With successful contracts being one of the most important aspects of a thriving business, it is imperative that any contract management system is both productive and efficient to maintain stability and growth. However, if there is a large volume of contracts, or complex contracts - especially within the legal and financial industries, that need to be managed, then the more likely it is that any weaknesses or pain points in the current processes can become serious issues. Manual or poor contract management systems are estimated to cost businesses around 9% of their annual revenue, as well as having a detrimental effect on future prospects.
By, automating their contract management, businesses and organisations can streamline their procedures and processes, improving both productivity and efficiency whilst increasing contract value and business revenue.
What is Automated Contract management?
Automated contract management is an online, technological solution to the processes of storing, managing, and monitoring processes involved in any contracts or agreements between your business and a third party. It simply replaces any manual tasks involved in a contract lifecycle and reduces the time spent manually managing each contract.
How to Automate Contract management
The best way to automate your contract management system, is by implementing an automated contract management solution, such as the contract management software package available from Symfact. Automated solutions are aligned to modern business processes and work seamlessly with existing IT infrastructure. This enables you to effectively control and adapt contract management software to any current framework you have in place, especially if your business is already managing complex or legal contracts.
Most software providers will provide everything you need to integrate your new automated systems, including support. Although most contract management systems are easy to use, with clear dashboards and processes, we understand that sometimes it can take employees some time to get used to using an automated system. At Symfact for example, there is a support portal that is available 24 hours a day, with lots of useful information and “how to” guides, as well as phone and email support, which can ensure a smooth rollout of the software and the new automated processes.
How does Automated Contract management work and what are the benefits?
During any contract management process, there is usually a framework in place for the management of key elements of a contract lifecycle. This end-to-end management is crucial to correctly and effectively managing your agreements to ensure a positive outcome for your business. Automated contract management works by not only automating all the processes involved with each key element of the contract lifecycle but streamlines the entire management system to improve efficiency and resource planning, save time and improve the contract lifecycle value.
Improves Contract Creation, approvals, and document storage
The creation of configurable contract templates and standardized language in automated software, can make the usually long and tedious job of writing out contracts far quicker and easier. Having pre-approved contract templates that can be configurable to specific clauses and can be regularly updated, improves productivity during contract creation and helps ensure compliance with any legal or regulatory rules. Whilst having a library of standardized terms and clauses can help quicken this process even further. By finding an automated software that is also compatible with whatever systems and applications you currently use, Microsoft Word for example, you can make the integration of the software and the actual use for your employees far easier.
The approvals process is often an obstacle in how quick a contract can move through the admin phase. However, the one of the benefits of an automated system is the integration of e-signature software. This has been designed to quicken the approval process, with full tracking and audit trails for any edits and signatures. By having the benefit of quick authentication of any persons involved in the contract management process, from employees to third parties, you can increase the time and efficiency spent on each contract whilst still having an important level of security and protection in place.
A standard feature of most contract management software is a central contract repository. This allows for the storage of all individual contracts and any associated documentation. This allows for a tighter control on the contract process and reduces the loss of crucial data. It can also help with version control and by using metadata to search contracts for key words and clauses, information can be identified quickly and easily, making contract management efficient and optimizing the time and resources available.
In terms of compliance, with the new GDPR regulations in full force, having full control over what documentation and data is stored is beneficial in keeping compliant with regulations and so a central repository is a key element in not just successful contract management, but for your entire business.
If you choose to automate your contract management system, all the information about your business will remain in one place, so you can maintain and manage complex contracts and control organizational structures without complications by using automated workflows. Any elements or processes can then be visualized through interactive dashboards. This gives your business a controlled transparency and a better ability to manage a larger number of complex contracts at any given time.
In order to make fact-based decisions regarding your contracts and their value, automated contract management software offers reporting tools which allows an analysis of all the workflows and operational data relating to each contract and gives an overview of your business. By tracking valuable information, milestones and events and using trigger notifications for critical deadlines and deliverables, software can offer your business full control over a contract and avoid any costs to your business, especially during the contract renewal phase, as this is a particular provision that can be missed without adequate oversight.
Better management of risk & compliance
In terms of compliance, automated contract management software offers several benefits to your business. By integrating an automated system and using both the auditing features available and the thorough record of all information relating to a contract or agreement that automated contract management software offers, businesses can audit and track every step of a contract change and hold both employees and third-parties accountable for their actions, as well as managing the various terms and clauses in contracts. For those businesses in particularly heavily regulated industries, this helps reduce human error and provides protection against damages whilst helping your business stay compliant with regulations.
As well as improving compliance, contract management software can offer your business improved capabilities for the management and monitoring of risk. As businesses expand and increase their number of contracts, and relationships change and grow between your business and third parties, especially in relation to their value, risks also change and need to be managed, and as such, automated software is the natural solution to balance out the increased risk profile and overheads that third parties bring to the equation.
To prepare for any contract or agreement, contract management software offers tools such as designing, building, and publishing intelligent questionnaires, and identity management to identify, authenticate, and investigate individuals and companies. The contract management software from Symfact even has links leading to external databases, giving access to advanced security profiling of both businesses and individuals and comprehensive background checks to help identify organisational risk. These validation features can prove extremely beneficial to businesses wanting to mitigate risk in a more efficient way than their current system.
Never miss a deadline
Trigger based alerts are a feature provided by most contract management software and systems. You can use this tool to configure and track important data and by setting milestones in the software, you can set alarms and receive notifications for specific tasks and events, ensuring nothing ever falls under the radar, including contract re-negotiation dates. This also helps with the reduction of risk, as missed obligations can leave businesses open to legal damages.
Improved Data Analytics
By integrating automated software, you can utilize some of the features to get added value out of the data held in your current contracts and optimize the agreements. By analyzing operational data, you can make fact-based, and data driven decisions, improving both performance and ROI.
Another benefit to having automated contract management software, is the ability to analyse workflows, which can give you a complete overview of where improvements can be made. Having all your data from processes in one place can also help your business plan for future agreements by either predicting any possible third-party risks or solving issues quickly such as bottlenecks in the system or missed deadlines for example.
As businesses adopt digitized and automated solutions to improve efficiency and manage the increasing risk of the economic global market and with digitalization at the forefront of many business initiatives, it is important that your contract management matches the ambitions and strategy of your business. As your business moves forward digitally, automated contract software can streamline key elements and processes and provide the framework to simplify contract management and protect businesses with fact-based decision making.
By implementing this software, you ensure your business is adopting the technological advances and the best practices available that can optimize your business potential.
Interested in Automating your contract management?
Due to the modern advancement of currently technology, there really 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 if your business expands, you will already have the management system in place to deal with any expansion of your enterprise. Simplifying the contract process with document creation, managing commitments, better resource planning and electronic signatures really can make a difference to your organization, so if you feel this is the right step to help you successfully manage your business contracts, the contact us at Symfact and start your journey towards efficient automated contract management.