There seems to be a common assumption amongst self-employed and small business owners that contract management software is only feasible for larger businesses and organisations that handle a vast multitude of contracts. However, most people fail to take into account the fact that the contract management process is used throughout most business transactions and especially in regards to sales teams who have sales and purchasing agreements.
If your business is in its early stages and you have few staff members and limited capital, this does not mean that contract management software is not right for you. No matter the size, any contract you enter into will require content, time deadlines, scope and deliverables. The importance of managing contracts correctly from beginning to end is still vital for the effective organization of the business, regardless of company size. Correct management can mean the difference between a growing relationship with clients and customers and therefore improving business growth and a business failing to make it in their respective market.
Due to the modern advancement of currently technology, there is no reason not to implement contract management software to improve the efficiency of your business and to keep at the top of your game, and as your business grows, you will already have the management software system in place to deal with an expansion of contracts. Here are several benefits contract management can have for small businesses:-
A substantial part of management for any company is the sheer amount of documentation and data required, even for a smaller business which limited contracts. A contract management system centralizes all this information into one safe, single, accessible location. Even with just having several contracts, this eliminates the need for filing cabinets and reduces human error and loss. Having all your documentation together streamlines the documentation process and provides easy access to data and easy management of documents, contracts, legal agreements or licensing arrangements. It also allows for growth of your business and in certain industries, having centralised storage reduces the risk of exposure to third parties due to having all the processes, procedures and data in one, single location.
There are many helpful tools that are part of a contract management system:-
- Contract templates: Contract management software enables you to create standard contract templates, making a sometimes-tedious job quicker and easier to accomplish. It also however, can be completely configurable to the required specifications. It is also compatible with Microsoft Word, making integration of the software and the actual use for you or any of your staff simpler and easier.
- Integration: This may be your first time considering contract management software, or you may have it already and want to switch providers. Thanks to cross-platform XML architecture, our software can integrate with a range of different contract management systems and software. Existing tools that are already being successfully utilized within the company can also be retained and implemented into the new contract management system.
- Drag and Drop: A drag and drop interface may seem like a basic and simple tool, but it means documents can be moved from your PC straight into your contract management system with the least amount of hassle and time.
- Automated reporting: Productivity is everything, especially for small businesses trying to grow in their respective market. Automated reporting tracks important information and with complete revision history, you can see how contracts have changed and if they are proving a benefit for your business.
- Custom Reports: It doesn’t matter how small a business is, there is always a need to analyse operational data, workflows, information and documents which you can do with the custom reports feature.
- Audit: Every action made in a contract management system is fully tracked in the audit logs, along with a time stamp and the user’s information.
- Trigger based alerts: You can use this tool to configure and track important milestones and events and set alarms and notifications to make sure nothing ever falls under the radar.
- E-signature integration: With the advanced technology currently available, contracts are being moved online and most companies are becoming paperless. This means e-signatures are becoming more and more popular. The software makes it easy to collect and store signatures and reduces the amount of time a contract set-up can take, as well as adding an extra level of security.
- Access control interface: Control and configure who can access and make changes to any part of the contract management software and data.
- Browser-based platform: This may vary depending on which contract management software company you use. But Symfact for example, not only has a browser based platform so you can access contracts no matter where you are the in world, or on what device, as long as you have an internet connection, it also provides support for multiple languages, locales and currencies. Making using your contract management software achievable everywhere.
Communication and Collaboration
Although the likelihood of small businesses not being able to manually manage all the phases and processes involved in the lifecycle of a contract is small, because a company is small means there is often need to outsource certain aspects or obtain some outside help. This is particularly prevalent if a business needs legal advice, as contract risks have to mitigated and when company policies need a certain level of compliance. Sharing of sensitive data and documentation with third-parties can sometimes be difficult and there is a higher risk of human error. With a contract management system however, such information is more easily shared and is far safer and there is a lesser risk of documents being misplaced.
When you are trying to build relationships with clients and service providers, communication is essential for all parties involved. Contract management systems allows information relating to contracts and projects to be readily available and communicated easily and effectively with all relevant stakeholders and persons. This allows contract reviews and deadlines and deliverables to be monitored and the contract management process to run as smoothly as possible.
Most contract management systems will have both two-factor authentication and secure encryption for your data. Some may even let you decide which server location your data and information can be safely stored on. Most Permission based access control means you can control and audit who views, edits or administers any part of the software. If there is currently only you or a few members of staff, this likely doesn’t seem particularly important, however if your business continues or starts to grow, the more likely documents and sensitive data could be accessed by third-parties. It doesn’t matter how large or small your business is, you should never assume you would not be targeted and so data protection is essential.
If you are just starting out or have a small business, then you may be affected by inflated costs, the expense of renting office or workshop space or the actual time spent on managing contracts. Contract management software often reduces these costs and can save a small business money they can’t afford to lose. If all your documents and data are stored together online, then you reduce the need for larger offices, and using the tools that contract management software provide; such as automatic auditing, reporting, and the accessibility and efficiency that such software allows, means the time spent on managing the contracts is vastly reduced and you can improve productivity and optimize your contract lifecycle management. By implementing this into your business, these tools can also help provide some legal protection, as every change or view of a contract is tracked and recorded, reducing the costs of a contract going wrong.
Although contract management systems are pretty user friendly, with clear dashboards and processes, we understand that sometimes it can take staff some time to get used to using a new or different platform and system. If you are worried about using a contract management system, most companies now offer 24 hour online support. However, before you make a purchase, you need to be aware of any extra costs that may arise from implementation of the software, or software upgrades in the future or even basic support services.
As a small business considering contract management software, the main benefit you will find however, is the ability to configure the software to the needs and requirements of your business. You can decide the on the features that are important to you, so you only end up with the functionality and therefore the cost, of what is needed. If the solution you choose increases productivity and helps your business to grow, you can always add on any extra services and functions in the future.
No matter what your business is, or what industry it is part of, whether you are managing contracts, documentation, legal agreements with clients or licensing arrangements, contract management software can make the management and administration of a contract lifecycle far easier and will improve many aspects and the productivity of your business.