For companies that engage in high volume contracting, establishing an online contract repository is a necessity. As more contracts are added to a portfolio, organization will be crucial to keeping tabs on everything and staying sane while doing so. Obviously, an online repository serves as a centralized database, ensuring that the whole portfolio is safely located in one place, but it can and should do more than merely store contracts. Companies should look for a contract management solution with purpose-built features that facilitate oversight and ensure that they utilize the repository to the fullest extent possible by using it to track the following:
A lot of business contracts, if not most, are lengthy agreements covering any and all agreed upon conditions, potential issues, and consequences for non-compliance. They often contain a glossary, appendices, and perhaps even several addenda as the agreement is adjusted or updated. Although storing the contracts in a centralized repository makes them a lot easier to locate and review, it may not make sense to pull up the entire contract every time someone needs to check the document for a quick reminder on something. And, some employees may not need access to the full document and just a few pieces of information about the overall deal.
Thus, the contract management team should consider creating a deal summary template that can be filled out for each contract. This summary should contain a brief description of the contract, names and contact information for key parties, significant dates, and perhaps any unusual facets of the deal, if applicable. Then, the repository can have a designated folder just for these summaries, which will serve as a quick reference point.
Contracts always contain a series of important dates, relating to delivery schedules, payment deadlines, renewal and cancellation periods, and so forth. One of the benefits of using an online contract repository is that it should allow for the creation of alerts based on key milestones and important project dates. There is no sense in uploading contracts to an online system if the team does not exploit all of the features of the system to make the management process easier. Hopefully, the solution selected will offer customizable alerts that will automatically generate an email reminder when an important deadline is approaching. This ensures that deadlines are not missed and the project timeline is not disrupted.
Obviously, the key contacts for a deal could be included on the deal summary. But, if that is not a document your team would like to utilize or if there are a lot of people from several different firms involved in overseeing a deal, there has to be an easy to access list of those contacts and their email addresses and telephone numbers. There will undoubtedly be times when something goes wrong or is on the verge of doing so and reaching out to the other side will be crucial to prevent the situation from going downhill quickly. Therefore, it is imperative for contact information to be readily available.
This may seem like common sense advice, but a voluminous contract portfolio likely has a lot of things happening at once, including periodic contract changes, and thus remembering or having time to add contract-related documents as they come through may fall by the wayside. These changes may involve the use of an addenda, to add terms and conditions, or an amendment to the agreement, to change an existing provision to read differently. Of course, the financial aspects of a deal may change due to financing issues or market changes, so pertinent charts and appendices sometimes require a reworking as well.
Hopefully, when such changes occur, the contract management team is properly notified and actually gets a copy of the new or updated document. Once created and finalized, any such written additions should be added to the contract folder as soon as practicable to ensure there are not any management lapses.
Contract management is not merely an administrative function but requires strong analytical and problem solving skills, and important decisions often must be made under tight timelines. As a result, companies must invest in a solid contract management solution and take advantage of all of the tools and features it offers to ensure proper performance and maximal efficiency.