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The Stages of Contract Management

A woman mapping through the stages of contract management

What is contract lifecycle management?

Contract lifecycle management (CLM) software is intended to take the headache out of contract design, development, and execution. For legal teams both inside and outside corporations, the act of drafting, reading, and redlining contracts takes time and often duplicates efforts since everyone needs to review and sign off on the same documents any time a revision is made.

CLM software takes these issues and puts all the solutions into one convenient package. All the elements needed to resolve questions of drafting, to edit between various levels of a company, and to send changes in documents between various individuals can be found in a CLM.

Ironclad’s CLM combines auditing, editing, redlining, and signing features into one platform to ensure that everyone in your organization makes changes to the same document and that it ends up in the right hands with all changes in place.

Investing in quality CLM software allows in-house legal operations, trusted with driving efficiency for the organization and supporting business priorities, to minimize the time lawyers spend on non-legal or easily automated tasks.  

Contract lifecycle management stages of development: Planning

Good CLM software also tracks contract lifecycle management stages of development. Your software design lays out each step of your contract, from research into supporting regulations to determining company officers to plotting the timeline for the negotiations.

‌Ironclad CLM’s Workflow Designer provides customizable dropdown menus and fill-in text fields to give you flexibility with your contract outline.

  • Contract templates let you summarize the contracting request neatly, with dates and other options.
  • The Review Approval Roles lists who’s responsible for approving a contract or signature under what conditions, which is especially useful when multiple individuals in a company must sign off on an agreement.
  • Text blocks can be filled with larger segments of personalized language specific to your company’s contracts.

CLM stages of development: Creating and collaborating

Legal departments often find that in the back-and-forth of revising and reviewing documents, multiple copies of a contract or other document may exist. With different comments and revisions on each copy, no one can be quite sure which one is the correct copy, even with time-stamps and dates. Things can become more puzzling if copies are shared from Word to WordPerfect to Adobe and back, since the platforms may not read each other’s codes, and comments and edits get lost.

Creating a contact workflow with our Ironclad Editor is as easy as simply uploading the desired template, tagging any relevant fields that require attention from the requestor, and adding approvers and signers. 

With Ironclad’s CLM software, the essentials of contract management are only a click away with our Ironclad Editor. The simplified DOCX platform is easy enough for everyone to use and prevents cross-platform code confusion. The internal comments and ability to loop in colleagues for real-time discussions means that any questions can be managed at the time they occur.

The Ironclad Editor also allows users to accept or reject tracked/redlined changes and send them back to the proposer immediately, shortening the time between edits, and reducing the chance for missed changes and misunderstandings. The goal of our editor is to join all of your teams together in one unit so that nothing gets lost or dropped.


As the business world speeds up and more people work from home or on the move, companies need the ability to link their in-office computers with their employees’ home office devices, using the apps you already know and love. Without reinventing the wheel, Ironclad designed our CLM software to talk to existing applications and platforms to make your jobs easier. The most common programs all merge with Ironclad’s CLM software without any difficulties, eliminating the need for additional programming or IT management. Among these programs are:

  • Dropbox. The leading cloud storage service, with generous free document storage and trusted encryption.
  • DocuSign. A preferred e-signature system, and the one used by most courtrooms across the country, DocuSign provides signing access in over 180 countries as well.
  • Google Drive. Along with their other apps, Google Drive provides secure storage, file sharing, and a convenient video chat system.

All these systems, applications, and more can be utilized by Ironclad’s CLM software without fear of data loss or compromise. With this flexibility, users can be assured of their employees being able to work on contracts wherever they are located. The redundant storage features mean that documents are safely saved wherever they are being worked on, but the most current document will always be at hand in your Ironclad project manager.

Contract signature options

Once the contract is completed, it needs to be signed. There are a number of current options for signatures, depending on the type of agreement or contract.

  • An embedded contract contains the signature line within the body of the contract. The entire contract must be signed and sent in order to be valid.
  • Clickwrap or clickthrough agreements are seen in terms of service agreements and other online user agreements. These are seldom seen for full contracts but are common for point-of-sale agreements.
  • E-signatures or electronic signatures are created when a pdf document (which cannot be altered) is sent with a textbox or editable signature line. Services like DocuSign allow e-signatures to be done in conformance with court or government regulations.
  • Wet signatures are the traditional pen-and-ink signatures placed on a document. They’re sometimes required on certain documents in some jurisdictions.

If a wet signature is required on a contract, the document needs to be sent by FedEx or messenger for signing. Otherwise, an electronic copy of the document usually suffices. In very few cases, some entities, such as the Federal Government, do not accept e-signatures for some documents. Check your local and federal requirements.

Storing and sending the contract

To help streamline and expedite the process, businesses and courts have switched to electronic signatures and emailed copies of documents. The stages of contract management end when the contract is signed, but that does not mean your need for the contract is over. Once it is complete, it needs to be safely kept where you can access it at a moment’s notice.

With your contract safely stored at Ironclad, copies and e-signatures can be delivered to just about anywhere there is a computer terminal at the other end. Documents are signed electronically and returned to you or sent to where they need to go, securely and safely. Once we have the information, we will create a searchable database of your contract so that terms and conditions can be located whenever you need them.

Ironclad’s Data Repository maintains your contract and related agreements in whatever status you wish to keep them. It also flags any important dates, such as renewals, rollovers, and expirations. This storage can be accessed at any time, and from any location, and plays a critical role in your contract lifecycle management. The contract is saved in its final form, ready for renewal or revision.

The essentials of contract lifecycle management

For large businesses with large contract needs, Ironclad’s CLM provides a system for managing contracts with ease and coordination. We know that you need an easy-to-use, customizable software platform that integrates with all of the popular applications and programs in use today. The essentials of contract lifecycle management are easy to follow with the use of our CLM software.

Our Workflow Designer will help you outline the steps needed to plan your contract design, create the team workflow, lay out the Statements of Work and easily understood conditional clauses for acceptance and rejection, and review approval chains with simple drop-down menus and straightforward editing.

The Ironclad Editor makes collaboration a snap. Coordinating between various workers within the company is made easier with our internal comments feature and the ability to loop in colleagues at a moment’s notice. Redlining and editing can be accepted or rejected immediately, without the delay of email or chat. The internal editing feature means that documents that formerly took days or weeks to correct can be completed within a day or two and sent to the client for signing.

Keep your data safe, secure, and organized with Ironclad’s Data Repository. Our safe and secure cloud storage enriches your metadata and makes searching your stored contracts for specific details as easy as surfing the Internet. We can locate dates, times, and clauses by turning your contracts into your own database.

Let Ironclad help you with your contract lifecycle management by taking a look at our website and reviewing our helpful videos that showcase our products. We have what your business needs for all CLM essentials. Document creation, editing, and management for your legal department will be streamlined, and getting the documents to other departments and clients outside your company will be quick and error-free.

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