February 1, 2013 by Tom Zeliff Categories: Document Management

Contract management presents administrative challenges to just about any organization, from initiation through renewal. For instance, when negotiating a contract, do you know if your sales team is working off of the most recent version? Can you quickly identify all contracts that relate to a particular service, sales associate or client? How far in advance do you know about contract renewals? Is there alternative or back-up access to your contracts during a power outage or following a disaster? With the combination of document scanning, document management and workflow automation, you can be more confident that your entire process is being more effectively managed, ultimately reducing your corporate risk.

Check In/Out Isn’t Just for Libraries

As the contract terms are being negotiated, using file shares and email presents challenges in determining which version is the latest. Document management systems enable approved users to check out a document and make edits. This locks the document so that only a read only copy is available to the other users while it is being edited. Once the approved user checks the document back in, everyone has access to the latest version with the most recent language. This prevents multiple people being able to make changes to a contract simultaneously and eliminating the dreaded question, “Who has the most current version?”

Process Accountability

Once the contract has been approved by each party, it must move to legal for final approval. Workflow automation provides accountability throughout this process, and can be customized for your individual organization. For instance, a sales professional may initiate a contract e-form that requires them to document both the contract’s tactical aspects (name, address, phone number, etc.) as well as the business aspects. The sales professional would enter a workflow to be approved by the sales VP (depending on the contract’s size) and then ultimately end up in the legal department after the business units approve the document. Staff can track the contract’s progress electronically, and make note of any changes that may be suggested. Instead of wondering if any action has been taken, the sales professional has access to the progress of the contract through the workflow process.

Findability

Once a contract has been through the workflow process and is approved and signed, the document management application provides even more benefits. First, you can more easily find the finalized contract. Instead of being in a file drawer, or having multiple copies in multiple file cabinets, it’s secured in a document management system. Second, most document management applications enable full text search capabilities, enabling you to find contracts with specific phrases, simplifying document retrieval. Third, management can have immediate and simplified visibility to view these corporate assets without having to rely on anyone to locate them. Finally, based on the contract’s date, you can establish automatic emails for internal and external distribution to proactively notify the stakeholders of a potential renewal.

Better for All

Document management is a natural extension for any contract management process. It provides accountability, streamlines creation and approval processes, and provides visibility into critical corporate assets.

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