Every day a potential contract sits in somebody\u2019s inbox\nwaiting for approval, is a day your form isn\u2019t making money on the deal. Each day\nalso gives your potential customer more time to question their decision to\ntrust you.\n\n\n\nToo often, the contract approval process is cumbersome, and\nfunctions as a bottleneck for the sales team. Salespeople are anxious to close\ndeals to earn commissions, and management needs the sales team to be able to\nmove on to other prospects as quickly as possible. \n\n\n\nContract management software can help streamline your current contract approval process. \n\n\n\nDiagram Current\nProcess\n\n\n\nThe first step towards creating a more efficient contract\napproval process is to understand how your current process works. You might\nthink you already understand your current process. However, chances are there\nare many informal steps that aren\u2019t listed in your set of standard operating\nprocedures. \n\n\n\nYou need to diagram your current process. Ask every person\nin the process what they understand the approval process to be\u2014document both\nthe formal and informal steps. \n\n\n\nFor example, one typical informal step in a contract\napproval process is when a salesperson contacts the assistant for an executive\nwith signoff authority to check on the status of the contract. \n\n\n\nYou can\u2019t improve the process until you fully understand what is happening today. \n\n\n\nAsk Why for Each Step\n\n\n\nOnce you know what each step in the process is, you need to\nask for the reason behind each step. Sometimes the reason might be that things\nhave always been done this way. Some steps might be to satisfy the legal\ndepartment, and other steps might be because individual executives want to be\nkept in the loop.\n\n\n\nOnce you start asking about the \u201cwhy\u201d for each step, you will start seeing steps that you can eliminate. \n\n\n\nLimit Approvals to One\nPerson Per Department\n\n\n\nNext, it\u2019s time to start making some changes. Start with\neliminating duplicative steps. There never needs to be more than one person in\na department signing off on a contract. Often the reason multiple levels of\npeople feel like they need to sign off on a contract is because of a lack of an\nofficial communication and documentation system for contracts.\n\n\n\nContract management software will allow you to create an\naudit trail that managers can quickly check. Instead of having a document in a\nphysical inbox, you can use the software to digitally \u201ccheck-out\u201d the contract.\nAnyone will be able to use the software to check the status of the contract. \n\n\n\nCreate Written\nProcedures Covering Each Step \n\n\n\nWhile you are creating a new, streamlined contract sign-off procedure, you need to meticulously document each step. Informal processes generate more opportunities for mistakes. They also result in wasted time and energy. By creating a new formal set of written procedures, you can eliminate the waste of informal procedures. \n\n\n\nThe new standard operating procedures for contract approval\nshould be distributed to everyone involved in the process. \n\n\n\nUse Automated Alerts\nand Document Tracking\n\n\n\nMoving physical paper around is dangerous. If you use\ncontract management software to manage the contract approval process, there is\nno physical paper to get lost. It also allows you to take advantage of digital document\ntracking and automated alerts.\n\n\n\nExecutives will receive an automatic alert when a contract\nis ready for review. Sales and operations will get an alert when the deal has\nbeen approved.\n\n\n\nThese alerts and tracking features eliminate the back and forth that often goes on while everyone is waiting for the contract to get approved. \n\n\n\nYou can\u2019t afford to use an inefficient contract approval\nprocess. When you streamline this process, you will improve your cash flow, and\nyou will create a better first impression for your new clients.