11 Essential Contract Management Software Features
By Karen Howe, Director of Training, Contract Logix
Frustrated by managing your contracts with shared folders, spreadsheets or filing cabinets? Are you considering contract management software to improve your process and make life easier? Here’s my list of “must-have” features you should be looking for when considering the purchase of a contract management software solution.
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# 1 A Centralized, Intelligently Organized Contract Repository
Having all your contracts stored electronically in a central database is essential to any good contract management system. Users need quick and easy access to contracts and contract data and will appreciate solutions that give them a variety of ways to view information – at the contract, organization, contact, document or task level. Spreadsheets and shared document folders just can’t compete with this kind of flexibility.
#2 Powerful Search Capabilities
Having all your contracts in a central database won’t do you much good if you can’t find anything. Look for systems that provide search tools like Contract Logix’s full-text search enhanced by automatic OCR scanning and indexing of documents and our Quick Search feature. Simply type whatever you’re looking for in the field – a company name, a legal term, even a word or phrase inside a document – and get fast results, then click to open that record or document.
#3 Automated Alerts and Alert Rules
Unless missing important deadlines and contract obligations doesn’t bother you, the next feature you should be looking for is automated alerts on key dates. With Contract Logix, users can set up alerts based on any date field captured in the contract. A simple-to-use form provides options such as when to start sending the alerts (before, on or after the date), how often to send them, and what format they take (emails, in-system notices, or both). For dealing with standard notice periods (say for example a 90-day advance notice for all expiring Maser Service Agreements) you can set up an alert rule and let the system do the rest.
#4 Reporting and Dashboards
A contract repository contains a wealth of information, but in order to profit from that data and gain and visualize actionable insights into your contract processes, you need reports and dashboards. Contract Logix not only comes with standard reports and dashboards but enables users to create their own reports. By selecting the relevant columns of data then filtering, sorting and grouping, users can generate a report in no time, export the results, and even save the report to their personal reports tab so they can run it whenever they want.
#5 Role-based Security
A centralized contract repository is essential, but just because all your contracts live together in the same electronic storage location doesn’t mean all users should have equal access to all contracts. Nor should all users be able to perform the same tasks. Look for the ability to define your own custom security roles. A truly flexible system will enable you to configure access and permissions in a variety of ways. For example, with Contract Logix you can create an unlimited number of roles, each role defining which types of contracts and features users can access. You can then place that role within your organizational hierarchy, effectively restricting users to contracts owned by the sub-organization to which their role belongs.
#6 Dedicated Functions for Managing Common Contracting Tasks
As an example, Contract Logix has an Amendment menu option (for when some of the original terms, rates or dates need to be modified) which automatically creates a new version of the contract and saves the previous version for reference. Users can access any version of the contract from the version history list. The key here is ease-of-use and taking the guesswork out of handling everyday tasks.
If you’re looking for a complete Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution, you should add the following features to your wish list.
#7 Contract Clause and Template Libraries
Speed up the creation of contracts with pre-approved language and templates that enable non-legal staff to generate contracts quickly and easily, freeing your legal staff to handle more complex legal matters.
#8 Redlining, Approvals and Collaboration Tools
Streamline the negotiation and review process. Look for track changes capabilities, automatic versioning, real-time contract collaboration features like concurrent editing, comments and chat, and the ability to share for review and approval by third parties.
#9 Electronic Signature
The benefits are clear when you go paperless. You gain control of your entire contract process because you can track your contracts all the way from initial draft, through the review and approval cycle, to final execution, using system tools. Look for integration with leading e-signature providers.
#10 Contract Request and Intake
You shouldn’t have to rely on email to request new contracts or submit existing ones. With Contract Logix you can design your own custom request forms that anyone with minimal training or limited system access can use to submit requests or upload existing documents. A single click converts the request to a contract.
#11 Managing contract process through workflows. Not only do workflows ensure that all steps are being properly followed, they will also enable you to track each contract throughout its pre- or post-execution phase. Contract Logix provides a simple to use visual workflow designer with options for defining multiple steps, assigning tasks, sending notifications and conditional branching.
There are many features to consider when looking for contract management software. Whether you’re seeking a basic contract repository or a complete lifecycle management solution, the items I’ve listed here should give you a starting point when evaluating software to fit your organization’s needs. Let’s start a conversation today.