The commencement of any new business relationship begins with a contract, which details the expectations of both parties. Whether it is a human resource contract, vendor, sales or non-disclosure agreement, contracts are vital to safeguarding your organization’s financial interest, effectively helping to maintain a level of ongoing profitability. However, the contract management lifecycle, from request to execution to renewal, can be a time-consuming and costly process fraught with the potential for serious errors. That is why it is imperative to implement a contract management solution that minimizes risk while keeping business moving as quickly as possible; knowing where everything is and what has been done throughout the process.
Accelerate and Gain Control of the Contract Lifecycle
During contract negotiations, there is a tremendous amount of back-and-forth from different parties which may result in costly legal fees. Contracts can get stalled during negotiations for a variety of reasons which results in time loss. However, you can gain control of this process and minimize delays by utilizing contract management software. By automating the contract management lifecycle, a contract is captured and stored, eliminating the need for lengthy email chains or PDF and Word Files. Edits to the contract are made in real-time, allowing everyone involved in the contract lifecycle to have access to the latest version, making collaboration easier and faster regardless of time or distance. This is especially helpful if you are dealing with clients, vendors or legal teams in different time zones around the globe.
Tracking comments, dates, and notes anytime during and after the contract lifecycle, as well as being able to route the contract for review, approval, and execution, including getting a digital signature, are great time-saving tools. Automated contract renewals and expiration reminders also aid in increasing productivity and profitability for your organization. Additionally, integrating this solution with your financial systems gives the ability to know where the project sits regarding budget in the event change orders become a part of the process.
A Flexible Solution to Fit Your Needs
As you have probably experienced, there are a lot of moving parts during the contract lifecycle which can become overwhelming if you do not have the proper tools to manage it successfully it. The contract management process officially begins when you submit a contract request which is typically in e-form, allowing for multiple data fields that will specifically pertain to the request. Key information such as if this is a new or existing vendor, as well as what type of contract this is referring to are included in these fields. Once the information is submitted, the contract will exist in a database that can be stored in the cloud or on-premise, which can be accessed via email and mobile devices—allowing for greater flexibility for your organization.
As you move into drafting the contract, you will have the ability to attach critical supporting documents. There are a multitude of tasks that can help you to perform this transaction easily. For example, if you want to add different clauses to the contract, you will be able to select from a clause library and insert those clauses into the contract automatically. These tasks also allow you to generate contracts, as well as communicate with other departments such as outsourcing, legal, and finance. Ultimately, this moves the process from a document-centric focus to more of a data transaction focus since the data determines the next step in a process and, in many cases, determines the action of the users. Ultimately, the users will have access to the original contract request e-form submission, the multiple revisions of the contracts, and the tasks users can execute at that point and the complete audit trail of the contract request and the contract document versioning.
Ensuring Compliance and Providing Audit Trails
Another benefit to automating your contract management is the ability to ensure compliance even years after a contract has been signed. Having audit trails of all interactions between involved parties is essential to making sure the agreement is being properly adhered to. If your business unit is ever audited, you can easily give auditors access to the system with a specific set of view-only rights, enabling them to do their own research. Whether you permit auditors to access only a particular set of records or records in their completeness, you will be able to restrict not just the information you allow access to but also what actions they can take with the files they are viewing. This process provides much-needed safeguards for your business.
Interested in learning how you can effectively control and optimize the contract management process at your organization? Contact us today, and we’ll show you how.