5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Contract Management Process

Contract management has changed a lot in the last two decades. Given the rise of computing power and the Internet, contract management has evolved quite a bit. Yet, surprisingly, many businesses insist on implementing contract management processes like old times.

So how do you ensure that you are using the latest industry developments and keeping up with the times?

Here are 5 ways that you can jumpstart your contract management lifecycle.

1. Keeping Your Skills Sharp

All companies want to become the leader of the pack, so-to-speak. Many achieve this by setting ambitious goals such as growing sales 25% every year. However, if you keep on this path, there will be a point that your team’s skills will become obsolete. If your company is growing 25% per year, your team also needs to become 25% better next year.

In terms of contract management, the IACCM is a leader in training and certification. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Therefore, it’s imperative that the staff managing your contracts is up to date on the latest trends and best practices. The IACCM offers options for both on-site and online training, so there’s no excuse for not taking action today.

2. Leveraging Your Data

The cloud was the buzzword from 2013, and big data is definitely the one for 2014.  Still, several business executives insist on trusting their gut and skipping any historical data processes. If you decide to over-rely on your intuition, you’re likely to end up a victim of several of business consultant Marshall Goldsmiths’s 20 Bad Habits for C-level executives.

It’s time to let data drive more of your decisions. So, take a look at the historical records from your contracts and compare which clauses worked and which didn’t. Unlike intuition, data like this can help standardize processes across large companies so no department has to “reinvent the wheel.”

3. Connecting Departments

It can be tempting to withhold information from other departments in order to maintain an advantage or act as a beacon of knowledge. While this may be great for a single department, it’s terrible for the organization as a whole. Key documents shouldn’t be isolated in file cabinets, instead they should be accessible by all staff members who need them.

Contract management software allows you to create several accounts that provide the right level of access: read-only, read-and-write, and system manager. This way, you’re not only connecting departments but also providing a leveled field that benefits the entire company.

4. Involving Your Client in The Process

Deep client intimacy should be a maxim for any business that has to deal with contracts. Clients are not all equal, and you need to learn from them as much as possible. An effective way to do this is by involving them in the contract management lifecycle.

As outlined above, a read-only account could provide a client access to the contract lifecycle. This allows the client to understand better what kind of input is expected from him, when is his input needed, and what are key deadlines. By being more involved in the process and using the same tools as your employees, clients will have a better understanding on your company processes and are more likely to contribute.

5. Scaling Your Systems

Many companies are still stuck in the mindset from two decades ago, insisting that there is no need to invest in software for contract management. The reality is that the more they procrastinate, the more expensive that the investment will be in the future.

For example, if you insist on running Windows XP for your enterprise, you should be aware that as of April 8, 2014 support from Microsoft has ended. This means that creating patches and workarounds is much more difficult and expensive that it was before. The same concept applies for outdated contract management software or, even worse, the lack of a contract management system.

Running contract management processes on paper or stand-alone Word documents leads to chaos and mistakes when you need to tackle tasks that can be done instantly through a professional contract management system. Examples of how this software creates efficiencies throughout the process are emailing renovation date reminders and accessing the latest pre-approved clauses from the legal department.

Takeaway

Keeping skills sharp, leveraging contract data, connecting departments, involving clients in processes, and scaling systems are the key ways to jumpstart your contract management processes.