paperless contract management

Why Reducing Paper Use through Contract Management Software is Good

One of the many benefits of implementing contract management software is a reduction in the use of paper. This shift away from a reliance on paper has many competitive benefits, so it’s not surprising that progressive enterprises are increasingly moving to “paperless” contract management solutions.

Some Paper Will Still Be Used

Before considering the benefits, though, it’s important to understand that contract management software will not make contract management completely paperless. The term “paperless” is bandied about a lot, but true “paperlessness” is simply not practical, nor wise, in most cases.

In the American Bar Association’s online publication, Law Practice Today, attorneys  Donna Neff and Natalie Sanna discuss how going “paperless” doesn’t mean no paper at all: “Going paperless has meant going with much ‘less’ paper, but paper has not been eliminated,” they report.

They still receive documents through mail and fax, and these must be scanned in. “While a matter is active, scanned papers are kept in the physical file folder,” they explain. But after a case is closed, the paper is discarded, with only a few exceptions (e.g., signed wills).

Reduction Is Sufficient

Most enterprises will have a similar ongoing need to process and keep some paper. But automation will result in a substantial reduction in paper use, which will be enough to provide numerous advantages, including the following five key benefits.

1.  Lower costs for paper and storage.

Most documents can eventually be discarded once they’re scanned into digital format, and some documents will never need to be put on paper at all. Large paper expenses and rooms dedicated to file cabinets can be relegated to history.

2.  Increased productivity due to time savings.

With contract management software, all contract documents are stored in a central digital repository. This puts all necessary data at the fingertips of the people who need it, wherever they may be or whatever time it is. And because it’s digitized, the information is easily searchable.

In cases where there is geographic separation between the key people working on the contract, the time savings of contract management software is enormous and can result in quicker closings and higher closing rates.

But even when people are in the same office, automation results in time savings. People don’t have to get up from their desk and go look for files, which often leads to further disruptions and lost productivity.

3.  Increased security of sensitive information.

Worries about the security of online data — even data stored on the cloud — are unfounded. In fact, contract management system provides greater security than paper ever could. With contract management software, an enterprise can add several layers of security to guard against unauthorized access — a much more secure solution than the lock on a file cabinet. Also, paper-based contract management permits unauthorized sharing of documents, whereas software tracks all sharing.

4.  Consistency.

Contract-authoring features of contract management software help keep contracts from deviating from corporate policy or strategy, as well as from violating the law. The software’s routing features speed the approval process, but the software also alerts to changes and non-compliance—providing another safeguard against inconsistency that leads to costly errors.

5.  Integration with other business systems.

In a paper-based system, contracts are much like money stuffed into a mattress — they’re not being put to their best use. Once contract data is digitally assimilated and centralized, it can be easily integrated with other business software, such as customer relationship management, logistics, and accounting. The result is that the valuable business intelligence inherent in contract data is extracted and used to help ongoing operations and strategy improvements.