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The 5 Contract Types Bogging Your Finance Team Down

5 coworkers in an office, looking at papers spread on a table

In every organization, no matter the size, contracts are a common cross-functional stressor. While they’ve always been a barrier to productivity, an ongoing increase in contract volume and risk—without additional legal team headcount or budget—has solidified contracts’ place as the biggest unsolved problem in your business. 

As someone on the finance side, it’s no secret to you that sorting through these documents can be clunky and isolating, and it can prevent you from monitoring spend and compliance across the company. 

Since the influx of contracts will only continue to increase, you need an organization-wide solution that gives you full transparency into contract data and empowers you to get the information you need without reliance on another team or a broken process. 

Do you commonly hear comments like this from your team?:

  • “We’re not able to use any of the other features of our current contract management programs because they’re so clunky.” 
  • “I’m tired of moving from one system to another when processing contracts.” 
  • “I don’t know which part of the process my contract is in.”
  • “Which system has the most updated version of the contract?” 
  • “Our contract management system is held together by five different systems, none of which are talking to each other, and it’s not scalable.”

You’re not alone. Thankfully, things don’t have to stay this way. 

How a disjointed contract process slows business down

Unfortunately, many finance teams write off contract management as a “necessary evil,” assuming there’s no easy solution to gain control over their business contracts. Without a clear contracting process, creating, signing, or referencing these important documents can be a source of overwhelm and organizational thrash. 

Commonly, each department will have their way of handling contracts, leading to confusion when documents are passed between teams, or must be reviewed by finance. For example, your procurement team might be using a system like Coupa, marketing may be processing influencer agreements via Hellosign, and HR may be managing a high-volume of NDAs in Google Drive. Each system may work well for each team on its own, but it’s incredibly difficult, frustrating, and a waste of time for finance teams to navigate multiple processes to find the information they need. 

Which leads to the major problem: Without a single source of truth, none of these systems talk to each other, so any changes, revisions, or updates are lost, causing you to be even less confident in your organization’s ability to manage contracts. Instead of having a contract management tool that performs one or two functions, you need one platform to house them all.

Your legal team needs help with a new process

At many companies, legal teams have gained the reputation of being bottlenecks, holding up approval processes due to the lack of reliable contracting systems across the organization. One Ironclad customer even said that “Legal is where dreams go to die.” This has become an accepted part of the contract management process—That contracts take a long time to be written or approved by legal professionals, and all other departments like finance can do is wait. 

However, the bottleneck isn’t usually in the legal team itself, but in the contract management process. Thankfully, finance professionals like you don’t have to be so reliant on this broken process and can become empowered to take matters into your own hands, regaining control of your contracts and the data within them. 

By helping your legal team implement a process that includes appropriate guardrails, your organization can help every department become self-sufficient in their contracting needs, while still maintaining compliance.

By rethinking your contract management process, you can control your organization’s top five most-implemented contracts and beyond. 

1. Non-disclosure agreements (NDA)

Non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs,  are created to keep your organization and its information safe, so it’s no wonder that having an inconsistent process for managing these contracts can be anxiety-provoking. One lost revision to the contract or a lack of updated information could cause a huge headache for your organization in the future. The good news is that there’s another way to manage NDAs that can give you and your peers the peace of mind you deserve. 

Using contract lifecycle management software creates one single source of truth for your contracts that you can trust. This means you’ll always know you’re sending the current version of your NDA to a counterparty, and you’ll be updated every step of the signing process, ensuring no contract is lost in limbo. 

Think of it like having an extremely organized person on your team who is fully dedicated to making sure your contracts are managed perfectly, and also has an unlimited capacity for what they can handle. 

2. Vendor agreements

Vendor agreements define the relationships you have with external parties, so it’s important to get this contract right on the first draft to sustain a great impression. On the other hand, every vendor is different and provides different products or services, so it can be overwhelming to streamline this process.

However, this is also where using a contract lifecycle management platform like Ironclad allows you to adjust each vendor agreement without creating a document from scratch each time. Its Workflow Designer helps you streamline and have insight into the process while still allowing flexibility to modify individual vendor agreements.

3. Order forms

Order forms are extremely important to your business because they help you communicate and receive what you need to remain successful. Any confusion in this process could lead to increased costs, lack of resources, or overall frustration within the organization. 

Thankfully, there is a better way to manage your order forms and ensure continuity in your resources. With templated workflows and the ability to duplicate and revise order forms without starting over, Ironclad’s digital contract management is the way to drive efficiency through your organization’s order forms. 

4. Master Service Agreements (MSA)

The purpose of Master Service Agreements, or MSAs, is to set the terms for future agreements or transactions between two parties. Since MSAs essentially set the precedent for a business relationship, they’re something you want to create with a proactive mindset, carefully taking into consideration every step of the contract creation process.

Managing MSAs is easiest when you can use the same system for every step of the process, and that’s one of the many benefits of contract lifecycle management. Instead of switching between systems to communicate internally or externally, you can collaborate within Ironclad’s platform and track every step of the contract’s lifecycle with end-to-end contract management.

5. Statements of Work (SOW)

Statements of Work, or SOWs, outline all of the details that go into a project associated with your business. Similar to MSAs, these contracts set a precedent for an entire project and must be handled with precision and care. Failure to manage these contracts thoughtfully could cause major miscommunication, as well as project delays, incompletion, and inaccuracy. 

Managing SOWs can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Ironclad’s contract lifecycle management platform gives you the stability of knowing you’re checking all the right boxes on the first draft, but also the flexibility to adjust workflows for each project and edit details along the way. 

How to become a better business partner to legal

Because contract management is broken in most businesses, helping your legal team find a better way is the ultimate opportunity for you to become a better business partner.

See why our customers say things like: “Our non-legal stakeholders can intuitively use the product and love how it works! Clean UI—No unnecessary options, everything makes sense.”

Contracts are the most important unsolved problem in the modern business, but with Ironclad you can:

  • Create one single source of truth and single system for all of your business contracts
  • Manage every step of the contract lifecycle without leaving the platform
  • Stay connected, easily collaborate with your team and third parties 
  • Negotiate effectively with counterparties, easily accept or reject redlines and track all changes to a document
  • Unlock new opportunities and better decision making by accessing your business’ critical data hidden in your contracts
  • Create any type of contract in seconds with templated workflows 
  • Streamline the contract creation process for both bulk, one-size-fits-all documents and individual, customized agreements 


By implementing contract lifecycle management software, your contracts can go from deal breakers to deal makers. Developing a solid process for these contracts now will set you up for success in the future, allowing you to feel in complete control of your contracts and overseeing the data within them. 

“On any given day, I receive a number of questions like ‘What was the exclusivity term?’ ‘What were the pricing terms of that?’ Being able to quickly pull up the terms of any agreement, filter, and tag certain things on Ironclad has been essential.”

— Ezinne Okpo, VP of Legal, Reonomy

To see how Ironclad can level-up your organization’s contract management process, click here to learn more about digital contracting.

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