There are a number of different scenarios that might lead a business to consider its options with regard to Contract Management software. It could be that the existing digital Contract Management software in use is proving to be inadequate, or is no longer fit for purpose due to changes in the nature of the business. It could be that there is no existing Contract Management software in use yet, and that initial change from manual control of the contracting system to a digital one with a higher degree of automation is now required.
Whichever circumstances have prompted your Contract Management software queries, the information you need in order to draw your conclusions and make your informed decisions is broadly the same. You want to know which digital Contract Management software solution is right for your business. The answer lies in the detail, and in the range of features that are available in such software packages. Regardless of the size of your organization, or the industry within which it operates, there are specific features that you should be looking for in a Contract Management software package.
Overall ease of implementation
You need to know that the implementation of Contract Management software is not going to cause problematic disruption to your business. The software package needs to be designed in such a way that its roll-out can be tailored to your business, with configurable features, and the ability to fully integrate with other, existing software platforms used by your operation. The use of cross-platform XML architecture is therefore something to look for in Contract Management software. Furthermore, there are significant practical advantages to be had from an easy implementation, beyond the minimization of commercial disruption. An easily implemented software package is less daunting to the teams of staff who have to adopt it into their regular workflow. The willingness of staff to work with a new software package is an important element in the success of any roll-out, and this is increased by a pain-free installation and integration process.
An organized library of editable templates
The goal of Contract Management software is to streamline your operation in order to make significant savings in time and money, and the inclusion of editable templates is a big part of that. Firstly, when you have a digital library of refined, standardized contracts and clauses, you can ensure that all your contracts – from employment to sales and procurement – are fully aligned and up-to-date, and have closely monitored revision histories. Secondly, having the ability to edit and configure all your contracts inside the software package with a Microsoft Word extension saves your organization time, and gives you tighter version control.
Any new software package that is to be introduced to your staff needs to have an intuitive interface, in order for its adoption to be truly successful. The user experience needs to be straightforward, manageable, and easy to explore. Simple facilities, such as the ability to drag and drop documents from the PC directly into the Contract Management software means that staff can get on with the vital task of enmeshing the software package into their regular workflow, with minimal disruption and delay. The added advantage of the intuitive interface is that it allows for the easy introduction of software that manages multiple processes in a single system. This means that this one software implementation can have the biggest, positive impact on your business operation in the shortest amount of time.
Permission-based access control
One of the biggest issues with manual Contract Management processes is control of access. When we use paper documents, physically stored and archived on the premises by staff, it is almost impossible to know for sure who is accessing your contract information. It is certainly impossible to perform accurate audits of editing and administration of the system. When looking at Contract Management software, permission-based access control is therefore one of the features to look for – because it provides vital, tight control of who is accessing the digital system, and what they are doing once they are inside. In terms of compliance with industry regulations, this is considered best practice – especially in terms of data protection.
As one of the main advantages of Contract Management software is the streamlining of business operations with a time-saving digital solution, a digital package that is browser-based is a very important feature. This means that contract development, approval, and control can happen anywhere, at any time, because personnel can access the necessary documents from any internet-enabled device. With a paper-based, manual system, these processes would be restricted to being undertaken on-site, or would be constrained by physical delivery systems and delays. A system that relies on personnel emailing documentation for review or development cannot accurately track revision histories, or negotiations. Only a browser-based Contract Management platform enables your personnel to securely access your contract system, and keep projects moving while they are on the move themselves. It achieves this by allowing tasks to be completed inside the software suite, in a fully transparent, auditable way – effectively speeding up project timescales, and reducing instances of overlooked human error.
Encrypted data transfer
In this age of cyber-crime and breaches of data, an encrypted data transfer facility has never been a more important feature in Contract Management software. Your contract system contains some of the most personally and commercially sensitive data of your operation, with employee details, supply chain details, non-disclosure agreements, and sale and procurement details all stored in a way that is auditable and searchable. It must be stored with compliance in mind, in terms of industry regulations, too, and this is why encrypted data transfer is vital. It means that all the information in your contract system is kept secure – even when personnel accesses it through its browser-based platform. Your data is protected and, most importantly, so are your business interests and reputation.
Configurable milestones and event triggers
Few things cause problems in business like missing the chance to re-negotiate a contract as it comes up for renewal. This is why it is vital for Contract Management software to feature milestones and event triggers that are entirely configurable. This puts your team back in control of each contract and means you are able to address renewals and negotiations in a pro-active way, rather than playing catch-up and being forced to respond to issues retrospectively. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to keep your teams fully on track throughout the contracting process – improving efficiency and ensuring timely project delivery.
There is no better way to keep the big picture in mind than with customized reports that detail your operation. This is why a custom reports feature in Contract Management software is key. Not only does it give you a clear view of the work being completed within your contract system, but it also provides you with a straightforward and simple way to ensure compliance with industry regulations. When reporting is automated, in addition to being customizable, you have instant access to better business insights, along with complete revision histories of all documentation. These audit trails can improve contract productivity while helping you to maximize revenue through performance reviews.
Like everything in business, the likelihood of success is increased when you undertake to do your due diligence – and choosing the right Contract Management software for your operation is no exception. Your contracts are the vital components that ensure consensus, work, and payments flow at a healthy rate through every part of your enterprise. The effective and streamlined management of that important documentation means you are able to ensure complete connectivity between senior staff, your sales and legal departments, your supply chain, your clients, and your vendors. It ensures real-time oversight of licensing agreements and leases and allows you to lower your overheads in the long term. It is an investment in the forward progress of your business.
Consider the future
The key things you need from a digital Contract Management software solution are flexibility, intuitiveness, and configurability. In combination, these three functions guarantee that you will be working with a system that responds to your current needs but, most importantly, can grow with your business. The future is, perhaps, the most important consideration in any Contract Management software implementation because, when your business sees the benefit of streamlined operations such a package can provide, growth is inevitable.
Your Contract Management solution must have scope for change, and for your commercial evolution. As your business responds to fluctuations in its market, as well as to technological advancements in its industry, so your Contract Management processes must change, evolve, and advance, too. Such dynamism can secure your position and status among your competition as all businesses seek to adapt to the shifting circumstances of a volatile world. When you have real, actionable control of your contract systems and processes, all things are possible. So, choose wisely by choosing Symfact.