Additionally, all contract requests and approvals were tracked manually or in spreadsheets and ad-hoc tools. Thus, JHU had no real-time visibility on the status of contracts.


"With 5000-6000+ active contracts, it was easy to lose track of contract status, and frustrating for procurement teams, who were raring to go ahead with the agreement. JHU needed an easy to use solution that can centralize contract management and integrates well with existing systems and procurement services portal on ServiceNow.

Aavenir met all our requirements and AI capabilities were true blessings. Moreover, automated reminders and notifications during each stage greatly reduces the contract turnaround time.”

-Matthew Persic
Director of Procurement Operations
at Johns Hopkins University


The Solution: Aavenir Contract Lifecycle Management for Education

Matthew, a ServiceNow champion at JHU, discovered Aavenir, a certified CLM solution built natively on ServiceNow. Aavenir’s clear domain expertise and solution features are nicely aligned with JHU’s overall source-to-pay strategy. Hence, despite covid situation causing delays in budget allocation, JHU implemented Contractflow on their existing ServiceNow, and here is what they achieved:

Centralized contract processing on ServiceNow

Using Contractflow, JHU can handle 30+ different types of contracts (e.g. Master Agreements, NDAs, supplier contracts, research contracts, IT MSA, etc.). Within a few days, they could set up a clause library and 20-50 contract templates to enable self-service contracting on ServiceNow.

Artificial intelligence for 3rd party contracts 

JHU was pretty excited about the AI capabilities of Contractflow to automatically capture useful metadata from 3rd party contracts. The smart suggestion feature enhances self-service contracting and ensures that contract language complies with university policies and procedures, as well as applicable federal and state laws.

Frictionless contract approval workflow

Aavenir’s easy-to-use workflow interface enhanced collaboration between internal stakeholders and vendors while creating, reviewing, negotiating, and signing contracts. A rule-based customizable workflow orchestration and Microsoft-word-based redlining helped JHU to minimize time spent in emails and managing contract versions.

Contract Analytics

Using dashboards and reports, JHU can track deliverables, monitor KPIs of contract processes, identify contracts in approval or sent for signing. It takes seconds to access contract information using the google-like search or filter contracts by type.

Key Results

JHU and Aavenir teams went through a series of sessions for successful implementation and adoption. And, it wasn’t long before they saw the benefits of using Aavenir Contractflow.

Unified source-to-contract experience: Extended ServiceNow capabilities to centralize sourcing requests and contract lifecycle. This also increased ROI by leveraging existing subject matter experts, IT support, security, and other KPI’s from a ServiceNow perspective.

Better control of purchasing processes: JHU is expecting significant reduction, possibly eliminating hundreds of rogue purchases per year, ensuring contracts are in place, reducing exposure to risks, and providing better negotiating power.

Faster Contract Turnaround: Before Aavenir it would take weeks to internally review and negotiate contracts before both parties become comfortable to sign. With Aavenir, it has been reduced to under 10 days with fewer emails back and forth.