Automating Contract Management

Businesses rely on contracts to manage most aspects of their organizations, from buy-side contracts to employment related contracts, and documents like non-disclosure agreements. Managing these important documents though, demands a modern solution that can help maximize profit and revenue through saving time and improving visibility.

Below are six ways that modern contract management solutions can help businesses become much more efficient when managing contracts.

 Searching for and Finding Contracts

One of the most time-consuming aspects of managing paper contracts manually is simply locating and sorting through the documents. Entreprenuer.com cites a statistic from the Journal of Contract Management that “71 percent of companies couldn’t find at least 10 percent of their contracts.” For Enterprise level companies, this can number in the hundreds or even thousands of contracts. Having to deal with paper contracts not only creates a great deal of tedium for those tasked with managing them, it also leads to situations where businesses may not be wholly aware of their financial obligations, and paying for overlapping services, or even violating contract terms that were forgotten about.

Storing contracts electronically in a centralized repository provides a simple, secure, and affordable solution for making sure that contracts are not lost, and allows them (and their contents) to be searched instantly.

 e-Signature

e-Signatures have been long accepted as an authoritative tool, carrying the same legal weight as a normal or “wet” signature. e-Signatures are becoming industry standard because in addition to having all the legal authority of traditional signatures, they are a huge time-saving tool, allowing an unlimited number of individuals to sign a document at any time of day and from virtually any location.

 Workflow

Good contract management software typically allows documents to be delegated into a workflow system that notifies individuals automatically when their action is needed. Workflows are key to optimizing performance, and making sure that individuals accomplish tasks when they need to perform them. Contract management software will notify parties when their input is needed for collaboration and approval, and e-Signature, ensuring that time is not wasted transitioning between tasks.

 

Edits, Redlining, and Revisions

Editing and revising a contract can also be one of the most time-consuming stages of the contract lifecycle. To address this, contract management solutions add automation to the process. Electronic solutions track changes made to a contract with an audit trail that cannot be altered, allowing users to see who made what changes and when. This helps users stay organized, and also keeps previous document versions automatically saved in chronological order and color-coded to show who made specific changes. All versions of a document are permanently stored, even after a document has been executed, ensuring access regardless of team changes and improving compliance.

 Templates

To avoid the difficulties that arise during the contract drafting process, many businesses rely on templates to speed the process along. Contract management software provides a repository where templates can be stored and used to draft new contracts in just a few seconds. With CLM, users can also begin drafting a new contract directly within the platform. Templates substantially enhance, transparency and oversight, and reduce errors in contracts and the time needed for drafting the contract.

 Communicating with Vendors and Clients

  • Sending follow-ups through an automated reminder system is a simple but powerful tool for ensuring that deadlines and opportunities are not missed. In times past, users relied on email to stay in contact with colleagues, vendors, and customers. Contract management software eliminates the need for emails and consolidates all communications into a single place. Additionally, it can permanently keep all your conversations in chronological order and saved with the document you’re discussing. Parties can also view discussions on executed documents from prior years should they need to provide context or prove intent in court.

Contract Compliance – A Vehicle to Better Contract Management 2018

Is it time for an audit? Contract compliance audits can be costly and time-consuming. These 5 considerations make them easier and will help you recover costs, improve processes, and ensure compliance faster.

When was the last time you performed an assessment of your contracts? An audit, as painful as they can be, is a necessary step in due diligence—helping you save money in the long run by reducing risk and improving processes and controls. And if you’re a pre-IPO company, an audit can help you achieve compliance that fuels greater scalability and accelerates growth, and position your company to generate higher returns when it does go public. What makes for a successful contract compliance audit? Here are 5 key things to consider before you begin.

Consider the scope

Are you reviewing the entirety of the contract? Are there particular areas with which you’re concerned? Who will be performing the audit—internal or hire external consultants?

Depending upon how you’re managing your contracts, or the capabilities of your contract management solution and how well your contracts are organized, an audit could be as easy as a quick search for contracts containing keywords, vendor names, terms, etc., or a file folder click. Say, for example, if you’re performing an audit due to Brexit regulations and changes, you would search for contracts using search terms like EU and UK. Not using a cloud-based contract management solution that makes an audit that easy? Consider hiring someone—it will cost you less in frustration and resources.

Consider the objectives

With so many benefits to an audit—recovering costs, improving processes, deterring fraudulent activity, and managing risk—what are you hoping to achieve? Identifying specific areas and defining clear objectives will help you focus your efforts and better organize your time and resources.

Consider timing

Audits should be initiated when you have strong leverage to change processes or recover payments. Releasing a new product? Changing regulations? IFRS 15 might require reconsideration of contract terms, clauses, pricing, etc., could be a good time for an audit. Think practically about when to begin an audit, and how long the audit will take to complete so you stay ahead of timelines, i.e. January 2018 for IFRS 15, or March 2019 for Brexit.

Consider collaboration

You’re likely not the only party in the contract. Use the audit as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship by framing it within the scope of collaboration. Present it as a chance to make sure that all parties involved are getting what is expected, and that processes are being fulfilled from both sides as was initially agreed.

To foster collaboration, leading contract management solutions have built in features like the ability to track changes; to edit, comment, and negotiate in-document and directly online; and version control with a robust audit trail. Intuitive features like these not only help ensure flawless compliance but they’ll speed up the overall audit process.

Consider the future

This is likely not the first, nor will it be the last audit you’ll perform. A very time-consuming and comprehensive task, possibly lasting months and requiring a lot of leg work to chase down contracts, the easiest way to perform an audit is by using a comprehensive cloud-based contract management solution.

Contract management solutions not only make performing a successful contract audit easier, they make implementing changes and enforcing them easier too, giving your organization faster processes, and the flawless compliance that accelerates growth.

Contracts Your Key to Successful Procurement

Your biggest, untapped asset will define your future, drive increased profits, and accelerate growth. But only if you’re managing it correctly.

What’s the key to business success? Ask 10 people and 10 different answers will likely emerge. However, this isn’t one of those polysemous, everyone-is-right type questions. There is only one right answer. And the world’s greatest business experts (Peter Drucker, Mark McCormack, and others) all answer the same—relationships.

On a personal level, you try the products recommended to you by trusted friends; you buy from the brands you know. From a business perspective, not much changes—you partner with reputable companies, you buy from vetted suppliers. Business and consumer alike, you vote with your wallet everyday.

In today’s business landscape, and with the speed and scale at which information moves, there are new expectations from both businesses and consumers, and those expectations have never been higher. Relationships have become paramount to your success—customers, partners, employees, the list goes on—making whom you trust and who trusts you now your biggest asset.

There’s one key overlooked area that’s crucial here—the underlying foundation for what makes these relationships possible; the physical manifestation of these all-important relationships—contracts.

Because a contract isn’t just a document or an agreement, it’s a relationship.

Contracts, social or otherwise, define expectations. When it comes to your business, contracts are the epicenter of revenue generation and creating a sense of security and trust. They’re the blueprint for your company’s future. Clear, efficient, effective contract management Software therefore has never been more critical. How will you keep up?

This brand new guide, The Essential Guide to Thriving in the Relationship Economy offers a clear understanding of how this economy came to be, why it matters to your business, and how you build and foster the relationships that create tremendous opportunities for increased profit and accelerated growth, using your biggest resource, your contracts.