The evolution of contract management with technology

With lawyers strapped for time and in the hunt for greater operational efficiency, contract management tools are becoming an inseparable part of their daily operations. But as both volumes and complexities of contracts grow, teams are looking to adopt dynamic systems that automate key processes across the contract lifecycle. This translates into an integrated service that binds together 360-degree innovations in contract creation, collaboration, electronic signatures, customizable workflows, and contract analytics. Contemporary contract management tools, therefore, can not only help organizations across the globe, achieve greater operational efficiency, they also ensure better cost efficiency, compliance, and improve customer relationships.

Maximizing contract lifecycle management (CLM) efficiency

Maximizing output remains intangible without efficient CLM. A great CLM helps optimize business processes, builds cohesion, and is directly invested in business goal realisation. Often it involves multiple teams spread across multiple touch points. It is unsurprising therefore, that tools solving specific CLM issues like - central repository, contract drafting, execution, or post-execution analytics are gaining cadence along with enterprise-wide solutions. For over a decade, traditional CLMs required manual interventions at each stage of a contract lifecycle. The process to move thousands of legacy contracts into the CLM, setting up of reminders, sharing of reports, and collating inputs from various departments also continued to be manual.

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) all this is set to change. Automation is disrupting the contract management market, bypassing manual intervention required in CLM proceseses. Future-ready organizations have now upped the ante by transforming contracts into AI-friendly and machine-readable formats as against scanned image files and pdfs. This works as a sounding board for the future of the legal industry and its adoption of coming-of-age developments in technology.

Faster turnarounds with AI-led contract automation

Automations help organizations speed-up mundane administrative tasks and make contractual processes more efficient. Advanced and tailored algorithms to understand specific business interests simplify drafting contracts from scratch or from standard contract templates, tracking of critical dates, and minimising human errors much easier.

AI has transformed traditional CLM from central repositories and retrieval systems to intelligent systems that command less human bandwidth and deliver and help achieve financial frugality. AI enables organizations to make more data-driven decisions by leveraging better collaboration, speedier and error free contract reviews and close-outs, and accurate contract analysis.

Driving contract compliance

AI-led analytics provide exhaustive, quantifiable and actionable data and support it with intuitive dashboards. This provides a greater degree of visibility to contract compliance, delay in payments, tracking of discounts or rebates, key milestones, at the click of a button, thus avoiding any non-compliance or breach.

With the world demarcated by machine-assisted living, AI-driven contract compliance simplifies scrutiny. This ends up making compliance assessment open and easier.

Collaborative & customizable workflows

Legal professionals often find themselves caught in a communication loop. Sending multiple emails to various stakeholders, waiting for inputs and then incorporating them to the final version is an ancient ordeal! The growth in communication technology ensures real time collaboration, reduces the contract cycle time, and mitigates the risk of oversight in the process.

Getting review and approvals from key stakeholders is a log jam in contract management. Automated flexible workflows facilitates quick approvals from the right stakeholders reducing the contract close-out cycle time.

However, communication technology should also be contextual for legal operations to understand lawyer-specific use cases and thereby providing intelligent assessment of documents and faster, more accurate handovers.

Driving smoother user experiences

In roles as sensitive and information-heavy as legal, it is conventional to prioritize output/process improvement over experiential developments. Modern technology are breaking away from that convention.

Today’s intuitive, well-designed, flexible, customer-centric contract management systems create a professional and seamless experience valued by most customers. Legal professionals are adopting  systems that create satisfactory user experiences and emphasize on fluidity and ease-of-use.

Data privacy

Due to the extra-territorial scope of GDPR, the organizations in EU and Non-EU countries are adopting stringent data privacy standards and ethics. It is now critical for contract management systems to address GDPR security and data privacy standards to build consumer trust and ensure compliance.

Digital signatures and identification

Especially as most operations turn virtual, current contract management trends highlight an increased use-case for digital signatures across online and offline platforms, from practically anywhere. Since contracts are hyper-sensitive and legally binding exchequers, these solutions also need to enable enhanced authentication and encryption through audit trails and password protected electronic signing, to confirm proof of identity and eliminate fraudulence. This will simplify and speed-up contract execution processes while reducing costs and the time spent on traditional paperwork.

Remote Online Notarization (RON) enables online notarization through audio-visual technology and electronic stamping which eliminates the need to be physically present for personal identity verification at the notary location. RON is gaining momentum in the U.S. which would accelerate the  adoption of digital signatures in other countries in the coming years.

What the next few years will bring for legaltech remains to be seen, but the promise is bright and exciting.