How to Streamline the Contract Document Management Process

Posted on
How to Streamline the Contract Document Management Process

It’s no secret – paper document trails can cost companies time and money.

An AIIM survey found it can often take 37 minutes to find one paper file. Human error in filing and retrieving, and document security are other concerns. What about confidential employee documents, legal contracts and other personal files?

Vendor-provided, cloud-based solutions are superior alternatives to homegrown or ad-hoc document management systems with data security and cost issues. Though it worked in the past, managing contracts with a PC or spreadsheet now comes with risks including data corruption/loss/theft, unauthorized access. Even something as simple as a lack of file naming conventions can be expensive in time wasted. Digital business processes have existed since the 1980s, but only today’s collaborative document/contract management software can handle everything at the enterprise level.

Your organization cannot afford to lose a single contract nor should it have to worry about the possibility of that ever happening. What’s needed – even if some companies don’t realize it, yet – is a fast solution that makes real-time status and other insights available over a busy workflow, with many users and contracts. Small and large businesses have found that collaborative document management software is the modern-day solution for improving visibility into managing online contracts and minimizing business disruptions.

With the latest tools, you can look forward to being able to:

  • Draft a contract using pre-built, approved templates. Clauses and the most current legal language can be included using drag and drop.
  • Initiate the contract process via automated self-service requests.
  • Spot changes to terms, causes, and structured/unstructured language in the negotiation process. You can even save different versions of a contract for later referral.
  • Store contracts in a secure central repository with advanced search functions.
  • Be alerted to notifications, milestones, and when changes are made and by whom.
  • Analyze contract performance and create detailed reports for auditors and executives.

A More Secure Process

Security is a major component of the contract management process. It is essential that unauthorized users can’t modify legally binding documents. Using e-signatures is helpful but by themselves is not enough. While an e-signature shows who signed the document and their intent in doing so, a digital signature is what secures the data and prevents tampering. A contract therefore becomes a secured, verifiable digital record that maintains its legality throughout its lifecycle.

Document management software continuously tracks all files. In fact, the more advanced the solution, the more compliance is achieved with corporate governance and contracting policies. It also ensures that opportunities to renew or renegotiate contracts don’t go unnoticed. You can also identify when old documents are no longer needed. What’s provided is a more efficient retention system.

A System for Process Optimization

Managing productivity and the approvals process organization-wide is also much more efficient. Authorized personnel on a given team can view contracts and communicate any need for changes electronically. Team members in different locations can collaborate on the same document, using a collaborative document management solution.

Contracts are legal documents found in nearly any industry where approvals are sought. With contract software, authorized personnel can sign off on a financial agreement, construction order, change order, invoice, etc. A dependable contract document management solution also enables one to sign contracts remotely, saving time and resources.

Individual and group authorization also streamlines the workflow. From information requests to contract approval and signing, the entire signing and filing process occurs in much less time. As a result, organizations can get to the revenue-generating work much sooner.

Contract Management and Workflow Automation

Collaborative document management software leaves no guesswork throughout the contract lifecycle. Not only are documents not lost, employees know when a contract is needed and can act swiftly to draft, edit, or approve one. In fact, the entire collaboration and communication process is streamlined.

Automating the workflow is complimented by features for catching mistakes more typical of manual processes. One can sign directly on a PDF or other document. Stored in a central repository, these contracts or documents do not get lost in a complex manual process. Also, the ability for administrators to adjust policies means the entire process can be compliant with your organization’s rules. There’s no loss of legality or compliance with the streamlined workflow.

Main Risk

Many document management solutions come with pros and cons. With document and contract lifecycle management solutions, the only major risk is choosing the best vendor. An experienced provider whose business is based around contract management systems can handle any level of complexity required by your business. Each specific contract can be accessed within the workflow. This is regardless of content or topic so users can write, edit, and approve the document using either a desktop or mobile device.

Conclusion

Using professional collaborative document management software eliminates the risks associated with manual contract management and other old-school practices. Whatever the cost of the solution, it is often recovered through a return-on-investment obtained through streamlined processes, time savings, faster approvals, and minimal human error. The result is also a more collaborative, efficient and reliable organization.