If you’ve ever slogged along on a slow old laptop while your lightning-fast new computer sat untouched in its box, then you know just how powerful a force inertia can be. When it comes to contract management technology, even if you’re already sold on the benefits, actually making the switch can be a whole other story. Though contract management software saves organizations time and improves communication, visibility and companies’ ability to reap the full benefits of their agreements, the actual process of implementing your new solution may seem daunting.
Fortunately, it’s easier to deploy contract management software than you may think. Some cloud-based contract management systems allow you to go from the login screen to fully up and running in just half an hour, thanks to intuitive drag-and-drop menus and other features that make getting started a breeze.
Follow these five easy steps to deploy your contract management software and start realizing the benefits now.
Step 1: Make a plan
Contract management software can be an extremely helpful tool for organizing and staying on top of large volumes of documents. Customizable features, such as permission levels for different users and notification and reporting tools, offer flexibility based upon your needs and internal processes and nomenclature. But that flexibility means it’s also worth putting some thought up front into your organizational needs.
From deciding which contract templates are being used and determining naming conventions and file/folder structures, to establishing workflow and assigning individual roles and responsibilities within the contract management lifecycle, a little up-front planning will ensure you’re organized from the start. The planning and preparation section of this checklist can help to provide a framework for your planning.
Step 2: Log in
If you’re using a cloud-based solution, there’s no software to install and you and users within your company can log on from any up-to-date browser. You’ll likely be prompted to set up a password and, if desired, to enable two-factor authentication by linking your account to your cellphone using a verification code. This is to help keep your account secure.
Step 3: Set up your classification system
Some contract management systems use features such as tagging and templates to make searching and reporting faster and easier. Tags allow you to more efficiently track information such as renewal dates and/or whether an agreement auto-renews, relevant department, sales region and other details. Templates are groups of tags related to a specific type of contract, such as employment or vendor agreements. By setting up templates, you don’t have to spend time adding tags to each individual contract within that group.
Which tags and templates you use will be informed by your planning in Step 1. But as these assets can be customizable, they may require some initial setup before you can use them.
Step 4: Upload your documents
Importing contracts to your new software can be as simple as dragging and dropping PDF, Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in Chrome, or using the upload button on other browsers. Once uploaded, files can be organized into folders and subfolders, just as they would on your personal computer.
Once you’ve created your folder structure, files can be uploaded directly into the desired folder; you can even import whole folders from a SharePoint or your computer using the drag and drop function. You can add tags and set up notifications as you upload, or go back and add this information later.
You don’t have to upload your whole backlog of existing contracts to get started – if desired, you can start by uploading active contract templates and migrating over executed contracts over time.
Step 5: Add and onboard users
Often contracts need to be shared across roles and departments, requiring various stakeholders to be able to read and/or download documents. But not all users may require the same access level to the full contract database. This is where adding users and configuring permission roles to the platform comes in.
You can add new users by entering their email and selecting a permission level that reflects how the individual will be using the contract management system and which documents they will need to access. Permission roles can be customized or you can use preset ones such as administrator, view only or download access.
Compliance requires users to have an understanding of both the tools and workflow, so make sure you communicate to all stakeholders about changes to your organization's approach to contract management. As you bring new users onto the platform, make sure they’re familiar with the functionalities of your new software, as well as any new contract management processes you will be using. These training videos and FAQs can help make onboarding easier.