An Alberta company is partially crediting something it calls “Enron syndrome” for helping it nab its biggest contract to date.

Edmonton-based Upside Software Inc. and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard Ltd. announced a recent agreement for a worldwide acquisition of Upside’s enterprise contract management solution software UpsideContract for HP’s internal use.

UpsideContract streamlines the contract management process, beginning with the issuing of RFP, contract creation, negotiation and through to on-going monitoring and performance tracking.

Ashif Mawji, Upside Software’s CEO, said he has seen his customers grow more frantic about acquiring this kind of software since the birth of the Enron controversy. And, while he will credit his software’s full coverage of the issues related to contract management and lack of plug-ins or outlets with attracting the customers, he believes this “Enron syndrome” is what brought them in all at once.

“We are finding in the last month or two that we are getting companies that are just frantically looking for software that will help them with contract compliance management, revenue recognition, and what they are finding is that the management of contracts is manual,” he said. “They want software that will automatically track it. CIOs are putting pressure on their IT departments to find software to meet the needs.”

While Michael O’Neil, IDC Canada’s country manager, doesn’t dispute the rising demand for this kind of product, he said it’s likely that the company is using the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) marketing tool when they talk about Enron.

“I can see why they would want to associate themselves with Enron to put the appropriate FUD spin on their marketing,” he said. “The more FUD you can put in the customers’ mind, the more you can get them to buy. I doubt there is such a thing as the Enron factor, but I do think content management is getting way more important with time.”

O’Neill isn’t the only one who thinks it’s going to be a big deal. According to Goldman Sachs, the market for contract management software sales will hit US$3.1 billion by 2005.

“We ask why the sudden need and clients say that with Enron in the limelight, every company wants to be proactive,” Mawji said. “This is the next wave, but it is not like the CRM wave. We tie into the CRMs.”

UpsideContract runs on the Microsoft platform and integrates to company enterprise resource planning and CRM systems to allow for cross-organizational leveraging.

Upside Software Inc. in Edmonton is at

HP in Palo Alto, Calif. is at

IDC Canada in Toronto is at

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