Bad contract management costs companies in many different ways, and it exposes them to unnecessary risks. This is why contract management is essential to the long-term success of your business. Fortunately, there are many contract management systems on the market to choose from. The challenge is finding the right one for your business’ needs. Here are four things you should be looking for when picking a contract management solution.
Ease of Use
Many firms are reluctant to adopt a contract management system because of the time, money, and effort involved. When picking an option, you aren’t just spending money on a software application and its support, you also have to train people how to use it. This is why ease of use is one of the top factors to consider when researching contract management systems.
Before you start shopping for contract management software, it is important that you understand what contract lifecycle management is and how important it is. It isn’t enough to have a decent data repository. You need a system that manages contracts from initial negotiation to completion. This ensures that salespeople present contracts from approved templates, have any changes to the standard contract approved, and save the final version in an accessible database.
The ideal contract management system ties into your task management system and email servers. This allows your legal department to know what contracts need to be reviewed as soon as possible and how much work is in their queue. Salespeople can also look up the state of the contract, and the system may send a final version of the contract to the customer for approval or just their own records. The best contract management systems notify management when contracts are up for renewal or may no longer be legally valid.
The ideal contract management system is customisable, allowing you to integrate it with your finance, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource planning system. Then your customer support staff can view a customer contract when someone calls in with a complaint, and approved contracts automatically feed into your financial planning systems.
Collaboration and Sharing Capabilities
A good contract management system should allow you to create, assign, manage, collaborate, and execute in minutes instead of days. For example, a good tool would allow a salesperson to upload a draft contract to the repository and have it available for legal review within moments. Team members should be able to share relevant documents and discuss them in real-time, and approval should arrive within minutes of legal signing it off.
You should also make sure that the contract management tool you choose has risk management capabilities. For example, the tool may notify you when contracts expire so that you don’t continue to work without a valid legal agreement in place. Or it may warn you when there are risks associated with various contracts. Not all contract management systems have legal analytics built-in but knowing when contracts are now null and void due to changes in the law allows you to work on mitigating that risk or renegotiating the contracts.
Email and spreadsheets aren’t good enough for managing your contracts. Choose a contract management system that streamlines your administrative processes, manages risk, and provides the legal protection you expect from your contractual agreements.