6 Must-Have Features for Your Contract Management System
It can be overwhelming to choose the right contract management system for your business, and sorting through all of their various features can quickly become a chore. However, choosing the wrong solution can lead to many more headaches when it comes to compliance, cross-functionality, ease-of-use, and your financial investment.
In this article, we’ll cover the must-have features for your contract management system, so you can confidently make the best decision for your organization and its contracts—one that will propel your business forward, not become another barrier to success.
We’ll also discuss where some contract management systems fall short in their promises, like with artificial intelligence, and what you should look out for.
Checklist of contract management system features
The primary consideration for what to look for in contract management software is how it can save you time and money. Choosing one that meets your needs is crucial, and purchasing the wrong one can cause more headaches than it’s worth.
Contract lifecycle management system features should include:
Choosing a contract management system without stringent security measures can put your company at risk. It opens you up to liabilities brought on by different factors like a data breach. You must ensure your extremely sensitive contract data is protected at all times with the right contract management features.
Make sure your contract management system employs various methods to ensure the security of customer data is maintained at the highest levels, such as being certified to SOC 2, Type II standard. The best practices include utilizing stringent data encryption methods and making use of the Google Cloud Platform for information hosting, as well as regular testing for penetration vulnerability.
You’ll also want to choose a contract management system that complies with GDPR and other data privacy requirements.
2. Useful integrations
Make sure your contract management system integrates with the applications you already use and love. The right list of integrations is crucial for encouraging adoption and minimizing delays while setting up a new system.
It’s best to find a contract management platform that uses a public API (application programming interface) for ultimate flexibility, and that it’s able to integrate with products your team uses cross-functionally, such as Dropbox, One Drive, Adobe Sign, and Google Drive amongst others.
3. Artificial intelligence
The promises of AI remain elusive in most contract management systems. The truth is that artificial intelligence is still a long way off from being able to manage complicated tasks like negotiating, but it can be extremely helpful in other parts of the contract process. AI is meant to automate mundane tasks, like sifting through data, to free you up to complete tasks that fully utilize your expertise.
Look for a contract management system that’s honest about the illusive promises of AI, and employs reliable technology, like Google Cloud AI, to boost your efficiency and save you time. When used correctly, machine learning can be used in the contracting process with minimal expense and maximum convenience.
4. Custom workflow design
Using a central location to manage all your contracts helps streamline the creation process. Some contract management systems offer exceptional workflow tools that keep everything organized, while others offer a disjointed mess.
You’ll want to look for a platform that values usability and includes features like a drag-and-drop interface to ensure fast, accurate contract building. It should also be within a platform that provides transparency to all parties, eliminating questions about current drafts and encouraging cross-functional collaboration.
Creating a contract workflow can be as simple as uploading or choosing a pre-existing template, tagging any fields that need to be filled out by the counterparty and adding approvers and signers—but unfortunately, many CLMs make this more complicated than it should be, creating more manual work than is necessary.
Ideally, a workflow designer would also help to ensure that all customer company policies and legal requirements are complied with digitally, without any human intervention or review being required for each contract. That’s because each potential clause can be reviewed once when the contract is created, then each contract can be fine-tuned for individual versions and parties.
Another benefit would be finding a contract management system that’s built in collaboration with legal engineers—experts in their subjects who assist in implementing suitable solutions for your company, so you can benefit from their industry expertise and knowledge, knowing you have the best and most up-to-date product on the market.
Find a product whose Customer Success team will develop a plan and work with you on implementation to ensure the product works perfectly for your needs.
5. Collaborative editing
It’s crucial to communicate with everyone involved in the contract lifecycle process, particularly during the review and amendment stages. Many contract management systems don’t offer an internal chat feature that makes communication faster and simpler.
Find a contract management system with an editing function that allows instant and seamless comments and revisions to .docx files, as well as making these changes easy to track. This ensures that each party has access to the most current version of the document, minimizing errors and making sure that everyone is literally on the same page.
6. A contract data repository
You’ve probably experienced that sinking feeling of dread when you can’t lay your hands on a contract you know was in your briefcase. A central repository to hold all contract data makes life less stressful.
Your contract management system should have an easy-to-access contract data repository. Not only are contracts and related documents stored on one accessible platform, but they can also conveniently be modified and tracked.
Reminders and auto-renewals can be set, obviating the need for unreliable human memory prompts.
A contract’s metadata contains basic information such as:
- Names of all signatories
- Value of the contract
- Type of contract
- Expiry date
- Renewal date
Having this structured information at the entire legal team’s fingertips means that everyone is kept in the loop at all times.
Efficient contract management software will allow the quick retrieval of all relevant data. Process data can be mined to find time-saving efficiencies.
A contract management system should streamline and simplify running your business. Convenience should be the keyword, allowing all participants of a contract to easily access, amend, track and sign off at each stage of the process.
Why Ironclad is the way to go
Ironclad is an end-to-end contract lifecycle management system that is dedicated to customer success. We provide multifaceted support with best-in-class resources like Ironclad Academy and our active community.
This is what a few clients have said:
L’Oreal is a brand leader in the cosmetics industry and has been in business for 111 years. The company was founded in Paris in July 1909.
“With Ironclad, you don’t have to review the same contract multiple times with different people. Ironclad facilitates the signatures, the review process, the redlining, and negotiating — it really is seamless.”
— Elyssa Dunleavy, AVP Advertising Counsel, L’Oréal USA
Mastercard is a financial services corporation based in New York. It was founded in 1966 and employs some 21,000 people.
“If we didn’t have Ironclad, could we extend a day to have 48 hours instead of 24 hours? Because that might be what we’d need. It would’ve been difficult without tools like Ironclad.”
— Anushree Bagrodia, Senior Managing Counsel & Legal Transformation Lead, Mastercard
The Fitbit health and fitness company was founded in 2007 by James Park and Eric N. Friedman, who teamed up to create the omnipresent wearable fitness tracker.
“Our business teams come to Legal for solutions because they know that we have the ability to create them with Ironclad.”
— Eric Lentell, VP & Deputy General Counsel, Fitbit
The Texas Rangers are a baseball team that was established in 1961. They have been a regular user of Ironclad technology for their team contracts, hundreds of which had to be amended 10 days before opening day in 2020 due to COVID-19.
“I knew Ironclad was a no-brainer when I saw its reporting functionality, access to the API, and the Salesforce plugin. That’s when I realized, ‘Ironclad is what we need. There is nobody else that can do this for us.”
— Katie Morgan, Director of Business Analytics, Texas Rangers
Besides their many satisfied clients, Ironclad received the award for Contract Lifecycle Management For All Contracts, Q1 2021 from the leading independent analyst publication, The Forrester Wave™ in 2021.
Their review of Ironclad reads as follows: “Ironclad shows strengths in the CLM areas that are most important to legal staff: contract creation (especially draft contract generation that is built directly on the Microsoft Word codebase) and contract optimization… [and] it has expanded its focus to other stakeholders.”
Technology continues to evolve, making our business and personal lives easier through online interaction, rather than having to make back-to-back trips to attend face-to-face meetings. Old methods, like emailing contracts back and forth, or the chaos that resulted when participants would work off different versions of a contract, have been eliminated with the advent of well-designed contract management systems.
When collaborators on a contract who have numerous commitments are able to access a centralized database at their own convenience, everybody wins.