There’s no doubt that managing contracts takes time and effort. Professionals review contracts with a keen eye for the details, employing excellent reading skills, deep comprehension, business acumen and time management skills, but new advancements in contract lifecycle management can make life easier. As we start 2020, here’s a short list of tips to help with smarter contract management.
Tip 1: Implement a contract intake process with contract management software
This tip primarily focuses on streamlining your contract review process by collecting data in an organised fashion. Businesses receive contract requests in many formats. These formats include emails, paper requests, ticket systems, and sales and procurement systems.
A good tip for getting organised is to create a contract intake process. Generate a spreadsheet to collect data fields about the contract you need to review. An efficient contract intake process will help you with the tracking of due dates, the status of the contract review, and counterparty names.
If your team has a contract software system, create a contract intake form with input fields. Ask your employees to key in the required contract data fields, upload the file, and have the contract request submitted to you in an organised manner. If you have smarter contract management software such as Contract Insight, then you already have a Contract Request form process built in.
Contract Request is like a legal form that is web-based and streamlines how your user requests contract review. All you have to do is enable the users in the system and share the link for them to request a new contract review.
Tip 2: Work in queues and lists – a useful contract management software feature
Many employees work sporadically throughout the day, jumping from task to task. Consider batch processing – used in many business environments, from the assembly line to modern accounting settings, it involves queuing up several related items that need attention. For example, a legal professional may have to read emails, read contracts, review contracts, draft contracts, research law and attend meetings throughout one working day. Working on one of these items, then moving on to the next doesn’t create any rhythm.
To help improve contract management in 2020, try to arrange your organisation’s work into queues or batches as a productivity tool. If you have Contract Insight software, implement a dashboard. A dashboard enables you to create a report of open contract requests (see Tip 1) listed by status. Then you pin the report on your dashboard and when you log on you’ll see the open Contract Requests in a list (or queue). With dashboards, users can easily view records for requests, legal reviews, and key dates. This will help with smarter contract management as the year unfolds.
Tip 3: Use Contract Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Auto Extract Engine
Frequently, when a new contract document is entered into a system, the user must manually re-key many data fields, such as counterparty name, description, dates, clauses, governing law, limitation of liability, warranty etc. To help automate the contract entry process, leverage VISDOM® Artificial Intelligence with Contract Insight. VISDOM helps users locate key terms and phrases within a contract document and auto-extract terms, and place the data into the entry fields on the contract data entry screen.
Tip 4: Draft contracts using contract templates
It’s quick and easy (and foolproof!) to automate your method of drafting agreements using contract templates. With Contract Insight®, there’s a feature which automates the contract drafting process. You simply take your word contract templates, set the placeholder fields on the documents and upload the document. You can merge the contract data fields into the contract template document and route the contract for approval and electronic signature. For advanced contract authoring, leverage Contract Insight’s clause merging functionality to draft and create complex contract documents based on region, the jurisdiction of law, products, and entities (to name a few).
Tip 5: Use tasks and reminders embedded in contract management software
Work days are busy and the occasional reminder can be a big help. Using a tool such as Outlook or an email tool that has tasks and calendaring, set a task or a calendar reminder. Contract Insight’s comprehensive task alerts and reminders regarding contract expiration dates, annual contract review dates, and early warning dates help your team keep up to date.
Contract tasks and workflows are simple. Workflows track contract records, look for values and automatically alert users for contract review, expiry notices and more. As a bonus feature, Contract Insight will e-mail your team members task alerts, set calendar alerts with your email provider and send early reminders.
Tip 6. Smarter contract management supports data integration
Resources are under strain, so the more time you and your team spend keying in data, the less time you have to focus on the strategy-driven review of the contracts. So why not enable data integration, which is easy with Contract Insight.
Using Contract Insight® enterprise, your organisation can enable supplier/vendor registration. This feature allows your contacts to key in their company name, contact name, street address, city, state/province, country, postal code, contact email, phone number, tax ID number and other data fields. This streamlined data integration process can save you thousands of keystrokes per year.
You can also:
- enable a watcher field to prevent supplier duplication
- integrate Contract Insight with your favourite CRM (customer relationship management) system
- enable your customers to register into the customer portal and route the new customer entry to the sales department to process the new customer request.
Contract Insight from Four Business Solutions
Contract Insight can help you manage an entire contract portfolio with intelligent workflow, automated alerts, AI-based contract management, data extraction, audit trails, contract reporting and analytics.
Four helps small and multi-national organisations enrich the way they work. From supply chain to procurement and contract management, we have decades of experience helping companies forge ahead in the global market. If you’d like a demo of Contract Insight or simply to find out more about what we do, please call John O’Brien at Four Business Solutions on 0800 6250 025.
John O’Brien is the CEO at Four Business Solutions, global business consultants and software integrators providing business processes improvements in Finance, Supply Chain and Operations, across a broad range of industries.