Contract workflows often seem to go hand-in-hand with frustration. When we talk to customers at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as large enterprises, we hear the same contract management pain points time and again.
Do these pain points sound familiar to you?
- Contracts use inconsistent language and formatting.
- Negotiation requires weeks of back-and-forth emailing.
- Signatures come back late, smudged, or not at all.
- Agreements are hard to find, and even harder to access.
- Contracts are scattered across many different places.
- Missed deadlines keep costing you money.
- And nobody seems to have control over any of this!
If you’re nodding your head “yes” to this list, you’re not alone. Today, a full 71 percent of businesses have trouble locating their contracts. Most companies take an average of 20 to 30 days to create, negotiate and finalize an agreement – so it’s no wonder that 65 percent of legal professionals list contract-related admin tasks as their single biggest pain point.
Honestly, the hard truth is that most contract workflows are broken. Why? Because they’re not centralized. So in this article, we’re going to show you how to save time in your contract workflows, using solutions we help our customers put into action every day.
⛔ Problem: Creating new contracts takes time out of your workday.
Most people don’t keep track of the number of hours they spend drafting contracts every week – they just wish it was less. But research shows that legal professionals spend up to eight hours reviewing each contract that comes across their desks. If people throughout your company are creating contracts by copy-pasting language they find online, that’s dozens of hours of redundant work for your legal team every week, just to fix inconsistencies that could easily be avoided.
✅ Solution: Start from a library of pre-written contract templates.
Download some free contract templates from our template center, and customize them with standard terms and fillable fields, as well as your company logo. Upload the finalized docs to an online drive. Share them with everyone who needs access, but make sure only the legal team has editing permissions. Voila! You now have a company-wide library of contract templates – all consistently worded with legally binding language. Copy and reuse as needed.
⛔ Problem: Negotiation requires weeks of back-and-forth emails.
Some of us are so used to negotiating by email that we rarely stop to think how many headaches this creates. It’s tricky to keep track of who asked for which terms, in which message. People clog up your inbox with 10 different subject lines instead of just replying in the same thread. And that’s not even getting into the insanity of version control. One of our customers, Yates Construction, said email negotiations consumed “hours of every work week.” Sadly, this is not unusual.
✅ Solution: Negotiate inside live contract documents in real time.
Ditch the email attachments, and share each contract as a live online document, in the cloud. People with appropriate permissions can redline changes and respond to comments – all in the same file, in real time. Admins at Yates say this has been a game-changer, because “instead of five separate email chains with five different people, we’ve got everything in one place.” It’s worth trying in your next contract negotiation.
⛔ Problem: Collecting signatures is a time-consuming annoyance.
Collecting signatures on paper is way more trouble than it’s worth. For example, our customer Denison University used to have a hybrid signing workflow, in which people printed our digital files, signed them in ink, and then re-digitized them with a scanner or camera – which, in the customer’s words, “did not work well.” Even with e-signing, signatures can still be a pain to collect, and it’s hard to know which electronic signatures are legally binding.
✅ Solution: Collect real-time e-signatures in contract documents.
Try adding e-signature fields to your contract documents. Each time you share an agreement with a signer, they can simply click the e-signature field in the live document, and your contract management platform will show them how to create an electronic signature in real time. As long as you use a valid type of electronic signature, and include an electronic signature clause in your contract, you’ll stay in compliance with electronic signature requirements, and get agreements signed much more quickly.
⛔ Problem: Contracts are hard to find when you need them.
A full 68 percent of legal professionals have to go searching for a contract at least once a week. That’s extremely frustrating when contracts are scattered across many different locations and formats. For example, when our customer Meeting Street needed to find a contract in their legacy filing system, they had to dig through old hard drives and cardboard boxes – a process that often took weeks before they found the right agreement. Maybe you can relate.
✅ Solution: Store all your contracts in one secure database.
To put an end to contract search missions, have everyone in your organization keep contracts in one shared contract database. Contract lifecycle management (CLM) software is designed specifically to keep contracts organized, using folders, tags and full-text search functionality. Once you’ve got all your agreements in a single secure location, you’ll always be able to find them when you need them – even when somebody’s out of the office.
⛔ Problem: Missed deadlines lead to annoying surprise fees.
Without a central contract database, it’s all too easy for deadlines to sneak up on you. Research shows that most companies realize less than 50 percent of the savings they could be capturing from their contracts. These missed opportunities cost organizations 9 percent of their total revenue every year. Just ask our customer Sevita, who kept having to pay out contracts they would’ve terminated, except they didn’t know those agreements were coming up for renewal.
✅ Solution: Set automated deadline reminders.
Sevita put an end to missed deadlines by typing in each contract’s renewal date when they brought that agreement into Concord. Now, admins receive notifications when any contract is about to renew or expire, so they can respond appropriately. While it’s possible to hack together your own deadline notification system, it’s much easier with a CLM platform like Concord, which is designed to help you track many contracts in parallel. Set up renewal notifications on all your agreements, and you’ll never pay a surprise fee again.
With digital contract management, it’s much easier to create and negotiate agreements in a consistent way. It’s also a whole lot easier to find contract docs when you need them – and to keep track of deadlines, so you can avoid unnecessary fees.
And if you’re a small or mid-sized business, you can probably do all this for less than you spend on coffee each month. Yes, really.