Contract Management As It Should Be

Contracts are the lifeblood of any organization, and the key to getting business done. Organizations large and small have countless active contracts at any given time, with terms and obligations to monitor and risk to mitigate. So, how are all of these businesses storing and managing their contracts? The truth is, most aren’t—even if they think they are. Some companies have “legacy” contract management systems consisting of a series of filing cabinets in which hard-copy agreements collect dust in folders labeled ineffectively by the name of the counterparty or deal. Typically, these are forgotten until it’s time to dust them off because of a dispute, a renewal, or for disposal under a records retention policy.

A more modern system may use the digital equivalent of the file folder: a hierarchy of folders on a local drive in Microsoft® Outlook or SharePoint, or perhaps a cloud storage tool like Dropbox or Box that captures all contractual documents. In most cases, contracts are created using Microsoft Word templates and shared over email for collaboration, markup, and negotiation. In the worst cases, old contracts are unearthed and re-purposed for the new agreement. Once completed, the basic details of the contracts—such as business names, execution and expiration dates, and key terms—are entered into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to track.

But in terms of actual utility, these tools provide little more than storage—and opaque storage at that. Lawyers and business leaders can’t use these static data repositories for anything more complex than basic queries. It’s the data equivalent of the mythical Bermuda Triangle: you can certainly shove all your data into this quagmire of a filing system, but given the perfect storm of disorganization and opacity within it, coupled with the lack of taxonomy and functional searchability, you might never find your contract again. In addition, these so-called systems offer virtually no opportunity for meaningful analysis of contract terms and associated data, meaning risk isn’t tracked and value is missed.

Don’t resign yourself to wandering about in the nightmare of contracts. It’s time to extricate yourself from the confusion with a proper contract management system. Read this whitepaper to learn about the benefits of modern contract management solutions and how many organizations are utilizing these systems to gain competitive advantage.

Thomson Reuters

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