How to choose a contract management solution

Instagram Story – 19

All businesses and organizations rely on contracts, they form the basis for all business. If your business manages a large number of contracts, then there is often a huge reliance and strain on manual resources for the management of those contracts throughout the lifecycle.

Because a contract lifecycle needs continuous monitoring and analysis of data to gain the best value, performance and profitability of the contract, manual contract management systems and the resources need are often inadequate for this task. This is especially prevalent if a business is based on a strategic model that relies on a larger number of vendors for support and services and as such, has a larger number of complex contracts.

This can put your business at an increasing amount of risk. Although business will never be risk-free, with a good strategy and the framework in place to support it, businesses can make the most of high-growth strategies and business expansion, whilst improving current contracting processes, and reducing the risk of negative outcomes. Therefore, to support your business, implementing a digital, automated contract management solution is highly recommended to help protect key areas of your business and to minimize the risk during current contract lifecycles and during future growth.

If your business is looking to improve your contract lifecycle management and reduce the risk caused by manual processes, by either implementing automated features, or with a full integrated business contract management solution, then you may need some help on which is the right software for you.

Efficient contract management can make a noticeable difference for businesses and organizations looking to improve productivity and gain control of their contract lifecycles, so we have created a guide of things to consider when choosing a contract management solution.

Determine your business requirements

Identifying the key areas where you could make improvements is necessary before you start looking for contract management software solutions. It is best practice to go through your entire contract management procedures and processes and list every issue, pain point and bottleneck, as well as highlighting any siloed departments, or areas during the contract lifecycle using a large amount of time and resources.

This allows you to assess your business needs and requirements and will help you decide on the key elements and functionality you require from your contract management software to improve your contract lifecycles and overall governance and management.

Identify the right platform

Most contract management providers will focus on one of two phases of management. There are available platforms that concentrate on simply contract creation and document management, so if the early phase of the contract lifecycle is where you are finding the most issues within your business, or the administration of documents and information is taking up valuable time and resources, then this may be a good option for you. The second option is what is called end-to-end contract management. This full lifecycle platform has integrated contract management functionality, from contract creation and electronic signature features to full automation, metric tracking, and workflows. This is a more dedicated solution for businesses that want to streamline their entire contract management process.

There are many phases of contract management that can benefit from the integrated features in contract management software, both in the early phases and throughout the entire contract lifecycle. But by having and end-to-end system in place, not only does it allow for better mitigation of risk,  improves visibility and communication between the parties involved in the contract, but the software can be used from the initial stages of the contract process by helping improve the assessment of third parties for risk and creating risk profiles before the authoring of contracts even begins.

By effectively using the contract management platform your business needs, either as a whole or as part of your contract lifecycle management structure, you can allow for better resource planning as your business moves forward.

Key features & functionality

If you have decided on an end-to-end, full lifecycle platform, then you may be wondering what key features and functionality you need to look for in potential contract management software.

There are many contract management software options out there, and each provider will have their own individual toolkit as part of their software product, so to help, we have listed some of the features and functionality you should be considering when looking at implementing a new solution.

  • Risk assessment and management capabilities
  • Clear and interactive dashboards
  • Configuration and integration abilities
  • Search and tagging tools
  • Auditing suites including tracking and reporting tools
  • Notification and alert features
  • Permission based access
  • Data security and permissions
  • Support

You may be thinking why not just utilize or expand on your current CRM or ERP systems? Some software providers, such as Symfact, offer contract lifecycle management software that can integrate with a range of different systems and software. Thanks to cross-platform open API architecture, existing tools and processes that are being successfully utilized within your company can be retained and implemented in the new contract management system. For example, Symfact’s contract management software can be integrated into existing ERP systems and you can also configure the software, so you implement only the features your business most requires. This makes it a useful and cost-effective solution for successful contract management. However, CRM systems on their own will not usually match the functionality available from a full lifecycle platform.

Costs & ROI

For any business, Contract Management Software is a big investment. Businesses and enterprises may be concerned about the ROI and the financial outlay required of implementing a digital solution into their current framework, but as technology pushes the world of business and economy firmly into the digital age, your business can take advantage of the financial benefits offered by improving overheads and containing your costs. In any case, before implementing a contract management solution, it is essential to measure the ROI and calculate the cost effectiveness of Contract Management Software to ensure that your business is getting maximum value from the installation. As well as how much you are willing to spend!

It is also worth considering how contract management software can help cut business costs and improve revenue:

  • For businesses with large extended enterprise, the spend visibility is an essential element to managing contracts and their value. By being able to ascertain how much you are spending on contracts on an annual basis, using the tools in a contract management system, you can achieve a greater efficiency, cut costs, and protect you from poor financial decisions.
  • If you have worked out how much the time and resources have cost for a current lifecycle when analyzing your business requirements, then you can reduce that cost by at least 25% simply by automating some of those resources and improving efficiency.
  • Contract management can give you a centralized data pool using the centralized contract repository and an automated system for analyzing your spend visibility based on that collated and unified data. From this you can access reports about vendor expenditure, draw conclusions and take back control of your spending.
  • During the procurement, negotiation and contract creation phase of a contract lifecycle, your business is not making money. By streamlining this stage using contract templates, a standardized contract language and clause library and eSignatures, you can reduce the time spent by your procurement or sales teams on each contract. Quickening the process can mean your teams move onto other sales, which can be useful during periods of quick growth. Improving the rate of sales improves your bottom line and the ROI of contract management software.
  • Missed renewals are often a huge financial pain point for contract management. By using trigger notification tools, your team is less likely to miss re-negotiation dates for poor value and poor performing contracts and will not let unprofitable contracts simply auto-renew.

Make time for research & testing

Once you have chosen the correct type of platform and ascertained the features and functionality you require from it, as well as how much you are going to spend on implementing contract management software, you need to start your research.

There are a large number of providers on the market, so it is wise to take your time and use any free demo offers to feel out the platform that could work for your business or organization. There are also several reputable comparison sites you can use, but it’s about dedicating some time resources to help you evaluate each platform’s functionality and whether it matches with your specific requirements.

Don’t forget to ask each provider what their regular support is like, especially if an automated system will be new to your business or employees. Although most contract management systems are designed to be easy to use, with clear dashboards and processes,  it can take staff some time to get used to using a different platform and system, so support can help smooth out the roll-out process.

Contract management software from Symfact

If you are considering an end-to-end, contract lifecycle management platform, then have a look at the software available from Symfact.

We provide a powerful, browser-based contract management solution to successfully manage and monitor end-to-end contract lifecycles. Every single process, from risk assessments and contract creation to contract renewals and offboarding, is streamlined to support productivity, improve performance, and increase business revenue.

Whether it is managing documentation, contracts, legal agreements with vendors or leases and licensing arrangements, Symfact does it all with its CLM software. Streamline your administrative tasks and approval processes whilst simultaneously lowering your overheads. Optimise your business processes to improve productivity, efficiency, ROI and maximise your business revenue. Make the contract management process easier with document creation, agreement, and approval, electronic signature, and commitments management. Using any web browser, you can keep on top of all your contract management projects and processes in just one single system.

We want you to work smarter, not harder. So, if you want to see what our platform offers in terms of intelligent capabilities, tools and functionality, please contact us here at Symfact today to try your free demo.