Core Features to Look For in Service Contract Software
In your research to find a contract management solution, you’re sure to encounter a long list of options. Comparing one software system’s set of features against a competitor’s can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Before you put contract management on the back burner, consider this: A successful software system can save your organization time and money, and improve security. What’s more, we’re here to slash your research time with a list of the essential features you need in an effective service contract software system.
Unlimited, Cloud-Based Storage
Contract management systems must meet two basic prerequisites to be viable options for a large organization:
- They must facilitate easy access to all documents, for any employee who needs it.
- They must be scalable as a long-term solution.
Convenient, well-organized contract access is probably the single greatest improvement many organizations can make for their contract management. Minimizing or eliminating lost contracts, and implementing a universal system, makes it easy for different areas of the organization to work together effectively on contracts. Cloud-based storage ensures that all users access the same version of a file, reducing miscommunication. Verify that the cloud servers are protected with thorough security measures.
Accommodating unlimited users and unlimited contracts is another non-negotiable feature. A large organization can have hundreds of users and thousands of contracts, easily exceeding the capacity of a limited software system. If the company takes on a merger or acquisition, the software needs to be able to handle that influx in volume.
Permission-Based User Settings
Contract management deals with confidential, sensitive information. You need a system that will allow easy access for anyone who needs to handle a file, but how do you simultaneously maintain security standards that protect your organization?
Permission-based user settings are a good start. Admins can assign the appropriate access level to each user. A lower-level user can be granted permission to view or edit certain files, but be restricted from seeing most of the documents stored in the system.
Additional security measures keep contracts secure. Investigate the options service contract software has to verify a user’s identity. Some options also configure contracts so they cannot be downloaded, or display a digital watermark with the active user’s information. Any of these measures will help discourage users from non-permitted actions.
Custom Reports and Tags
Each organization has its own preferred methods for processing and handling contracts. A successful contract management software solution allows organizations to customize as much as possible to suit their particular needs.
Creating custom tags to organize documents and preparing customized reports means you’ll be able to integrate the best practices of your current contract management system with the improved user experience of the new software. Service contract software is only as good as its usability. If it’s easy to implement and adapt to your organization’s needs, you’ll see a strong ROI. If the learning curve is steep, it’s basically a lost expense from Day 1.
Service contract software earns its ROI in a few ways. One is by preventing misplaced contracts. Another is by enabling contract managers, general counsel, and financial directors to take a more proactive approach to contract management. Automated alerts provide critical lead time to review contracts and prepare for renewals and renegotiation. Alerts don’t all need to revolve around individual contracts’ expiration dates, either. The organization may have natural points throughout the year to evaluate business and financial strategy. Save searches and set appropriate alerts to review employee agreements, vendor contracts, and business partnerships. Executives may benefit from having a recent report at their fingertips containing pertinent information that could inform strategic decisions.
Transparency and Support
These features are sometimes forgotten amid concerns about security and search options. But the people are just as important as the software. Investing in service contract software is a new business relationship in and of itself. You should feel like you’re working with a company you can trust. Ask about the kind of support the service provides. Do they offer troubleshooting 24/7? Is email your only option, or can you get someone on the phone to walk through a problem? How transparent is the company about their pricing, and their own operations? What is their strategy to respond if the service should ever be down? Clear answers to these questions can indicate that this is a SaaS provider that will treat your organization as a valued client.
Adaptability for the Future
As mentioned earlier, service contract software should have potential as a long-term solution. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wading through the same research and comparisons a few years after your initial purchase. Look for indications that the company is upgrading their software to fit evolving business needs. For example, what does the software offer in terms of electronic signatures? E-signatures are an increasingly popular option for many businesses. Does the software have built-in e-signature capability, or is it limited to a clunky add-on? How does the software company handle upgrades? Is the design of the user interface modern and user-friendly? Large and small details can provide insight into how committed the software company is to continually improve the products and services they offer you.