Contract Management Software must have foundation features
We have previously spoken about the top ten reasons why your organization needs contract management software. From earning more income, reducing expenses, removing red tape, and monitoring contracts for future improvement, it is clear that contract management software can create value for your organization—regardless of its size or sector.
The days of tracking paper contracts are over. Instead of shuffling through folders of contracts to find the one that will answer a specific question, you can instead pull up your contract management software and search for the relevant contract, all within seconds. The experience is much more pleasant and you are able to allocate your time to other tasks on your plate.
Understanding the value proposition of contract management system, the next question naturally focuses on the specifics. Specifically, what features should you be searching for before you make your ultimate decision?
In all likelihood, you and your organization will need to determine if your software should include certain features to cater to your needs. However, there are certain fundamental features that should be included when you examine a particular contract management software system.
While this isn’t an exclusive list, below are some of those foundational features that you will want in your contract management software.
Comprehensive Analytics and Reports
One of the best aspects of contract management software is the ability to gain insights from all of your contracts. You are able to insert your key performance indicators (KPI) into the system so that you can receive automated reports of whether you are hitting those KPIs.
As one simple example, let’s say that one of your organization’s KPIs is limiting the amount of time from contract initiation to signature. You can easily track this KPI across your organization for a certain period of time, or you can go into more detail, tracking time from initiation to signature for a certain counterparty or a group of counterparties from the same sector. And once you set the KPIs that you would like to track, you can set up automated reports that deliver frequent updates on whether you are falling short, meeting, or exceeding your KPIs.
The sky truly is the limit.
This is the sort of functionality that you are searching for in a contract management software system. Before you sign on with a particular company, make sure that the software allows you to easily track the KPIs that matter most to you. Taking advantage of these capabilities will lead to increased revenue and decreased expenses.
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Customizable Workflows and Automatic Reminders
You want to search for contract management software where you can easily track the life of a contract. Specifically, we are talking about the ability to create customizable workflows to ensure that all steps are followed, from contract origination to signature. While nearly all contract management software systems allow you to do this, you will want to find a system that focuses on ease of use. You also want software that makes it easy to start new workflows and that automatically alerts relevant users on tasks they need to address. It’s easy for tasks to get lost in the shuffle, so customizable workflows ensure that you, your team, and your counterparty are addressing every formality leading up to the signing of the final contract.
Along with this, a great contract management software system contains automatic reminders leading up to contractual milestones. If a certain task has to be completed in your workflow and the relevant actor hasn’t yet completed the task, that actor can receive automatic follow-up emails. Also, if a contract is up for renewal, the contract management software can send a quick reminder to all of the relevant actors before the date of contract expiration.
If you decide to use contract management software, it is best to let the software do the heavy lifting. Luckily, a system that permits you to easily create customizable workflows and provides automatic reminders will solve many significant problems that emerge when negotiating a contract.
One of the most prominent benefits of a contract management software system is that you can easily access all of your organization’s contracts. Instead of shuffling through paper, contract management software allows you to find one particular contract after a few keystrokes.
Therefore, to retain one of the most prominent benefits of contract management software, you want to select a contract management software system that contains powerful search capabilities. What you are specifically looking for is the ability to complete global searches across the platform for contracts containing certain language, metadata for all contracts, and even internal comments to particular contracts. Even better is contract management software where you can tag contracts with specific keywords so that you can easily access similar contracts when needed.
The point here is that you want to be able to quickly and easily access contracts that you are searching for and contracts that you should be searching for. Contract management software containing robust global search capabilities will help you accomplish those goals.
Next, it is critical for your contract management software platform to incorporate eSignatures. Whether the software integrates DocuSign eSignatures or another electronic signature partner, Simply put, eSignature capability is critical because it allows you, your organization, and your counterparty to seamlessly execute contracts.
All too often, you are in a lengthy negotiation with another organization and are finally ready to put pen to paper. Everyone is relieved that negotiations have finally concluded, but there is one final step—obtaining the required signatures to close the deal. Surprisingly, this can be more difficult than expected, especially if some of the required signatories are in different locations.
Contract management software eliminates this problem by having all parties provide their eSignatures to the contract. Instead of printing, scanning, and emailing contracts between parties, everyone required to provide a signature can provide it through the contract management software system. Not only that, but you can easily monitor which signatures are still required and reach out to those parties as necessary.
Ultimately, eSignatures simply make life easier for everyone involved—you, your colleagues, and members of your partner organization.
With a paper-based contract system, you often find yourself searching for one or several contracts that you can use as a template for drafting another contract. This is a laborious process that takes time out of your busy day.
Because of this, you want to search for contract management software where you can create contractual templates that you can edit, depending on the counter-party and the goods or services exchanged. Instead of constantly going to your organization’s in-house counsel to discuss the same legal issues in a contract, you can address most issues when crafting your template. Also be on the lookout for contract management software where you can easily merge metadata (for instance, an organization’s name, address, phone number, and contract signatory) into a copy of the template.
The goal here is to eliminate as much double work as possible. Contract management software containing a customizable, robust template library will help you draft contracts in a shorter amount of time. Further, those contracts will contain critical template language that may omit if you are drafting a contract from scratch.
An Easy-to-Use Administrative System
Incorporating contract management software within your organization will, undoubtedly, lead to some growing pains.
One way to ease some of these momentary issues is to select contract management software that has an easy-to-use administrative system. Whether you or someone else is the administrator, you want contract management software that easily allows you to customize user behavior on the system. Specifically, you are searching for a robust administrative panel that the administrator can use to manage users and grant them certain permissions on the contract management platform. You also should be able to assign certain users certain roles and track when each user opens or modifies a particular contract.
This sort of tracking is simply unavailable in a paper-based contract management system. Ensuring that your contract management system contains the features will lead to fewer headaches, more productivity, and happier employees.
Do Your Homework
Making the decision to switch to a contract management software system is one thing. Actually finding a vendor and selecting the software is quite another.
It can be confusing and overwhelming.
That said, rest assured that searching for contract management software with the features described above will help you maximize the benefits of using such a system. Of course, you will want to search for features that incorporate specific needs for your organization. But the above list provides the basic foundational building blocks when searching for contract management software.
Along with this, we would be happy to assist you should you have any questions about recommended features in contract management software. Feel free to contact us at the ContraxAware contact page or call us at 800-460-9052.
To find find out general information about contract management you can also visit: www.ncahg.org