Managing tasks and responsibilities associated with tens of thousands – if not more – contracts is, by nature, painstaking work due to complexities within contracts, coordination that must exist between teams and external parties, and a host of other factors. According to research, 78 percent of contract managers say they are under increased pressure to reduce contract-related costs. Additionally, contract managers must often contend with contract inconsistencies, a cumbersome contract management lifecycle, slow business processes, and other risks.
What these challenges all have in common is time. Slower contract management processes increase cycle time and contract-related costs. As the number of resources required to manage a contract grows, so can the complications. Finally, delays in contract execution lengthen the period before you start to benefit from your agreements.
There are some fundamental issues that slow contract management teams down. The good news is that there are also many easy ways to address these frequently-cited issues. Here’s how to avoid six common time thieves in contract management.
1. Reinventing the wheel on every new contract negotiation
According to the research cited above, almost half of contract managers say the creation, negotiation, and management of contracts is too cumbersome. Additionally, forty percent say the repetitive production of contracts is an ongoing challenge. If you start from zero with each new contract, you're not only failing to capitalize on the knowledge and successes of previous agreements; you’re also wasting a lot of time. One solution could be to leverage existing contracts instead of drafting a new document from scratch. For example, standardizing your contracts based on the types of agreements most frequently used will allow you to develop boilerplates applicable to different scenarios. Standardization eliminates the challenging of managing dozens of similar agreements with slight variations. Using contract management software to measure the performance of different types of contracts and contract terms, also allows you to optimize and improve your standard agreement types by identifying the clauses and language that lead to the strongest results.
2. Getting contracts signed
From printing to mailing, the act of procuring physical signatures can be a big waste of time and resources. E-signatures, on the other hand, are just as legally-enforceable as pen on paper. Even better, e-signatures speed up contract ratification by allowing instant and secure contract execution from any device.
3. Chasing after contracts for other departments
Centralizing contract management and storage can streamline your processes, but it can also result in added work. For example, contract management teams could be tasked with pulling agreements for other departments on an as-needed basis. One way to avoid becoming a contract helpdesk is to create a self-serve environment. With self-service, employees access the contract they need without having to go through the contract management team. Also, permission-based roles allow your organization to securely share highly sensitive documents. Permission-based roles, for example, enable you to grant access to specific employees via individual login. You can also limit access to documents based on function, so employees only see what's required for their jobs.
4. Finding the contract you need
With contracts residing in different departments and various formats, it should come as no surprise that a study published in the Journal of Contract Management found that more than 70 percent of companies can’t find 10 percent or more of their contracts. Know what that means? A lot of time wasted trying to track these documents down. Setting up a well-organized contract repository can eliminate this time thief altogether by putting all of your agreements in a single place. Better yet, features such as text-based search then allow you to find exactly what you need with just a quick search query.
5. Contract-related meetings
Across teams and organizations, meetings are often cited as a top time thief. According to one study, 37 percent of workers said at least half their time in meetings was a waste. While the problem isn’t exclusive to contract managers, contract management software can help to do away with some contract-related meetings by automating tasks like action-item reminders and the creation and sharing of reports. While this won’t do away with meetings altogether, improving the flow of contract-related communication and status updates can reduce the frequency and time spent per meeting.
6. Tools that aren’t user-friendly
Contract management software is supposed to make your life easier. But if your software is too complicated, you could end up trading one time thief for another. Nobody wants to spend time on the phone with technical support. Before you commit to a solution, it’s important to make sure your contract management software fits your company's needs and technical comfort level. Look for familiar usability features such as drag-and-drop functionality and folder-based storage structures. Don't forget to ask for a free test drive to ensure the software is as easy to use as it looks.