How to track important contract dates

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Contracts have dates in them for a reason. It is certainly possible to have a contract made up mainly of ‘evergreen clauses,’ which are essentially undated points of agreement but, even in those cases, a contract will be dated when signed and enacted. Unless specific circumstances dictate the need for an ‘evergreen clause,’ however, contract dates are advisable, simply because of the purpose they serve.

Contract dates – whether that is just the date of enactment or a larger collection of specific dates – set out the parameters of the legally binding agreement. They provide the framework around which activity can be planned and carried out. They create the terms against which performance and compliance can be most easily and clearly measured. This is why contract dates are important, and why it is important to keep track of them as part of Contract Lifecycle Management systems.

The tangible benefits of tracking important contract dates

When you are effective in tracking important contract dates, there are tangible benefits for your business.

  • Renegotiation and termination

Sometimes, contracts underperform. Without a clear idea of the important dates in those contracts, it becomes exceedingly difficult to analyze and quantify the performance of an agreement, and opportunities to renegotiate or terminate those agreements can subsequently be missed. The consequence of this poor contract management or a lack of performance reviews would be to leave your business saddled with legal agreements that are a drain on resources, rather than maintaining a well-managed library of productive contracts. Circumstances around business contracts are always shifting, and it is essential for the efficiency of your organization to amend agreements as necessary, in a timely fashion. The only way to do that is to track important dates.

 

  • Enhanced risk management

Keeping abreast of important contract dates allows your business to reduce the risk of costly contract disputes or legal conflicts. Being clear on the specifics of your obligations and requirements – particularly delivery dates – increases the likelihood of those obligations and requirements being met. This is something that works both ways, for your business and also for your contracting partner. Tracking important contract dates allows you to reduce the risk of third parties failing to meet their obligation to your enterprise by giving you an opportunity to follow up. Where the contracts concerned are supplier agreements for goods that are essential to your provision of service to your customers, this becomes an integral part of the success of your operation.

 

  • Increased accountability

With clear tracking of important contract dates comes increased accountability for all parties. All contract stakeholders can see who is required to do what, and by when, and each party is responsible for meeting those obligations.

Each of these benefits contributes to a Contract Management process that is effective and efficient which, in turn, contributes to increased profitability for your business in the long term.

The best strategy for tracking important contract dates

When something is vital to the success of your business, it is essential to have a suitable strategy clearly set out and agreed with senior leadership. Tracking important contract dates is one such aspect of your operation, and it is a strategy that should be shared with all personnel involved in the contracting process. Communicating this best practice to all teams is the fastest way to ensure that risk is mitigated and contract performance monitoring is prioritized.

Tracking important contract dates can be achieved in four main steps:

  • Centralize documentation

To track any information contained within documentation, you must first know where those documents are located. Centralizing your contract collection is therefore the very first step in the effective tracking of dates. If your business has not yet fully embraced a digital Contract Management system, then your business contracts are likely to be scattered throughout your departments, with each department taking responsibility for managing its own agreements. This is a highly inefficient way of storing your contracts because it means that any work relating to a contract must first begin with resource expenditure to identify and locate the documents. Centralization eliminates that step, instead keeping all contracts together in one digital place.

 

  • Define “important” dates

In order to track contract dates that are important, you must first define what an important date is in relation to your business operation and the type of contract in question. These might be dates relating to deliverables, lease renewals, employment reviews and contract renewals, subscription or membership renewals, customer cancellation terms, or renegotiation conditions. Each set of dates to be tracked must be identified and defined as criteria pertaining to each legal agreement.

 

  • Catalogue your contract collection

Once you have defined the terms of date tracking for each contract, the contract must be catalogued according to those criteria. Using the definitions of important dates, teams must identify the contract metadata relating to those criteria and tag it accordingly. This tagging constitutes a cataloguing of the contract library in terms of important dates that need to be tracked, facilitating all the benefits that come with that process.

 

  • Automate

With the work of definitions and cataloguing completed, the actual process of tracking important contract dates can be automated. Taking the step to automate basic administrative processes is a significant cost-cutting measure for businesses operating around the world today. Tasks that would previously have consumed a notable amount of resources, in terms of personnel and supplies, are performed by technology. This frees up resources to be better deployed elsewhere. It also reduces the carbon footprint of the operation, boosting revenue even further. The automation of tracking important contract dates is largely achieved with automated workflows within a Contract Management Software package.

How Symfact gets the job done

The Contract Management Software platform created by Symfact functions as a browser-based design and uses Cloud technology. This is important when it comes to tracking contract dates, because it enables close and secure collaboration across departments, and with third parties, too. Permission-based access ensures that only authorized personnel can use the system, which means that all user activity is logged in an automated audit trail while full transparency is maintained.

Symfact’s Contract Management Software incorporates several key features that are a core part of the process of tracking important contract dates.

  • Centralized repository

The browser-based design of Symfact software is built around a centralized repository. This provides the tools necessary to gather all contract documentation together for the purpose of storage and the cataloguing of metadata. With this in place, contract data, including important dates, can be more easily surfaced and identified.

 

  • Customized filtration and reporting

With the contract collection of your business centralized and catalogued according to the needs of the business and the type of contract being analyzed, the powerful and customizable filtration function can be applied. Alongside the reporting facility, this can help to ensure that data tags are being used consistently and in accordance with the agreed metadata policy of the business. It can also form an integral part of the contract review process, which analyzes the performance of each contract. Contract performance hinges in large part on important contract dates being met, so filtration and reporting are key elements of the Contract Management Software in terms of tracking important contract dates. By customizing the reporting function, you can also create automated event reports, which ensures the necessary personnel are alerted to incidents of non-compliance on a timescale that allows for swift and economically prudent resolution.

 

  • Automated workflows

The final piece of the date tracking puzzle in Contract Management is the automation of workflows. This ensures that the right people are alerted to the right task, milestone or deadline at the right time, enabling teams to keep ahead of the contract lifecycle and approach the Contract Management process of the business in a proactive way. Every renegotiation point, termination opportunity, deliverable date and renewal date can be addressed in a timely fashion, thereby reducing risk of dispute or conflict, and maintaining optimal efficiency. In addition, the automation of workflows creates a comprehensive audit trail by design and default, keeping accountability and transparency as a high priority for your business, without the unnecessary and excessive consumption of valuable resources.

The high degree of automation in Symfact Contract Management Software serves to help your business ‘keep on top’ of tracking important contract dates, while also increasing efficiency within your processes and procedures. Streamlining the management of information in this way can allow for some restructuring of teams and departmental budgets, taking into account the savings made through reduced consumption of resources.

  • The core best practice element

Tracking important contract dates is a core best practice element of Contract Lifecycle Management and relies upon the clear setting of defined criteria. It is an important process for your business to get right, as it provides tangible benefits, but it is a process that begins with at the very start of the contracting process. Tracking those dates helps to mitigate risk and drive your operation forward, but it can only be successful when the dates are negotiated and set well in the first place. Symfact Contract Management Software provides exactly the kind of end-to-end Contract Management solution that is needed to get the job done. Contact Symfact today to find out more about how you can track your important contract dates.