1. Secure contract repository system

The problem with manually storing contracts

Many leading organisations use digital contract and document storage tools for efficiency and productivity.  However, many still rely on insufficient, manual approaches involving filing cabinets for paper documentation, emails and disorganised digital storage.  These methods make it almost impossible to keep contracts secure, maintain version control, adhere to key dates, stay on top of milestones or enforce contract archiving and retention rules.

Storing contracts may seem like a simple task but without a secure contract repository, organisations are missing out on the key player in contract management tools supporting their ability to reduce risk, keep control of their contracts and  improve contract performance.

The solution: A contract repository system

A central contract repository enables organisations to store contracts while reaping their highest ROI.  A web-enabled contract database is a place for contracts and relevant data to be securely stored.  It allows contract management professionals to organise contracts, oversee permissions, employ document version control, search for existing contracts, track contract status and collaborate. It’s one of the most centralised and versatile contract management tools.

Contract storage isn’t merely about where an organisation saves its documents; it’s an opportunity for organisations to make contracts and data work for them – leading to more productivity, increased revenue and savings, reduced risk and success in meeting contract management KPIs.

Throughout the contract lifecycle, an abundance of sensitive information is tracked and stored within a contract management software system.  With personally identifiable information (PII), payment card information (PCI) and other sensitive data, contract managers must be able to place access restrictions on specific pieces of key data.  For instance, software end-users may not have any need to engage with contracts other than those they’ve drafted themselves.  With a user permissions standard in place, organisations can prevent security issues and instances of sensitive data entering the hands of unauthorised personnel.

Additionally, the manual storage of contracts hinders the success of organisations by:

  • limiting access
  • leaving documents and their supporting files disconnected
  • lacking visibility and transparency
  • no support for the proactive tracking and management of contract approvals, status, renewal dates, automated renewal clauses, and milestones.

Conversely, an online document repository is among the best contract management tools, as it helps organisations by:

  • optimising and making safe the location, protection, organisation, search and sharing of contracts
  • centralising control
  • improving accountability
  • increasing productivity
  • simplifying contract management
  • storing virtually unlimited contract data and contract documents.

Arm yourself with the central repository system your organisation needs to succeed in 2024 with a leading set of contract management tools.

 2. Efficient contract workflow

The problem with manual workflow

Manual contract workflow management is an outdated practice requiring contract managers to personally oversee every contract lifecycle stage.  Any delay from anyone involved brings the flow of a contract lifecycle to a screeching halt.  Contract managers of 2024 should leave this practice behind and adopt a more efficient one with leading contract management tools.

The solution: Automated contract workflow

Software that provides contract workflow automation reduces contract lifecycle delays by engaging the right people at the right time with virtually unlimited contract notifications, automated alerts and workflow task reminders.  Intelligent workflow allows contract managers to leverage user-defined fields, contract process management, reporting and analytics, audit trails and more helpful contract management tools.

Contract collaboration, negotiation and approvals can be managed with workflows to track every stage of the contract lifecycle.  Automated alerts can help contract management personnel meet key dates and milestones, including contract renewals.  Additionally, audit trail history recorded by intelligent contract management systems can provide an accessible, up-to-date record of contract changes.  Cut contract approval cycle time by overcoming bottlenecks and essentially ensuring accountability with intelligent, automated workflow.

3. Streamlined document assembly

The problem with manual document drafting

Productivity suffers when multiple people are tasked with creating, reviewing, and revising contract documents in a decentralized manner.  Time is wasted creating new documents, repeatedly downloading contract templates, locating relevant information, and manually imputing data into various fields.  Additionally, static, untouched documents become obsolete when up-to-date document versions and templates are not easily apparent to all involved personnel, increasing the risk of error.  Compliance can become a problem when templates, approved language practices, and clauses are not current or standardised.

The solution: automated document assembly

Contract managers and legal professionals: stop wasting time and money with a manual document drafting and assembly process.  Step into 2024 with contract management tools that automate and centralize contracts, agreements, and risk documents.  With cutting-edge document assembly software, contract managers and legal professionals can enforce compliance and make issues regarding data entry errors, collaboration, storage and distribution a thing of the past.

Those armed with this tool can quickly create compliant, timely and accurate documents, contracts and letters that merge their organisation’s approved clauses and data fields and leverage drag-and-drop contract creation as well.  An intuitive interface allows for managing multiple pre-built templates and document versions, which can easily be exported into standard file formats. Google Workspace and MS Office 365 plug-ins can make document editing and contract authoring more time efficient.  Versio- tracking contract management tools can make it so everyone involved in the document drafting process is up-to-speed and on the same page.  Electronic signatures can make signing easier, faster, and accessible from anywhere in the office or on the go.

Concerning the reduction of compliance issues, document assembly software can allow for the configuration of complex rules and user permissions regarding document management and version access with the help of audit trail and approval routing capabilities.  Get ahead in 2024 with contract management tools that promote secure document assembly, storage, and collaboration.

4. Intelligent contract tracking

The problem with manual contract tracking

Manual contract tracking processes may be acceptable for organisations managing low numbers of contracts.  However, contract failure rates exponentially increase when contract volume increases to hundreds, thousands or more.

As was previously mentioned, insufficient contract tracking hinders an organisation’s ability to reach its financial goals, lacks security and puts organisations at regulatory and operational risk.  Manual filing systems, emails and spreadsheets are not adequate contract management tools for organisations to get the most from their contracts because:

  • manual filing systems lead to different versions of contracts being stored in disparate folders, significantly increasing the risk for lost contracts and versions
  • email management of the contract lifecycle leads to delays
  • spreadsheets lack task alerts and alerts regarding issues with contract terms or language; alerts regarding cross-sell, up-sell, discount, or pricing opportunities; fast approvals and routing for signatures; and a centralised version tracking system.

Consequently, timelines can change, audit trails can be unsatisfactory, and rescheduling can become necessary – leading to wasted time and contract lifecycle bottlenecks.

 The solution: intelligent contract tracking tools

Leading contract management softwarecan provide contract management professionals with better contract lifecycle management in the form of advanced contract tracking complete with increased visibility, a secure contract repository, approved templates and clause libraries for streamlined contract drafting, performance insights, improved collaboration and comprehensive audit trails. 

With the help of intelligent contract management tools, contract managers can see faster contract-to-close rates.  Proven contract management process technology, which aids in end-to-end contract lifecycle management, is user-friendly, enabling broad adoption by all users and impacted stakeholders.

If you’re contemplating investing in contract tracking software, look for key features such as:

  • a secure and centralised document repository with virtually unlimited storage
  • automated version tracking
  • tracking for various attachment types – including contracts, purchase orders, supporting documents, invoices, etc
  • pre-award and post-award contract tracking
  • vendor compliance tracking
  • contract record audit tracking and logging.

Additionally, to better track the entirety of the contract lifecycle from requests to approvals, look for contract management tools such as:

  • intelligent workflow automation
  • user-defined fields
  • automated key date and task reminders
  • electronic signatures.

Tackle 2024 with contract management software that provides intelligent contract tracking tools combined with the ability to adapt to your organisation’s evolving standards and processes.

5. eSignatures

The problem with manual signatures

Obtaining signatures manually or in-person can be extremely difficult, especially when employees with signing authority are unavailable.  Signing is arguably the most important aspect of contract management, but manual signing processes are antiquated and slow, standing in the way of a streamlined experience for internal and external parties.

The direct and indirect costs resulting from paper-based processes, administrative time wasted, and mailing fees can become excessive.  Ultimately, manual signing practices can leave your organisation at risk, and the lack of a streamlined signing process can compromise its reputation.  Contract and document management structured around outdated processes requiring paper, printing, mailing, wet signatures and constant follow-up can delay contract execution.

The solution: electronic signatures

Electronic signatures are essential contract management tools in 2024.  An eSignature is an electronic rendering of a signature that enables stakeholders to sign a document online without needing a physical copy of the document on hand.  Signatures are a crucial step in the contract lifecycle.  Signature bottlenecks can trigger delays with meeting obligations, meeting compliance standards, and performing contract execution.  Electronic signatures, however can cut send-to-sign time up to 20%.

Contract managers can fully reap the benefits of eSignatures with electronic signature software such as IntelliSign®.  Companies that are wasting time managing paperwork, that want a better reputation, and that need more efficient archiving processes can benefit significantly from electronic signatures because they can:

  • Save money: No more paper, printers, ink, travel, or mailing costs needs to be required to get documents signed. Simply enjoy the power of contract management tools and eliminate this headache.
  • Save time: Significantly less time can be spent focusing on administrative costs involved with sending, tracking, storing and following up on documents that are out for signature.
  • Provide enhanced security: Confidentiality breaches and processing errors can be reduced because electronic signatures provide audit trails and are legally binding and secure.
  • Improve business relationships and visibility: The signing process can be streamlined and accessible in or out of the office.  Crucial deadlines can be met.

The contract management tools of the future are here

Now that you have learned about the five essential contract management tools for 2024, it is time to consider the contract software platform that offers these and more for CLM success: Contract Insight.

Contract Insight is an award-winning contract lifecycle management software solution that has received acclaim from third-party analysts, customers and many others. Users can successfully oversee comprehensive contract lifecycle management and exceed contract management KPIs.

To find out more, contact John O’Brien, CEO at Four Business Solutions – global business consultants and software integrators specialising in business process improvement.