Selecting a contract management software platform with the features you need can be difficult. There are so many contract management software providers on the market today that it can be challenging to know where to start. Simply identifying the stages of contract lifecycle management (CLM) is not enough.
Luckily, you can kickstart 2022 off right with the ability to narrow your CLM software selection by honing in on crucial contract management software features to automate your processes. To that end, here are eight essential contract management software features you need to embrace legal operations digital transformation in 2022.
#1 – Contract Request Process
Contract requests can be challenging – primarily when a limited pool of contract managers handle up to dozens or even hundreds of requests. Back and forth email communication for requests can lead to confusion and contract lifecycle bottlenecks. Additionally, it can be difficult for contract managers to source different contract types for requests without seamless communication with appropriate legal resources.
The Solution: A Dynamic Intake Form
A good CLM solution will offer user-friendly intake forms and dynamic questionnaires that help requestors choose what type of contract they need. A dynamic intake form can be designed with responsive fields that change based on Yes or No questions and connect to workflows and contract templates in the backend. In addition, they can indicate required versus optional questions so that your contracting or legal department has all the initial information they need in order to conduct the first review. Selecting a CLM solution with an automated intake form will save you plenty of time, reduce the number of back-and-forth emails, and help your contract reviewers better understand what their business clients needs from the outset.
#2 – Streamline Contract Authoring
Insufficient contract authoring processes for contract clause management often rely upon disorganized tracking of document versions, disjointed contracts and subcontracts, and – unfortunately – scattered contract clauses. These methods can leave your organization with contracts that are missing contract clauses, an overlooked pool of key dates and milestones, and decentralized contract lifecycle management.
The Solution: Preapproved Templates
In that case, you can select a CLM solution that supports merging essential contract data with preapproved templates from your highly accessible library. Choose a solution that also supports painless flow-down functionality. Your team can tag flow-down clauses and obligations to be included in subcontractor documents – in one central location. Comprehensive and numbered version tracking virtually ensures that the most up-to-date document versions are accounted for.
#3 – Embrace Future-Minded Contract Negotiations
Contract negotiations methods lacking an efficient process for collaboration with vendors, users, and stakeholders can cause a variety of issues.
Tracking appropriate contract clauses and sections to insert into a contract document can be a challenge when contract clauses are not maintained within a secure library, are not assigned conditions, and are not assigned to specific key stakeholders for contract clause ownership. Version tracking procedures that involve resources working on separate computers in disparate locations and saving files locally can yield misplaced document versions, edits, and changes. Key dates and milestones can be overlooked when organizations rely on back-and-forth emails. Contract signatures and approvals can be delayed without a centralized location in which to perform them.
The Solution: Seamless Contract Negotiations
Leading CLM software equips you with the ability to:
- Merge document data with clauses from your pre-approved library.
- Assign clause ownership – which allows a resource assigned to a clause to be easily notified when that clause is interacted with.
- Restrict external resources only to certain areas of the system that pertains to their processes.
- Use numbered contract document version control.
- And more!
These tools make the lives of your legal operations resources easier – so easily make your case for contract lifecycle management software.
#4 – Centralize Contract Approvals
Manual contract management procedures can cause problems with contract approvals because these methods often rely on ununified spreadsheets, decentralized emails, and shared drives. Delayed contract approvals can fail to meet business rules and regulatory compliance rules – potentially resulting in overlooked opportunities for time-sensitive discounts, pricing options, and special terms.
The Solution: Contract Workflow Automation
Foster a smooth and healthy contract approval process with a CLM solution that supports intelligent contract workflow automation, robust audit trails, and the power to approve or reject contracts with automated email notifications and alerts regarding pending contract approvals and other mission-critical tasks and requirements.
#5 – eSignatures
Obtaining signatures manually or in person can be highly challenging, especially when resources with signing authority are unavailable to sign. Contract signatures are arguably the most crucial aspect of contract management, but manual signing methods are outdated and slow. High costs for wet signatures and postage can decrease your organization’s bottom line. Additionally, signature bottlenecks can delay the execution of a contract.
The Solution: Electronic Signature Integrations
Esteemed CLM software streamlines your signature process with rapid and user-friendly electronic signatures. Your organization can cut send-to-sign time by as much as twenty percent with an intuitive document toolbox, various placeholder configuration settings, one-off signatures with an accessible document collaboration portal, and rules-based signing configuration functionality.
#6 – Easily Track & Observe Contract Obligations
Lackadaisical contract obligations management can leave your team at risk for failing to perform per the terms of a contract. Tracking contract obligations with spreadsheets, emails, and disorganized documents can lead to your team overlooking key dates, milestones, payments, deliverables, and more. This can leave you at risk for breach of contract, lawsuits, a damaged reputation, and squandered revenue.
The Solution: Organized Contract Obligations
For an organized contract obligations process, select a CLM solution that features automated key date alerts, task alerts, milestone tracking, obligation status reports, and configurable dashboards for robust contract analytics. For example, you can review dashboards for contract obligations data such as:
- Contract KPIs (key performance indicators) such as total number of open contracts, pending contracts, and contracts up for expiration.
- Contract key dates pending and who is assigned to contracts.
- Open tasks pertaining to vendor management obligations.
- And so much more!
#7 – Improve Contract Compliance
Contract compliance management can be a multifaceted process. Incorrect compliance management can result in violations of regulatory compliance rules and other business rules – potentially leading to lawsuits, citations, monetary penalties, and more.
The Solution: Contract Compliance Management
To avoid late fees, litigation fees, and delays, select a solution that supports comprehensive compliance management of ranging regulation types. Careful and astute contract compliance decreases risk and increases revenue while setting the stage for future contracts. Choose a CLM solution that simplifies compliance with OFAC screening lists, FASB ASC 606 compliance, and other regulations and compliance types.
#8 – Manage Contract Renewals
When organizations oversee thousands of contracts of various contract types, issues can arise due to error-prone, time-consuming, inefficient manual contract renewal processes. This can increase risk and decrease opportunity realization. Without a strong contract renewal process in place, your organization can miss renewal dates and – thus – miss out on valuable opportunities
The Solution: Automated Contract Renewal Notifications
Button up your contract lifecycle neatly and successfully with enhanced contract renewals. Leading contract software solutions support automated reminders and calendar alerts for renewal opportunities. You can also leverage a secure and web-enabled repository for contracts up for renewal. Additionally, you can utilize robust audit trails for renewal status changes throughout the life of a contract. Contract analytics tools can provide critical insight into contract renewal benefits. Rapid electronic signatures can automate the signing of agreements set for renewal.
Get Started With Enhanced CLM Software
To successfully tackle the complex steps involved with contract lifecycle management, you will need to be equipped with a CLM solution that has these 8 features that support centralizing and simplifying the stages of the contract lifecycle.
CobbleStone Contract Insight is an award-winning CLM software solution that leading contract professionals from various industries have trusted for over 20 years and counting. CobbleStone® has all of the features mentioned above and more so that you can tackle the contract lifecycle with confidence. With mission-critical and convenient integrations, an expansive partner network, acclaim for users and business analysts alike, and a steady embrace of digital transformation, it’s no wonder CobbleStone is selected every year by organizations looking to positively transform contract lifecycle management.
Book a free demo of CobbleStone Contract Insight today to learn more!