Why Email is not a Replacement for Contract Management Software

If you have ever walked out of a staff meeting with the IT department feeling completely clueless about what just happened, you’re not alone. According to a 2014 Fortune poll, 31% of senior managers feel that in-house IT staff explain tech trends “not very thoroughly” or “not clearly at all,” and 29% of them admit to “still have a lot of questions.”

This uncertainty about available technologies is the main reason why so many contract managers still rely purely on email. This is not only a suboptimal tool for contract management, but also one that exposes your company to unnecessary risk. Here are the 4 reasons why email is not a replacement for a contract management system.

1. Uncertainty About Contracts

If you rely on your personal email folder for contract management, you’re very likely to run into the following issues:

  • Lack of visibility of the latest contract version,
  • Uncertainty about variations in negotiated terms across similar contracts,
  • Manual repetition of tasks, such as inserting key provisions that are regularly missing from initial drafts, and
  • Doubt about latest pre-approved contract templates.

Additionally, how are you planning to meet the compliance requirements from Sarbanes-Oxley with your email folder?

2. Slow Contract Drafting

If you insist in relying solely on email for contract drafting, you’re most likely spending a large amount of time in contract drafting, clause comparison, and version review. This is because you are not taking advantage of features from enterprise contract management software that automate these and more processes.

As Rebecca Thorkildsen, Director of legal solutions at Pangea3, points out “teams of real estate attorneys in the retail sector may spend inordinate amounts of time abstracting large volumes of leases”. By leveraging a contract management software, those same real estate attorneys could ensure that only pre-approved templates are used and that the software automatically recognizes the changes.

3. No Check-In/Check-Out Feature

A major drawback of email as a contract management tool is the absence of check-in/check-out feature.

For example, imagine that you have discovered that a clause exposes your company to extreme risk due to the recent volatility of a commodity. If you want to prevent your product managers from using that particular clause, you can use the check-in/check-out feature to lock the clause so that you can work on revising it. Once you have worked with your legal department on updating the clause, you can release it back to the library of clauses for everybody to use.

Unlike email, when a clause or template are locked on a contract management system, collaborators with access to the clause or template will see that the file is locked for editing. Then, once the clause or template is released, collaborators receive an update as well.

4. Lack of Centralized Document Library

If you insist that email is a reliable tool for document storage, consider these facts about the document management services industry:

  •  It is valued at $5 billion,
  • Employs 30,760 people, and
  • Involves over 1,500 companies.

Also, from a technical standpoint, using your email as a file storage solution is bound to run you into issues, such as reaching data storage limits and forcing you to delete necessary files. If you keep reaching your email storage quotas, how are you making sure that the right files are kept and how are you documenting their location?

Finally, there is the issue of content licensing. If you are using Gmail to store your company’s documents, then you agree to Google Gmail’s Terms & Conditions, which includes this statement:

“By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”

Are your contracts in good hands?


Use the right tool for the right job. By using an enterprise contract management system for your contract management processes, you prevent having uncertainty about your contracts, delay in your contract drafting, doubt about clause or contract updates, and decentralization of contract files.