Upside Software Remains on the Upside of the Contract Management Market

My recent article entitled “Why Should Enterprises Manage their Contracts Closely?” analyzed the importance of enterprise-wide contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions and stated that many enterprises still use inappropriate makeshift tools to manage their important contractual terms and conditions. The article concluded with the fact that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems handle transactional details of an organization whereas CLM systems handle contract and commitment management. In other words, there is room for both systems in an organization to work in tandem. 

CLM is a Lucrative Area, right? Well, Not for Everyone

Not surprisingly, the CLM arena is replete with a number of best-of-breed solution providers. But this crowded arena does not imply that CLM players have necessarily had easiest of times. Many of these startups have built decent CLM solutions, but have also spent inordinate amounts of venture capital (VC) in the process.

Thus, the mid-to-late 2000s have seen Determine Software been acquired by SelecticadiCarta by EmptorisNextance by VersataFrictionless Software by SAP, and Procuri (which had previously acquired Contract Management Systems Inc. [CMSI])by Ariba. For its part, Oracle has both its own CLM capabilities as part of its E-Business Suite (EBS) and via acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Primavera.

Upside Software: A CLM Leader (Under Its Own Steam)

Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)-based Upside Software certainly does not belong in the abovementioned group of acquired vendors. Founded in 2000 with no VC involvement, Upside is a profitable and growing company with about 160 employees, and an advanced, yet mature and comprehensive product suite. The company has extensive experience delivering real value to about 300 customers of every size and in most industry verticals globally. Upside’s products address the needs of the largest enterprises (e.g. Fortune 500, Global 2000), public sector (federal, state/provincial, municipal, and healthcare), and small to medium enterprise (SME) customers.

The flagship UpsideContract application, designed initially to interact seamlessly with existing systems and third-party vendor applications, continues to be enhanced with interoperability in mind (the vendor spends over 35 percent of its revenues on R&D). Upside continues to successfully grow because of its ability to win over organizations of all sizes and implement its product across all areas in the organization (i.e., legal, finance, buying, and selling departments).

On the technology platform front, Upside is a staunch Microsoft .NET Framework proponent. The company provides a truly native Microsoft Word integration as Microsoft is not only its marquee customer, but Upside is also a Gold Certified Partner of Microsoft. Some other prestigious customers include: Hewlett Packard (HP), JC Penney, Deere & Co., 3M, Northern Trust, Norfolk Southern, Hospital Corporation of America, United Health, BNSF Railway Company, Spectra Energy, Talisman Energy, and Vodacom.

The solution’s contract management process flow is easy to use, intuitive, and integrates relatively easily with other enterprise processes. All facets of the CLM process are included in the product, from contract creation, performance management, billing management, and online negotiation and collaboration. As for the latter, companies can develop requests for something (RFx) documents, such as a request for proposal (RFP)request for information (RFI)request for quotation (RFQ), etc., and then post them to the supplier community.

UpsideContract is flexible, with configurable wizards that users can tailor to their own requirements across the business. Thus, the solutions can be deployed in as little as a few days and typically provide a full return-on investment (ROI) in well under a year (and in most cases within six months). Not surprisingly, the vendor’s Web site is adorned by a plethora of awards and recognitions by industry magazines, trade associations, and government agencies.

At What Does UpsideContract Excel?

Granularity would be the key word in case of UpsideContract. In other words, while most of the competitors’ products can mainly track changes and provide analytics on the entire document level, UpsideContract is able to provide analyses at the clause, section, or paragraph level, e.g., to determine which clause has changed most in last few months.

Embedded Workshare’s DeltaView comparison engine helps tremendously in this regard of managing insurance, compliance, and performance not only at a contract level, but also at the supplier, partner and/or customer levels to offer a holistic view into a given stakeholder and all associated relationships. Some other requirements that UpsideContract is able to address at a clause and/or section level are as follows:

  • Workflows to establish authorized users

  • Adherence to compliance items vital to contracts

  • The ability to create model agreements (templates) and implement business rules to govern which templates, sections, and clauses must be used automatically when creating specific types of contracts

  • Associated metadata and business intelligence (BI)

Another distinctive feature is a built-in click-to-accept capability, which allows for fast electronic contract management, which is often used in online software license contracts (before the software downloads). On the down side, Upside had previously trailed competitors in terms of analytics and reporting capabilities, but the latest product releases feature extensive online analytical processing (OLAP) functionality. Mobility and social technologies are other likely frontiers for the future. For more information on the vendor, see Forrester analyst Patrick Connaughton’s blog post and one from Spend Matters' founder Jason Busch.

Customer Choice Helps, Too

Certainly, Ariba, Emptoris, iMANY, Hyland Software, Selectica, SAP, Oracle, Zycus, Symfact AG, Iasta, PROACTIS, and others also have competitive CLM offerings. But hardly any of them offer that much choice to their customers in terms of both functional footprint depth and breadth (from an entry-level to an all-encompassing enterprise CLM suite) and deployment (via on-premise perpetual software licenses and on-demand subscriptions). All of the product editions by Upside are on the same code, which allows for relatively easy migrations as necessary.

Most recently, in February 2011, Upside announced the release of UpsideLive LITE, a simple contracting system that is based on the company’s aforementioned flagship enterprise contract management system. The latest offering is a solution for companies with basic contract management requirements, that do not need to manage complex contracts or utilize the powerful template functionality of UpsideLive (which is the on-demand counterpart of UpsideContract). Upside has built what it believes to be a very easy-to-use application with only the key functionality that casual users need.

UpsideLive LITE offers various pricing options, including levels of usage and the number of licensed seats. If a company has one user who wants basic contract management functionality, it can expect to pay US$19.99 per month. For a company with 30 users, it would pay US$220 per month. Discounts are available for multiple users as well as longer-term commitments, and full details on pricing are available upon request.

UpsideLive LITE - Customizable

For the first time in Upside's history, the vendor is offering customers of UpsideContract the ability to purchase UpsideLive LITE's source code. , The code leverages the application programming interface (API) and Web Services in UpsideContract to offer users a new, and much simpler, user interface (UI) to perform key contract management activities. The source code, including the full application, is available to the customers with an enterprise-wide license for UpsideContract for an additional US$50,000.

This new offering allows organizations to take the “as is” UpsideLive LITE application and update it to their users’ preferences. As the application uses Upside’s standard API and Web Services to connect with UpsideContract, it makes modification and maintenance much easier. Support and maintenance for this offering is also available, and for those companies that subscribe to this service, they will get the free ongoing updates that Upside makes available for UpsideLive LITE.

Upside Software Top Management Speaks Out

What follows now is a quick and frank conversation with the company's executives.
PJ: Is the UpsideLive product part of any applications market place, i.e.,’s AppExchange, Microsoft’s Pinpoint, etc.? Are there any future plans in that regard?

Upside: We do have standard connectors to Sales Cloud 2 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM but are not part of AppExchange or Pinpoint as of yet (it’s in the near term plans though)

PJ: How does the offering stack up compared to your other on-premises and on-demand products? Is there a comparative matrix of the functionality and pricing for these product lines?

Upside: UpsideLive LITE was created to service those companies who do not have complex contracts and are searching for a simple yet effective solution for their contracting needs. We have scaled back our popular UpsideLive product and removed functionality that isn't essential for simple contracts.

UpsideLive LITE provides a simple contracting system where core contract data can be entered, appropriate Word, PDF or other files can be attached, and searching and reporting functionality can be utilized - all at a significantly reduced price. Please see here for more comparative details.

PJ: How do you compare this offering to what your competitors Ariba and Selectica are offering (or will offer soon) on AppExchange?

Upside: We also have the connectors to and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but we offer more flexibility in terms of being able to leverage the richer functionality (e.g. template management, clause analysis, BI, etc.) that isn’t currently available in these competitive offerings. As well, with this offering, clients can start in a software as a service (SaaS) mode and migrate to behind-the-firewall if they choose to and with a minimal cost/impact.

PJ: What about skittish companies not wanting to keep their sensitive contract data in a public cloud? Is there any change for the better of late?

Upside: It’s getting better and the ability to migrate quickly and painlessly to a behind-the-firewall mode is helping them sell internally. Thus, the “legal beagles” know that should they want it in-house, it can be done with a zero impact.

PJ: How is the CLM market doing in general, and Upside vs. the competition?

Upside: BUSY in capital letters is the best way to put it. We are projecting a growth of about 30 percent in revenues and at least doubling profits. We definitely seem to be winning more deals than the competition, but that is based on the deals we know about, so you never know…

PJ: With regard to your aforementioned differentiating capabilities (i.e., electronic signatures, paragraph-based terms & conditions, etc.), which product editions feature these (or these are pervasive in all Upside products)?

Upside: All of those features are in UpsideContract and UpsideLive. The UpsideLive LITE is a pared down offering and hence the ridiculously low price point. But, migrating to UpsideLive is a simple matter of a new license key and it’s even all on the same infrastructure, so again, the opportunity to move up and get more is made quite easy with this offering.

Dear readers, what are your views, comments, opinions, etc. about the current economic climate in your region/industry and about your approach to controlling spend via sourcing and contract management? What are your best sourcing and procurement practices as well as experiences with particular contract management applications? If you are an Upside Software user, I would appreciate you sharing your experiences with the product and the company.
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