Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

4 Features You Need for Effective Contract Management

Angela Wilson
Senior Solutions Architect, CSS

When a client approaches us for help with implementing software to manage procurement contracts, there’s often a common story that’s driving the concern. Despite having a procurement process in place, fast-growing companies find that the terms and conditions of contracts can vary significantly depending on the vendor, contract type, geographical area where the contract is getting executed, and even the type of purchase or purchase category.

Not only does that mean lengthy cycle times and starting every project from step one, it also means that consistency, compliance, and contract enforcement become more challenging. There’s a silver lining for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) struggling with these issues. Today’s cloud-based procurement management solutions offer a number of features to streamline the process and make issues a thing of the past.

High-Level Standardization Features

One of the most important roles a cloud-based procurement software plays is enabling standardization of the contracting process. SMBs may be moving from an ad hoc contracting process, or looking for better support and enforcement for standardization. No matter the motivation, standardization of the contracting process offers growing companies numerous benefits.

Being consistent in contract creation helps cut costs, improve delivery, and eliminate some of the common challenges associated with procurement. The right cloud-based procurement tools help you outline your fast-growing company’s rules and policies. Each time a new contract is created, it will be developed with those business guidelines driving the process.

Language Clause Libraries

One frustrated procurement officer recently remarked that the biggest challenge their company faced was lengthy reviews from legal. Upon exploring their process, we learned that the company largely worked with a pool of vendors on very similar contracts. The scope or timelines might change, but the terms and conditions didn’t vary at all.

By leveraging a language clause library, it was possible to help procurement officers create drafts with pre-approved language and speed up the legal review process. If your fast-growing company uses standard language in certain parts of every contract, it’s easy to pull that template from the language clause library. From there, you can spend your time focusing on working with legal and other stakeholders to compose language you’re using for the first time or in places where the contract might deviate from your organization’s standard terms.

Streamline the Approvals Process

Managing contract approvals often comes down to collaboration. Any single contract might need reviews from contract, procurement, legal, and other internal stakeholders. How can you be sure at any moment that you’re looking at the latest document and that you have access to all the comments made so far in the process? With cloud-based procurement solutions, each step of the approval workflow is defined, revisions are tracked, and contract deviations are reported.

Centralized documents can be reviewed, modified, or approved by each stakeholder in a predefined order. Any additional documents can be attached, and notes, caveats, and concerns captured so that everyone involved in the approvals process has the full context. Perhaps most critically, by eliminating the need to track down documents or worry that an email goes missing in an overflowing inbox, notifications keep approvals moving forward. It’s easy to log in at any point and have full visibility into where a contract is at in creation, review, or execution.

Contract Workflow Management

Effective, responsive procurement is only possible when you have the right tools to understand how your procurement process is operating. Cloud-based procurement contract solutions help provide deeper insight into the overall workflow. Has every step been completed? Do you have a clear plan in place for different types of contracts? Are there bottlenecks or obstacles that can be addressed for better long-term performance?

At the same time, these features let your small-to-medium business overcome unnecessary delays. Approval workflows let you efficiently push contracts through review and signature steps. Centralizing documents makes it easy to see everything associated with a contract, or to create an audit trail of review, amendments, and other comments. Finally, it’s easy to stay up to date and on top of the full contract lifecycle with alerts that let you know a contract is expiring or needs attention.

Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) need tight procurement policies. Delays can hinder progress, and an inefficient contract process can hurt the bottom line. Cloud-based procurement contract solutions simplify the contracts creation process, speed up approvals, centralize management, and offer visibility and support from a contract’s start to finish.

Learn how to harness strategic procurement for a competitive advantage in our new ebook, A Guide to Developing a Responsive, Cloud-Based Procurement Process.


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