Organization is of the utmost importance when it comes to contract management. Contracts are often voluminous documents and frequently have various types of appended documents such as a glossary, tables, charts, amendments, and addenda, among other key data. To ensure that important deadlines are not missed and all performance occurs in a timely manner, it is imperative that the contract management team members keep a close eye on the many moving parts of the company contract portfolio. Here are five tips to help ensure your company has a well organized contract repository:
Set Up an Online Database
Ideally, the first step in the organizational process is to set up an online contract database. These days, there are affordable cloud-based solutions that are faster and safer to use than traditional hard drives or unsecure file sharing networks. When selecting a contract management solution, it is important to assess your company’s needs and requirements and of course any budgetary constraints. However, it is generally recommended to select a provider that has stringent data security standards and allows for unlimited users, unlimited data storage, and around the clock technical support in the event of any technical issues or glitches.
Establish a File Naming Scheme
Once your company identifies the right contract management solution and begins to create the contract repository, it will also be important to establish a file naming scheme for the documents that are uploaded into the system. Everyone in the organization should abide by the file naming scheme that is designated, as this streamlines the saving and locating of documents. It is foolish not to have such a system in place because there could end up being a ton of documents with identical or very similar file names, which will likely result in wasted time trying to find items or even misplaced files.
Create a Useful Folder System
In addition to putting some thought into how documents are named, it is also vital to create a useful folder system. For some companies, it may make sense to save documents into folders based on clients, the type of agreement, or contract timeframe. In some cases, a file may even need to be saved in more than one folder to ensure that all relevant data is where it is supposed to be. But, it may be necessary to create one master copy and then have additional read-only copies saved elsewhere. Ultimately, the more detailed the folder system, the easier it will be to stay organized.
Maintain Selective Sharing
To minimize confusion and the possibility of contract data becoming misappropriated, it is always wise to maintain selective sharing. To achieve this, there should usually be one primary contract administrator who controls the contract database. The administrator can grant individual users access to certain data and restrict them from others, depending on their role or need to know. In some cases, limited access may be granted, such as with the revocation of editing or printing privileges, and permissions should be revoked as soon as a party no longer needs to be able to review contract data. By keeping a tight rein on who controls what, it will be a lot easier to maintain organization of the repository.
Discard Outdated Items
One of the common reasons that a contract portfolio becomes a bit of an overwhelming mess is that companies are often hesitant to discard documents. But, there is no reason that outdated items should remain in a folder cluttering up the system nor is it necessary to completely delete things that are no longer needed. At a minimum, there should be a specific folder for old or outdated versions of contracts and their related documents.