The right contract management tools make all the difference for an organization’s contract productivity, efficiency, and visibility. Companies need to select an effective platform that not only handles their current volume, but evolves with future demands as well. Companies in this position will find themselves in a league of their own when their legal teams can accelerate contract creation, negotiation, execution, and post-execution activities.
These initial benefits are only possible, however, by selecting the right type of contract management tool. When organizations rely on outdated contract lifecycle management (CLM) software, traditional document repositories to store their contracts, or worse, paper-based record keeping, they face various dangers that harm their businesses.
If your organization is tired of wasting time, energy, and resources because of ineffective, antiquated solutions and processes, the following checklist will help you make an informed decision about the right platform for your needs. Here, we’ll drill down into specific functions you should look for when deciding on a new CLM platform.
Depending on the size of your organization, your legal team may handle hundreds or even thousands of contracts a month, putting great strain on your employees and processes to manage this volume. Contract management tools improve how contracts are created on multiple fronts:
1. Generate New Contracts
If your organization’s contracts consistently use similar language, you can establish standardized clauses to support a faster, more efficient drafting process. Additionally, you can optimize the drafting process with standardized templates and leverage dynamic questionnaires to guide users through new contract generation. This ensures your organization can create legally-compliant contracts with speed and efficiency.
2. Increase Productivity with Add-ins and Integrations
Change is sometimes a difficult task for employees, especially those who rely on industry staples for their everyday tasks. The most effective CLM platforms integrate with popular solutions and processes such as leading CRM, collaboration, and document management tools. In the legal world, Microsoft Word and emails have long formed the backbone for legal teams’ work. That’s why you should look for contract management software that offers a Word add-in. This will enable your team to draft contracts in Word and easily access approved contractual language from a clause library.
3. Collaborate with Peers
Contracts often take on a life of their own during the negotiation process, as these agreements are in constant revision periods between parties. With CLM platforms, your team can easily collaborate on any work-in-progress contracts, adding notes, attachments, comments, and sending real-time notifications to ensure all users are updated on this progression. These solutions keep lines of communication open while serving as a springboard of reference points for future contract negotiations.
The most effective CLM software will help your organization at the negotiating table. By having a platform available that ensures your team will never miss a deadline, easily find details from legacy contracts to apply to current drafts, and pinpoint any red flags, your company will be in a position of strength for future negotiations.
4. Enhance Contract Reviews
By choosing advanced contract management tools, your team will be more productive during the review process, enabling users to quickly and easily search for relevant terms and conditions. They can also view the version history of each contract to compare against past documents. When workflows, AI, and machine learning enter the equation, your organization can reduce the human capital needed to review the contracts and find information like force majeure and other key term, termination, and commercial clauses.
Another important aspect in selecting CLM software is import functionality. There are platforms that enable your organization to import third-party paper contracts into the system, so your team can immediately start reviewing key terms and clauses that are vital to negotiations.
5. Trigger Approval Workflows
Your organization’s legal professionals, salespeople, and other stakeholders may all be involved in contract management activities. Feature-rich contract management tools offer automated approval workflows that will streamline this process, alerting all relevant users to key points during negotiation phases. The combination of automated approval workflows will speed up your negotiations.
6. Store Contracts in a Searchable, Centralized Repository
Contracts stored in one place is just part of the puzzle; your organization needs the ability to easily search this vast depth of information. The most effective CLM platforms offer a single, searchable repository that enables easy uploads and executed agreements. Certain systems even offer bulk uploads for faster execution, so your team can begin finding key terms and clauses to gain more insight into contractual obligations and opportunities.
7. Get Notified for Key Dates
If your organization has ever missed a deadline for contract negotiations or struggled to find key details from legacy contracts, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are contract management tools available that provide insight into your contract renewals, expiration dates, or other key milestones unique to your company’s contract management process. Not only will you have the notification system in place to ensure no stone goes unturned, but also you won’t have to rely on your team members to comb through massive amounts of information themselves. This means you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate stronger terms for future contracts.
Your contracts have sensitive and privileged information that must be protected from malicious parties at all costs. Any contract management software you utilize must have the necessary security safeguards in place to avoid any potential data exposure.
8. Sign Agreements Securely
Modern CLM software will enable your team to securely sign contracts from any device. In addition to this feature, some CLM platforms also include unlimited e-signatures built in, which further improves efficiency during contract execution. Bult-in eSignatures are more scalable and offer a seamless user experience, unlike third-party e-signature solutions. On top of that, third-party eSignature solutions are also expensive, as vendors often charge customers by the number of users and envelopes.
In your quest to find the best possible contract management tools, the final component of selecting an effective platform is ensuring your team can leverage available, relevant data for faster decision-making. Without insight into information most important to your contract management processes, your organization won’t fully maximize productivity, efficiency, and future negotiations.
9. Track Time to Execution
When evaluating potential CLM platforms, you should ensure that any platform you select enables your team to track data effectively. A customizable dashboard is an ideal way to visualize how much time is being spent throughout your entire contract workflow. This insight will help users gain a clear understanding of where they can make improvements in the contract management process.
10. Report on Contract Portfolio
Dashboard functionality is merely just scratching the surface of what’s possible with advanced CLM software. Certain systems enable organizations to build custom dashboards that include reminders for every stage of the contract lifecycle process, so your team members will never miss an update for contracts awaiting internal approval, in negotiation, or awaiting signature.
Using a customizable dashboard and an intelligent contract repository, your team can:
- Track performance of your contracts to see which ones lead to successful execution.
- Leverage the searchable repository’s advanced structured search feature to instantly identify areas of risk and opportunities to negotiate more favorable terms.
- Save searches if you’re regularly tracking information (i.e. show me all contracts expiring next month with payment terms greater than 45 days).
11. Export Data
One of the final steps of your contract management process likely involves exporting contracts, a potentially burdensome task depending on the systems in place. Advanced CLM platforms are ideal when exporting data, thanks to their multifunctional purposes. By selecting the right system for your organization’s needs, your team can easily run and export reports, run advanced searches about the status of contracts, timelines, and revenue tied to your contracts, all while exporting this information to a comma-separated values (CSV) quickly and easily. It’s that simple.
Check All the Boxes
This checklist provides a detailed overview of what your organization should consider when searching for the best contract management tools on the market. If you want a platform equipped with all of these features above and then some, you don’t have to look far to find a solution that will reshape your contracting needs. See how IntelAgree can help streamline your entire contract management process from start to finish.
Schedule a demo now to check it out!