Which Contract Management Software Do You Need?
According to the Journal of Contract Management, 71% of companies have difficulties finding at least 10% of their contracts. The software has become one of the most important advances in business technology because it can ensure quickly and efficiently that the maximum value is extracted from contracted relationships. It can also provide protection against contract-related disputes and claims.
Up until recently, the contracting process has been manual and inefficient. The cycle of a contract's drafting to its final signing normally takes 4-7 days. With solution software it takes just minutes.
Any company with more than 10 contacts would benefit from a basic software program. Consider it one of the cheapest forms of insurance you can buy.
All this software from the most basic up allow companies to store copies of executed contracts, control access to stored contracts, provide a search engine, and automatically send email notifications about key dates in the contracts. The most efficient can give detailed audit trails, support multiple document formats, ensure that reviewers are working off the same document version – especially important during re-drafts and negotiations – and can be used to create alerts and more sophisticated reports.
Even more useful is when the software includes contract assemble solutions that can draft a contract in the fraction of the time, as well as a contract clause library that allows legal clauses to be reused from other existing contracts.
When evaluating contract management solutions, it is important to first clearly understand your business requirements and determining. What is it that you want the contract management solution to do for your business? Are you looking for a convenient repository with basic milestone alerts, or looking to extract greater value from your contracts and align the management with your overall business strategy?
Fully understanding your immediate, medium-term and long-term needs and implications will influence the type of contract management solution that you use.
The market is comprised of over 50 vendors that can be divided into five categories: Pure Play solutions, Microsoft SharePoint based solutions, ERP / eProcurement suite solutions, Document Assembly-based solutions and ECM based solutions. The largest suppliers are Gartner, Forrester Research, and IACCM. Unfortunately a lot of the information and opinion available on the internet is biased marketing, and you may wish to talk to an independent analyst or advisor.
It might also be worth contacting contract management professional bodies and association for advice such as IACCM (the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management), NCMA (the National Contract Management Association), and CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.) It It is also prudent to review independent analyst research. The Gartner 'Market Scope for Enterprise Contract Management' is a 23-page report reviewing a dozen contract management providers across a variety of criteria. 'The Forrester Wave: Contract Life-Cycle Management' reviews 13 different software providers over 110 criteria.
There is a very useful directory at capterra.com that allows you to search for systems that meet your specific requirements. Most provide a few trial period in which you can test the software. Spending time now looking for the perfect solution will save you and your company time and money in the future, and safeguard future work and investments.