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An Introduction to Online Contract Management

    
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Anyone who relies on a manual contract management process knows the struggles and frustrations that come with it. If this is the case for you and your team, you’ve likely run into one or more of the following situations that hampered your ability to do your job:

  • You can’t find or access a specific contract 

  • You don’t have the contract information needed to make timely, informed decisions

  • You spend an inordinate amount of time working through tedious, time-consuming contract tasks, which prevents you from focusing on more valuable business activity 

Moving to an online contract management process can help you address all of these common challenges and more. Below is an introduction to online contract management and step-by-step tips to help you get started.

What is online contract management?

Online contract management is the process of using a cloud-based platform to accomplish a variety of contract management activities, including contract review, monitoring, reporting, and other repetitive tasks. Agreements are stored in an online system that uses a combination of security protocols to ensure that a company’s documents are only available to those with the proper credentials. Once contracts are added to the online system, a series of helpful features allow users to navigate the contracting process more efficiently and take greater control over the way agreements are managed.

Businesses use online contract management as a powerful upgrade over physical file storage, shared drives, and other manual systems that often prove to be insufficient when:

  • Managing a high contract volume, 

  • Agreements represent significant value or substantial risk if not adequately managed, or

  • People in various locations need access to the same contracts and information.

Who uses online contract management?

Some of the most common users of online contract management solutions include corporate legal departments, finance teams, procurement staff, and dedicated contract managers. When selecting an online system, IT teams often provide input and guidance to ensure solutions meet the company’s technical requirements.

In many organizations, the responsibility of overseeing corporate agreements belongs to the in-house legal team. To reduce the amount of time legal teams spend fielding basic requests for contract details and information, specific individuals and groups (Human Resources, Sales, etc.) can be assigned partial access to the online system, so they can access, review, and execute the agreements relevant to their department on an as-needed basis. Thanks to permission-based user roles, legal teams can share some contract responsibilities while remaining in control of the contract management process.

Most importantly, online contract management solutions help your business remain in control of your contract portfolio under any circumstances. They enable users to save time, reduce contract risks and expenses, make more informed decisions, and move through the contract management process more efficiently.

Getting started

If you’re interested in finding and implementing an online contract management system, follow these steps below to start the process.

Get buy-in

Make sure your key stakeholders are on board before investing too much time and energy researching solutions. 

Determine who will be involved and affected by the new process

The contracting process typically impacts many individuals and departments. Talk to everyone involved to learn what they think is most important when considering a solution.

Gather all contracts

Whether you’re planning to manage all existing contracts online or only new agreements, you have to upload those documents to your online system to reap the benefits of the software. Make sure you can find and access all of these agreements so you can start taking advantage of your online contract management system right away.  

Determine what you need from an online solution

There are hundreds of contract management solutions on the market that focus on various pieces of the contract management lifecycle. Create a list of must-have features to prepare for your conversations with vendors.

Establish your budget

Your search for a contract management solution will be greatly impacted by the amount of money you have to spend, so establish a budget to help focus your search.

Identify solutions that fit your needs

Look for solutions that will make a meaningful impact to your contract management process and allow you to accomplish your goals as quickly as possible.

To read more about the benefits of online contract management, download Online Contract Management 101.

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