Contract management software provides a number of benefits. You gain insight to the status of your current projects and are able to know at the touch of a button which projects are behind schedule, or how many contracts are in progress at any given stage of the workflow. You’re able to route work based on who is available and delegate tasks like data entry and financial review while limiting the ability of those employees to alter anything relegated to the legal department. Contract management can also benefit your business in several other ways. However, not all contract management software applications have the same functions or suit every potential customer’s needs. Here are a few tips on how to pick the right software for your organisation.
There are a number of software design tools that let you add workflow automation to a document management system and call it contract management system. You need a contract management system provider that has been in business for a long time so that you know they’ll be in business next year when you run into tech support issues or need to upgrade the CMS to keep up with your servers. Nor do you want to work with a new company that may be brought up and shut down by its competitors.
Conversely, you may want to be careful of the biggest players in the market. The biggest software vendors have a reputation for requiring you to buy a full suite of software, only some of which you’d ever use. Another factor to consider is the technology they are using. Some of the big players have market dominance but run on nearly obsolete software. That may not work for you, especially if you’re using cloud services or want remote access capability they cannot offer.
A side benefit of preferring established contract management software vendors is that you can get honest market feedback on how easy it is to use the software on a day to day basis.
The value of support when you adopt a contract management system cannot be underestimated. The best contract management system providers have a wealth of online training resources and trainers available to teach your team how to use the CMS. You also want contract management software vendors who aid you in migrating your data into their contract management system at the right stage in the lifecycle and ensure no data is corrupted.
Some small firms charge you extra for this service, but you cannot afford to lose critical data due to an error in the migration process. Larger contract management vendors may offer migration services for free or a low cost if you enter a multi-year agreement with them.
Another factor to consider is whether or not you need customisation. A large contract management system provider may have a number of workflows they can implement, but they may not let you tailor their system to fit your work processes. Now you have to choose between altering business operations to fit the software or coming up with workarounds so that the workflow you implement fits your standard process. Or you can work with a vendor that can create a unique solution. An example of a provider that does allow this is Four.co.uk, as they create solutions with tailored services.
Always define your actual business processes in advance of shopping for contract management systems so that you can either select a software system with a workflow that suits you best or identify ways to tailor it –online or offline – to work with your business’ established practices. This is where uploading standard checklists for someone to run through before signing off when they cannot follow a digital checklist could be enough to make the cheaper CMS system good enough for your application.
Cost Versus Benefits
We’re not going to say cost should be the deciding factor in selecting a contract management system. After all, a barebones CMS is barely more than a document management system, which you may already have. You should look at the benefits and potential cost savings of various features that come with a contract management system. If you can now add secure digital signatures to your contracts, saving significant time and travel of key employees, it may be worth it to pay more for that feature. If you’re able to integrate contract management system with your financial software, the ability to automatically track billable hours per project in the CMS and feed it over to the financial department for generating invoices or billing trust funds is worth a step up in price.
Choose a contract management provider that has been in business for a long time while offering the technology and support you need. The software should be easy to use, while the vendor should offer support in migrating your data to their CMS and tech support when it is required. Cost is not the deciding factor; the return on the investment and benefits relative to the cost of the software are what matters most. You should use security features of each contract management system as your deciding criteria, rejecting those that lack the most basic security features.