As the muted New Year celebrations die out and everyone goes back to work, you may be reflecting on what was a hard 2020 for many businesses. However, here at Symfact we believe it is best to look forward to what your business can achieve this year and what steps you need to take to realise any possible potential. If you are looking for solutions to management that can help you increase your profitability and revenue, improve performance and operations and give you an advantage over your competitors, all while minimizing any risk to your organization, then implementing a Contract management system can be of huge benefit to you in the coming year.
You may be thinking just how exactly Contract Management can help your business grow and give you a competitive edge in an already crowded market, especially one that still may be suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 global pandemic and particularly if your business and any third parties involved may still be under restrictions. There are a multitude of overall benefits to Contract Management Software but the ones that should prove the most useful as we head into 2021 are summarized below.
In order for your business to move forward, you will most often benefit from streamlining your processes and systems into one. If your business or organization starts to expand, having different internal management systems means administration and costs can quickly become out of control. Having all your contracts, data and documentation in and across various shared folders, emails and if you’re particularly old school; a filing cabinet, can prove massively inefficient when trying to maintain sustainable business growth and stay compliant with data regulations.
Contract Management Software can help merge all departmental systems that are currently involved with any part of the contract process such as Legal, HR and Sales as well as the management and administration across the business as a whole, and by collating all the individual processes and information, you can have a tighter control of the contract process and avoid human error and information loss.
Most Contract Management software companies can configure a centralized system and tailor it to your particular business needs, but there are several standard features of a Contract Management System that should be a baseline for any software you implement.
- A substantial part of management for any company is the sheer amount of documentation and data required, let alone the amount of paperwork a business dealing with contracts and a large amount of third parties accumulates, and has to store safely. A contract management system centralizes all this information into one safe, single, accessible location. This streamlines the documentation process and provides easy access to data and easy management of documents, contracts, legal agreements or licensing arrangements.
- Contract management software enables you to create both standardized contract templates and contracts that are configurable to any required specifications. Having access to a central contract system and this feature means employees can reduce the amount of time spent on writing contracts.
- Having a contract repository with a search function is an essential asset of a Contract Management System, this means contracts and data can be searched quickly and efficiently and employees can access the most up-to-date version of what they are searching for. This can reduce duplicates by different departments and reduce costly human errors.
- Having a 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. And as the pandemic is set to continue into at least the early part of 2021 and remote working is fast becoming the normality for many, this has become an integral function for many companies.
By centralizing all of your information, administration of your business becomes far easier, enabling your business to move forward into 2021 with streamlined processes and an ability to manage future contracts with ease.
Productivity & Efficiency
Automating your processes by implementing a Contract Management System can seem like a daunting process but can have huge rewards in regards to productivity and efficiency, and as a result of that, your revenue can go up. Improving overheads and tighter cost controls are something no business should turn down. Keeping a closer eye on workflows and reducing the time spent by your employees on the actual management of contracts due to the efficiency of a Contract Management system, means that productivity will improve, which in turn improves business growth and performance. By optimizing your contract lifecycle management and using the tools included with the software, you can keep on top of any changes or ending and extension of contracts, allowing you to assess and project long-term revenue. Better resource planning is essential to the success of a business. The tools within Contract Management Software that can help improve your business in 2021 include:-
- Automated reporting is a must if you view productivity is everything, especially if you are a small business trying to grow in your 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 mean you can analyse operational data and workflows and have an overview of where improvements can made. But having datasets from all your processes in one place can also help your businesses future by enabling you to plan for future agreements by predicting any third party behaviour and help you optimize both your financials and obligations.
- One of the most useful features of a Contract Management system is the trigger notifications. You can set this up to send notifications for any specific event or milestone. This helps employees have complete control over contracts and projects and helps your business enormously when it comes to the end of a contract lifecycle, as unproductive contracts won’t be left to auto-renew and you can be on top of timelines in regards to renegotiating contracts and terms.
- The Auditing feature of many Contract Management systems can increase efficiency by optimizing workflow and due everything being in one location and together on one system, auditing has never been easier. If you have a large amount of contracts and third-parties with access to their online contracts, it is imperative that you can easily track changes and views. Every action made in Contract Management system is fully tracked in the audit logs, along with a time stamp and the user’s information. This can provide a company-wide transparency and create unity between departments.
Ultimately, having better control over your entire business process with a Contract Management system means you have better control over your corporate entity and all the elements that make up your business. Improving both efficiency and productivity.
Compliance & Risk
Due to the expansion of technology and the increased use of websites, file shares and collaboration software, many companies have all their documents and data stored across different sites, departments and even locations. This means there is no collective understanding or enforcement of policies. With the central repository provided by a Contract Management system, you can store all policy procedures and the associated data and documents in one easily accessible location, and because these are available online, so employees working from home have access too, it should enable a greater compliance to the various policies.
With Contract Management software you can create all of your policies, procedures and regulations and easily communicate them company-wide. Some software companies, such as Symfact, offer a configurable control interface, which means that you can track members of staff that may not be adhering to company regulations and enforce the policy and procedure.
Mitigating Third party risk and adherence to regulations can often be a complex process for compliance officers. If a business finds themselves taking on more and more contracts, each with their own extensive and complex requirements, they will often look to Contract Management software in regards to mitigating and managing contract-related risk. Not only can you build on the centralized aspect of the software by creating a library of standardized terms and clauses, which can also help with compliance of your own policies, but you and your business can use this software to identify any contracts that may include unilateral termination provisions, or indemnification clauses for example. Even elaborate legal language could flag up a potential risk in the future. The software’s risk management framework can even be configured to match a business’s own risk models and processes, improving accuracy and avoiding mistakes.
A few features that you may find offered within Contract Management software that can be beneficial in regards to compliance and risk are:-
- Your business can design and build intelligent questionnaires to help identify any third party risks when entering a new business partnership.
- Some companies offer an Identity management tool, which can help detect and prevent fraud.
- There is often an Incident management feature which can help with monitoring and investigations, helping to protect your revenue.
- Some software, such as Symfact, links to all leading external databases such as those from Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters, giving you access to advanced security profiling of both businesses and individuals and a comprehensive background check, which helps enormously when mitigating risk.
As you can see from the list above, automating Contract Management can enforce standards and processes, and increase the accuracy of third party due diligence. By using the control and overview the workflow engine offers, you can better ensure governance and compliance.
This may seem like an odd thing in a list for businesses, but the past year has seen a rise in businesses seeking to take some corporate responsibility. With climate change a big issue, a lot of clients are now being attracted to companies that have better eco-credentials and are seen as being “green.” Implementing Contract Management Software can actually help your business reduce your carbon footprint in 2021.
- Due to the centralization of Contract Management Software, you can track agreements and keep contracts and information digitally stored, negating the need for a paper trail and so reducing both your usage and waste.
- With the advanced technology currently available, contracts are being moved online and most companies are becoming paperless. E-signature integration in the software makes it easy to collect and store signatures and reduces the amount of paperwork, helping the environment as well as adding an extra level of security.
With everything moving online in the age of the pandemic, and with 2021 looking similar to the end of 2020 in regards to restrictions, it is imperative as a business that you have security in place across your business. Although it would be nice to think that security and data breaches are always the work of a criminal mastermind, in reality, it is often just simple employee error when exchanging information. However, as data is currency and your contract portfolio is your honeypot, stopping any data breaches should be a high priority for your business moving forward into 2021. So what can Contract Management Software provide in regards to Cyber Security?
- A permission based access control interface like the one Symfact uses, is a must for business. Providing log in restrictions, you can restrict access as and when you need to, with permission only given by authorized persons.
- Most companies will have secure data encryption, with some offering two-factor authentication.
- If a Contract Management System company offers hosted solutions, you can select the location of your server and therefore data, depending on your legislative and jurisdictional requirements, and these are protected by the latest encryption technologies.
- Due to features being automated, such as document storage, it uses less human resource, reducing the risk of an accidental data breach.
With companies expanding and wanting to do business and compete with others across the world, technology to cope with the larger demand of business transactions is rapidly becoming vital to a growing business. If you think Contract Management is right for your company then contact Symfact today to start the next step for your business and make 2021 your year.