3 Ways to Automate Your Contract Management Process
Managing corporate agreements using contract lifecycle management is no easy feat. There are many different skills required like good attention to detail, discipline, and bounds of patience. Then there’s the investment in time needed as well. It’s useful to introduce streamlining measures or automation for any part of the contract management process, which legal teams, contract managers, and other parties can make use of. Overall, documents can be managed more effectively, regardless of the number of contracts you handle. This gives you time to complete other more critical tasks. Here are the three most important ways you can automate your own contract management process.
Tracking Milestones and Monitoring Contracts
It’s surprising just how quickly an agreement can be thrown off track simply as a result of not keeping an eye on milestones, deadlines, or key dates. Just one contract usually has several important dates that need to be tracked and prepared for. If there are over six of these, managing them all can soon become complicated.
As your contract portfolio grows, automation is essential as it makes sure no crucial milestones are missed. Several different things can benefit from automation, like calendar notifications, project management tools, or the tracking of key contract dates.
Usually, individuals responsible for managing agreements concentrate on the parts of the contract lifecycle they deem most important. For example, executing new agreements may seem much more important than reporting on existing contracts.
In reality, reporting is critical. It indicates where contracts have gone wrong in the past, clauses that must be amended, or overall, how a poorly drawn up contract could be detrimental to a business. Of course, there are many other consequences of poor contract reporting as well.
It’s natural for companies to prioritize time-sensitive tasks over contract reporting. However, the importance of the latter should not be overlooked. By merely setting time aside every month can a company incorporate reporting into their regular routine. This could be quarterly for companies that don’t deal with many contracts. Or for those that do, could be monthly or even weekly.
Contract management software is one way to automate contract reporting. Reports can generate a variety of useful information and be highly customized. Aside from being able to choose precisely which contracts can be reported on, report frequency can be determined, plus the people within the organization that should receive that information. In other words, time is saved as one-off requests for specific contract data are no longer necessary.
It’s typical for negotiations in contract management to take weeks, even months to happen, which is even more irritating when a manual signing process is used, wasting yet more precious time and just another blockage to passing the finishing line.
Shipping a contract to various places simply to gather a wet signature is an antiquated and time-wasting method. Not to mention the risk of a data breach as well, the consequences of which can be devastating.
Thankfully, e-signature tools eliminate these kinds of problems, making the entire process faster. It’s true that for many businesses, a standalone solution is entirely sufficient. In other cases, however, an organization must use contract management software with this functionality built-in.
Unlike wet signatures, which require different parties to trawl through paperwork and manually sign it, e-signature allows you to quickly flag where they are needed. Documentation can then be passed promptly to the next party for signing or completed in tandem with others. Overall, the entire process is streamlined, which saves much time.
Another benefit of e-signature is that contract managers can see who has signed and who still needs to do so. Knowing when a third party has signed is another useful metric to be aware of that e-signature can provide.
Why Reporting, Tracking, and Signing are Vital for Automating Contract Management
If you are dealing with many different contracts, then automation is highly recommended. You’re unlikely ever to miss another vital milestone again, unlike manual methods. Similarly, automation can be used with reporting, helping to indicate historical contract mistakes or bad clauses. Contract management software usually features automatic reporting, allowing the user to determine the exact data that should be reported on as well as the right frequency. The contract manager can also choose who can access the information. Contract reporting helps inform better business decisions. Relying on wet signatures wastes time in actually finalizing a contract. This can easily be automated using e-signatures, making the entire process quicker and vastly lowering the risk of a data breach. However, the benefits don’t end here. Contract managers can also see which parties have signed, and who is yet to do so. E-signature is also useful for auditing purposes.