The end of the year is getting nearer, yet paralegals and general counsel continue to deal with complex and high volume contracts. Legal contract management processes that are inefficient result in annoying obstacles and delays for legal departments, and it’s often the case that these cannot be overcome quickly or easily. However, organizations using legal contract management software tend not to suffer these issues. Delays and bottlenecks are minimized, risk is lowered, and the entire lifecycle becomes streamlined.
7 Important Features to Look for in Contract Management Software
Improved Interface & Easier Contract Requests & Approvals
Legal contract management software enables users to enter legal requests. Upon submission, approval can then be requested with ease. It becomes much easier to enter data for request records, and things like bottlenecks become less frequent thanks to request intake forms. The collection, storage, review and approval of automated requests becomes a breeze. Teams always remain on the same page thanks to approval routing. People can attach an unlimited number of files, and contract records can process existing contract requests, so the need for re-entry is eliminated, and data loss becomes less frequent. Documents can be tracked, as well as assignments, and unlimited notifications are usually available. Features like these mean that legal teams are always held accountable. Standardized and unified processes allow contract requests to be optimized. Suppliers, vendors, customers, employees and providers can request new contracts relatively quickly.
- Improved Interface & Easier Contract Requests & Approvals - Legal contract management software enables users to enter legal requests. Upon submission, approval can then be requested with ease. It becomes much easier to enter data for request records, and things like bottlenecks become less frequent thanks to request intake forms. The collection, storage, review and approval of automated requests becomes a breeze. Teams always remain on the same page thanks to approval routing. People can attach an unlimited number of files, and contract records can process existing contract requests, so the need for re-entry is eliminated, and data loss becomes less frequent. Documents can be tracked, as well as assignments, and unlimited notifications are usually available. Features like these mean that legal teams are always held accountable. Standardised and unified processes allow contract requests to be optimised. Suppliers, vendors, customers, employees and providers can request new contracts relatively quickly.
- Automatic Document Compilation - Contracts can be assembled quickly, accurately and with full compliance thanks to a legal document assembly solution. Fields are merged with existing clauses pulled from a library thanks to automation. Legal teams can manage many document versions and templates, then author them through exportation in a variety of different file formats. Templates can easily be updated at any point and can be used as many times as necessary.
- Automation of Contract Negotiation. - The back and forth communication and redlining associated with the traditional contract negotiations process is eliminated thanks to contract negotiation automation. This makes it easier for various stakeholders such as the general counsel, paralegals and other legal contractors. Legal contract management software enables this automation, and thanks to features like document iteration logging and numbered version tracking, document versioning and collaboration becomes simplified. Version control can be more closely managed by collaborative parties, while documents can be downloaded and uploaded easily. Organizations can assign clause owners thanks to clause ownership functionality. Clause owners can be added to the approval process within advanced contract management software when a party attempts to make changes to a clause. During the negotiation process, the right parties are added there, based on rules of clause ownership. Because organizations can edit rule-based processes, negotiation processes become more efficient for external and internal parties, and even those not using the software. Stakeholders can also send notifications within the pre-configuration workflow, and documentation can be reviewed and viewed through the contract collaboration portal. Contracts assigned to outside employees and stakeholders can still be considered and edited, despite not needing access to the contract management software. However, contracts unimportant to these groups, or more advanced features cannot be accessed. Instead, stakeholders can view and edit documents from the portal, isolating copies that only require access from certain people. Collaboration can take place in one location, and approval alerts can be issued to reduce delays. In summary, the collaboration of contracts is made more straightforward and efficient through using a contract negotiation portal.
- Obligation Workflow. - In order to maintain a healthy contract lifecycle, diligent observance is necessary for contract obligation fulfillment. Organizations can better meet their contractual needs through various contract workflow automation tools. These include notifications, auto alerts, approval routing, and task escalation. Tools such as these also help organizations focus on more strategic aspects of contract management, such as data analytics and realizing opportunities. Legal contract management software allows the configuration of obligation workflow. Once specific criteria are met, something is triggered either before or after contract execution or in both these cases. A culture of the proper notifications, alerts, and approvals can be promoted using flexible obligations management.
- Tools for Compliance and Auditing. - Legal teams get greater visibility as a result of using advanced compliance auditing and reporting tools. This can be used for contractual relationships across various entities and businesses. Thanks to robust and user-friendly reporting metrics, key dates, and renewals, it’s easier for legal compliance standards to be maintained. Integration using OFAC search data is also possible with some forms of legal contract management software. Using data provided from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, comparisons can be made against the company, vendor, and employee data, which is useful for risk analysis.
- Reporting from Legal Contract Management Platforms. - Upcoming tasks, user status, and financial commitment can all be reported on thanks to ad-hoc reporting available in contract management software. Users can either choose to export them to a spreadsheet or email them on a set schedule. If users export reports to a spreadsheet, they can be saved locally and sent to anyone that requires them. People such as paralegals or general counsel can make use of a report designer which is easy to use and allow several layouts to be displayed. In terms of export formats, there are many to choose from, such as Microsoft Word, PDF, image, spreadsheet, CSV, or rich text, amongst others. Important dates, contract performance, and activities can all be viewed through a graphical dashboard. Legal teams can better keep an eye on spending, payment, and data changes thanks to advanced financial tracking, which also integrates better searching and reporting.
- Risk Management - Risk management is an essential step in ensuring the success of a legal contract. Often, contract management software provides more efficient and manageable risk analysis, mitigation, and assessment. Contract management teams are always kept accountable thanks to a risk score. This provides an outline of how well they are using risk tools, enabling them to choose the right type of risk management process. Risk ratings and mappings can be displayed through advanced legal contract management software, while legal teams can effectively visualize risk through risk profile ratings. A risk assessment matrix allows users to see risk patterns and how likely they might occur in contracts. General counsel and paralegals are better able to move forward in the right way as a result of knowing about detrimental risks. Teams can make better decisions regarding risk management thanks to rich visualization features.
Legal Contract Management Software Streamlines Processes & Lowers Risk
Inefficient Legal contract management processes can be burdensome as they can result in reasonably lengthy delays. Legal contract management software can mitigate this problem, streamlining the entire process while lowering risk.
So what should organizations look for when choosing contract management software?
- Strong Interface. Contract requests and approvals are more straightforward, and bottlenecks are reduced thanks to request intake forms. Teams remain connected thanks to approval routing and contract records eliminate duplicate data entry and data loss. Tracking and notifications are also available. All these features enable quicker requests for stakeholders.
- Quick Document Compilation. Legal documents can be compiled quickly, compliant, and accurately. Automation allows fields to be merged with clauses and multiple versions are supported. Teams can author numerous formats, and multiple templates are available, which can be used more than once.
- Automation of Contract Negotiation. Redlining and back or forth communications are eliminated using contract management software. Collaboration is made more manageable, and document logging, tracking, and versioning become easier. Documents can easily be uploaded and downloaded while clause ownership assigns clauses to specific owners. Negotiation becomes more efficient for everyone and documents can be reviewed quickly through the collaboration portal. People outside the project can still edit or view contracts, while alerts for collaboration and approval help to prevent delays.
- Obligation Workflow. Organizations can focus on strategy thanks to time-saving features such as approval routing, auto alerts, task escalation and notifications.
- Compliance & Auditing Tools. Thanks to advanced features for reporting and auditing, legal teams have greater visibility. Legal compliance becomes easier to maintain thanks to features for key dates, renewal, and metrics. Teams can also use OFAC data for risk analysis.
- Reporting. User statistics, finance, and tasks can all be reported on using contract management software, and corresponding reports can be emailed or saved to a spreadsheet. The inbuilt report designer allows many layouts and can be exported to many file versions. A graphical dashboard provides important dates, contract performance and activity overview. Tracking becomes easier for spending, payment, and data change. The search functionality is also better.
- AI-Powered Risk Management. Risk analysis, mitigation, and assessment is improved by using contract management software. Legal teams are better able to choose the right type of risk management process, thanks to the risk score. This can be visualized, enabling teams to make better decisions. Risk can also be predicted using a risk assessment matrix.