invoices & contracts

Don’t get caught off guard by expired contracts 

by David Wishinsky September 19, 2019

Contracts are key to mitigate risk, secure discounts, and acquire services. Your procurement teams work hard to negotiate contracts that enforce the most beneficial terms for your company, and your AP team takes careful measures to ensure each invoice is paid on time. However, one section of the contract that’s often overlooked by finance teams is the expiration date. Surely your supplier will let you know when it’s time to renegotiate, and someone’s tracking it somewhere, right?

The truth is, in many organizations, the expiration date of a contract is often completely unknown. An expired contract can have serious ramifications to your business functions and could cost you a lot if you’re unaware of its pending arrival. Below are a few scenarios that can happen if you’re caught off guard by expired contracts.

Where are our contractors?

If you fall out of contract with your contractors, the first thing you might notice is that they simply don’t show up. This may not be a huge issue on temporary projects such as landscaping, but if you’re relying on them for long-term IT support, this could be a big issue: A few weeks of contract renegotiations can slow down your business significantly. Staying ahead of contract expirations allows you to renegotiate terms before they expire, to ensure there aren’t any gaps or delays in your projects. 

Hmm, this seems more expensive than usual

If your supplier contracts expire, they’re no longer obligated to honor the price you negotiated. They can suddenly begin to charge their market rate, which is likely substantially higher than the contracted rate. This would be an unwelcome surprise for any finance team, especially if it’s after you’ve already purchased the goods (and perhaps even used them as components within your product). After a contract is expired, you lose all your leverage to find an alternate supplier, and the cost of your goods can rise exponentially. Avoid this supply chain nightmare by knowing in advance if you need to renegotiate your prices.

I can’t afford my new subscription price, but can I afford not to have it? 

Contracts often include a clause that limits cost increases upon renewal, typically around 3-5% or cover the cost of inflation. However, if the contract expires, this clause will no longer be honored. Let’s say your business is using an ERP or CRM software on a six year contract. During that timeframe, the software company raised their annual fee from $400K to $3.5M. Unfortunately for your company, you didn’t renegotiate the contract before expiration, and you now have zero leverage to negotiate a better price. Even worse, the cost of switching may be equally high, so it doesn’t make sense to look for an alternative software. Your company has no choice but to pony up the money in order to keep your business functioning on all cylinders.

The above scenarios would be tricky for any business to avoid. With so many contracts with so many different suppliers, it can seem impossible to be aware of each upcoming expiration date. However, AppZen’s Contract Audit notifies you of all of your upcoming expirations (and coupled with AP Audit, you can also be confident that your contract terms are reflected on each invoice too). Thanks to AppZen, you’ll be notified with enough time required to make a decision on alternative suppliers, saving you costly mistakes, and keeping your business and supply chain running at 100% efficiency. 

David Wishinsky
Senior Product Marketing Manager

David Wishinsky received his MBA at the University of Colorado despite the fact that there is no oxygen that high above sea level.

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