Your Contract Management Knowledge Center

Contract Processing: Paper, E-mail or Contract Document Management?

For those of you who have been involved in the negotiation of contracts, you know that coming to terms with the other party is often easier than your internal process of contract creation, review and approval.  It’s sad when you can agree with another party quickly and then get bogged down internally.   If you answer yes to any of the following, you have a contract processing problem:

  • Are your contracts getting “lost” on people’s desks?
  • Is your review and approval process taking too long because contracts are walked from desk to desk?
  • Is your internal review and approval process taking so long you end up starting the project before gaining approval and sign-off?
  • Are you spending too much time tracking down where the contract is in the review and approval process?  (who’s got it)
  • Are you tired of trying to figure out which Word version is the most recent version of the reviewed and changed document?
  • Are you spending too much time trying to decipher scribbled comments on hard-copies of draft documents?  (this is my favorite)
  • Are you spending too much time combining all those comments into one final document for approval and sign-off?

Anyone who works with contracts has experienced one or more of these joys of contract creation and execution.  If you are one of our clients reading this, many on this list will look very familiar since this list is a compilation of what we frequently hear. You will notice there are two common problems that need to be addressed; paper and people.  The paper problem is easy to recognize.  A paper document can be lost (an electronic document can also be lost but let’s focus on paper for now).  A paper document takes time to move from person to person.  A paper document is hard to modify (again, my favorite with the illegible notes).

The people problem is sometimes harder to deal with.  Unfortunately the people problem also can hide behind the paper problem.  If you have staff that claims to never have received the documents to review, or only just received them, then you might have a people problem.  If the same people overwrite the correct version of documents frequently, then you might have a people problem.

Fortunately, whether you have a paper or a people problem, by automating contract processing you can solve both.  With a web-based contract management system, you can route documents electronically for review, approval and signature. Yes, I included electronic signature, why do you want to start printing at this step if you can avoid it?  This eliminates the lost documents and gives you a real-time view on where the document is at all times.  Further, when you add in revision control, you know who has checked out a document and who has made changes.  No more overwriting files and wasted efforts.

At this point most people would agree that this can solve the paper problem.  However they might still think it does not solve the people problem.  The logic is that you can’t change people.  While that’s true, what an electronic contract management system does is to spotlight bottlenecks.  No one wants to be known as the bottleneck.  It’s embarrassing.  Further, when you have documented procedures and an audit trail, it becomes very easy to deal with personnel issues.  The power of automated contract processing is not just in the elimination of paper, but also in the formalization of your contract management process.

So what does your contract management look like?  Would an electronic contract management system benefit your organization?  If you think you have room for improvement, call us at (866) 367-3467 ext. 1 to schedule a free evaluation of your contract processing requirements.

Topics: Business Process Automation, Contracts Management