There’s much more to a contract than just signing and filing. From tweaking a standard template to contract review, storage, and even incorporating data from other departments, it’s a multifaceted process. Contract lifecycle management (CLM) software takes in the entire spectrum of tasks, simplifying and standardising the contract process at every stage. With time and money so precious, it’s important that these things are done right, particularly for growing businesses. Here are four of the most important features of CLM:
Central agreement repository
When businesses are small, document storage can be relatively simple. As a company grows, though, it can be increasingly difficult to keep things organised without a dedicated system. DocuSign research suggests that two thirds of respondents were chasing up completed contracts at least once a week, and 20% needed to find them daily. If the required document is tough to track down, it’s company time and money that’s being wasted. And it doesn’t have to be.
A central agreement repository is an accessible archive of completed contracts. Rather than a computer folder full of contract files (or, even worse, physical copies), a central agreement repository is a tidily organised digital directory. With information tagging and powerful search capabilities, it’s easy to find the right document within minutes, and being cloud-based allows for remote access. Having a structured directory also means the ability to keep track of and automate processes that occur after a contract has been signed and submitted, such as reminders, renewals and other notifications.
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If your business deals with contracts on a regular basis, you’ll know that they are rarely static documents. Contracts can go through multiple rounds of revision, approval from different layers of stakeholders and, often, can require confirmation from many signers. DocuSign figures suggest that, on average, a contract goes through 2.9 versions and 4.4 approvers before being finalised. It’s a potentially long process that necessitates one source of truth — something which becomes increasingly difficult as this chain of revision and approval escalates.
A CLM, as a dedicated contract platform, allows for a robust, automated audit of each contract, keeping changes and versions organised. CLM also creates what is called a ‘living document’, which means that when a change is made, it is reflected for all those with access to the contract. It keeps contract versions organised, every stakeholder on the same page, and e-signatures means everyone signs the same copy of the contract, no matter where they’re located.
As a business scales up, manual processes become exponentially more time consuming. Rather than employing an ever-increasing number of legal experts, CLM software can automate many of those standard processes. For instance, DocuSign’s study found that two thirds of businesses are using spreadsheets and emails for contract workflows, while Microsoft Word and Google Docs are favoured by 70% and 49% respectively. A CLM allows for standardised templates, removing the manual copy-and-paste method that begins so many contracts. Across the whole workflow, digital files are automatically updated with the most recent version information, and the contract is able to be sent to its next phase without needing manual (and often confusing) email chains. Automated processes make it easy to keep up with which version of the contract is current, and reduces the amount of legwork required by the legal team.
CLM software offers more than just contract-specific functionality. As robust, cloud-based software, CLM allows for customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to be integrated. This offers merchants who are comfortable with CRM software like Salesforce the chance to make use of simple, reliable and automated contract processes without having to learn a new system. On the flipside, a legal team can access all the sales data it needs without having to contend with the learning curve of a CRM platform.
DocuSign helps organisations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements. As part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, DocuSign offers eSignature, the world's #1 way to sign electronically on practically any device, from almost anywhere, at any time. Today, over a million customers and more than a billion users in over 180 countries use the DocuSign Agreement Cloud to accelerate the process of doing business and simplify people's live. For more information, visit our website or call +61 2 939 21998 or 1800-841-231 toll-free from within Australia.