Contracts are a critical business tool, setting out the terms and conditions which guide relationships with vendors and suppliers, employees, clients and other parties with which you do business, in a format that is recognized and enforceable by law. And yet despite the critical governance requirements contained within business contracts, most companies – 70%, according to a study published in the Journal of Contract Management – can’t find at least some of their vital documents.
There are numerous disparate ways businesses might store their contracts and other critical documents: using the age-old filing cabinet method, locked up in the desk drawers of employees involved in executing the agreement, on departmental share drives, and so on. What these methods all have in common is that they tend to be disjointed (and often disorganized), making it a challenge to access the contract or the information you need when you need it and decreasing the likelihood that a contract will receive the attention required through its lifecycle to yield its full benefits.
But it’s easier than you might think to effectively and strategically organize and store your organization’s full contract portfolio. Launching a document repository is a great way to securely store your important agreements, and at the same time improve the ease and efficiencies of many tasks related to contract management. Best of all, it’s easier than you might think to get started.
Here are the 5 keys to launching
1. Conduct a document audit
Before you even start to think about how to organize and structure your organization’s document repository, it’s important to have a good idea of what will go in it. However, the disorganized manner in which many companies store their contracts may mean you have to do some digging to fully and holistically understand the scope of your existing portfolio of contracts and other documents you wish to store. From NDAs to employment agreements, it’s useful to start with a contract audit, itemizing all of the types of
2. Find a storage system that will suit your needs
Once you have an idea of the volume of documents you’ll be looking to store within your repository, the next step is finding a storage system that will meet your needs. Many organizations find that a cloud-based online storage solution is the way to go because it allows employees to securely access the documents they need from any device at any time. As not all
3. Develop an organizational strategy
The crucial next step to launching a document repository is deciding how it will be organized. Even if your repository system has a keyword search tool, it’s important to have a plan for migrating and storing documents and not just add them willy-nilly as this defeats the purpose of migrating documents to a central repository. From naming conventions to folder structure, your organizational strategy should make it easy for you and relevant employees to effectively find precisely what you’re looking for within existing documents and to know where to put new
4. Don’t forget to think about your archiving
As you think about how to organize your document repository, don’t forget to have a plan for documents that have outlived their usefulness. Holding on to too many old documents can contribute to clutter and make even a well-organized repository start to feel unwieldy. As such, it’s important to have a plan for documents that are no longer in use. While compliance regulations may dictate how long you need to hold on to documents, you may want to create archival folders and outline the exact criteria for deleting expired contracts and other documents.
5. Start migrating
Now that you have