If you’re reading this blog post, you probably realize that your company could benefit from using a contract management software. And if you’ve already started looking for it, you realize that the number of options out there is almost paralyzing. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few tips to get you started on narrowing down your focus:
1. Identify the specific problems you're trying to solve
There are many contract management software providers that cater to all different phases of a contract’s lifecycle. Some focus on specific areas like post-execution and include features for storage, reporting, notifications, or compliance, while others focus on pre-execution and include tools for authoring, negotiation, signature, and so on. A handful of solutions focus on the entire lifecycle of the contract and include features to do it all. Not surprisingly, the solutions that focus on the entire lifecycle of the contract are more expensive, more complicated to implement, and not as straightforward to use. For this reason, you should identify the specific problems you’re trying to solve. Maybe you need alerting to notify you of expiration dates that are approaching or when contract deliverables are due. Maybe you need to run reports for auditing purposes. Maybe you need a system that can facilitate negotiation and signature. If you don’t isolate your company’s specific problems up front, you could spend a lot of unnecessary time vetting solutions that don’t meet your needs or vetting solutions that are more complicated and expensive than your needs necessitate.
2. Determine who will use the contract management system most frequently and understand the tasks they need to accomplish when using it.
As important as deciding what your contract management priorities are as a company is determining who will be using the system on a day-to-day basis and what they need to accomplish. If you find a solution that can run reports that the CFO loves but that takes an arduously long period for contract managers to load contract data into, it’s probably not the most efficient solution for your company. In order for a contract management system to add value to your company’s process (and to guarantee that your employees will use it), it needs to be a time-saver and user-friendly for those using the software frequently.
3. Decide upfront how much time your company can realistically devote to implementation.
How much time can your team spend implementing a system? The more complicated the system, the more complicated the implementation. We know companies that have bought complex systems, only to abandon them at implementation and then purchase something simpler, inevitably wasting time and money. Be clear on your bandwidth to implement and ask questions on the time commitment necessary to implement your system of choice. If you find a perfect solution but never fully implement it because it was too time-consuming, it wasn’t a good choice after all.
4. Determine your budget.
Contract management software prices run the gamut. Some solutions can be subscribed to and implemented for $4,000-$5,000 a year while others cost $30,000-$40,000, and others even more. Determining a specific budget will help you narrow down your focus to providers that offer services in that range. Again, the more complicated software tends to be more expensive, so be sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need.
5. Reference third-party review sites.
There are a whole slew of third-party review sites that provide excellent resources for vetting contract management software. These sites contain feature overviews, reviews of the product by actual users, and generally contain a simple way to compare across providers. A few of the top are Capterra, SoftwareInsider, and GetApp. Spending a bit of time on these sites when narrowing down your choices is well worth the effort.
Hopefully, these tips get you started on the hunt for the right solution for your business’s specific needs. Good luck!