Here’s a simple exercise for you to check the presence or lack of contract repository management in your organization.
How quickly can you retrieve a list of all third-party contracts your organization received over the past six weeks?
If this exercise took you more than a few minutes, then you have a problem on your hands. Difficulty in locating contracts, especially when you need them the most, indicates that your contract data is distributed, siloed, disorganized, or inaccessible.
Luckily, there is a solution for this dilemma - using a contract repository management tool.
But first, let's get the basics correct.
Contract repository management is a best practice for organizations to collect and store contracts and related information in a searchable, on-demand format, unlocking cross-department and organization-wide referencing and retrieval.
Usually, a single, centralized database is needed to record and track contract data. This can vary from a simple excel sheet monitoring fundamental contract details to a complex dashboard analyzing contract metadata with all kinds of filters and perspectives.
Choosing the right contract repository management practice can do wonders for your organization. It helps you:
You no longer need to scratch your head trying to recall when and where each and every one of your contracts are stored.
By saving all contracts at one location, a contract repository allows easy retrieval of legal documents, better collaboration between teams, and shorter workflow timelines.
Your contracts contain critical and confidential information. Lack of proper oversight invites security breaches and even litigation.
By implementing access and version control, it is possible to delegate roles and responsibilities to members and enable secure sharing of contracts.
Your old contracts serve as a reference point for future contracts. But searching for old contracts from scratch every time makes the task redundant and tedious.
Instead, by categorizing contracts according to department, type, counterparty, date, value, etc., and storing them using tags and separate folders, your team can quickly search the documents they are looking for, improving output.
Your contract renewals help you capitalize on returning customers to expand the business. But, failure to keep up with contract dates prevents you from renegotiating new terms and values, resulting in lost opportunities and revenue leakages.
With a proper contract repository solution, you can stay on top of your contracts by using reminders and notifications to track important contract events automatically and efficiently.
Poor contract storage methods can result in longer workflows, increased operational costs, and lower productivity. The following are the common challenges overcome by proper contract repository management.
Without a common database to store documents, contracts will be recorded by different users at multiple locations and devices. This makes it almost impossible to retrieve contracts immediately when they are required.
For example, say you run an events management company, and the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your business. You wish to apply for refunds from your many vendors, for which you need to review the obligations mentioned in individual contracts. However, as your contracts were not stored at a centralized location, you and your accounts team will have a tough time retrieving them manually, especially with a depleted workforce owing to the pandemic.
A centralized contract repository management system alleviates this problem by storing all contracts on a single, accessible platform. By using a simple search and filter function, you will be able to pull up the contracts you require almost instantaneously.
Contracts are treasure-troves of information. Each document arrives with a diversity of details, such as contract types, departments, counterparties, values, obligations, etc. The absence of standardized storage conventions results in different business teams recording this information in siloed formats. Thus, it hinders collaboration and causes miscommunication.
Imagine a scenario where you want to compare the value brought in by contracts produced by different departments. Without a tabulated database in place, this task becomes manual and highly time-consuming.
A good contract repository tool can help you organize and visualize your contracts at a granular level. This way, you can use sort and filter options to gain more significant insights into your contracts.
Contracts contain a lot of critical information pertaining to the company and counterparties. In the wrong hands, they can spell disaster for the business, leading to security breaches and litigation. Relying on paperwork and email threads to relay confidential contract-related information can be problematic.
For instance, one of your former employees has joined your competitor, and they still have access to your contracts. They can leverage this information to take away your hard-earned business and clientele.
But, with a contract repository platform, it is possible to encrypt contracts, maintain audit trails, and establish access control to all contracts.
Don’t have an immediate budget for contract repository software? No problem, you can create one from scratch using an assortment of free platforms.
Here, you can use a combination of two tools offered by Google.
Google Drive will be utilized primarily to store copies of contracts. For convenience's sake, you can create separate folders for each department.
Don’t forget to create a file naming convention. This way, it is easy to identify contracts and group documents that contain similar information.
Examples of file naming conventions include:
Next, we go to Google Spreadsheets, where we will begin jotting down the details of the contracts.
Make sure to create columns to track key contract details, including:
Also, create another column to mention the viewable document links of all the contracts stored on Google Drive earlier.
In spreadsheets, use the "Data" option to create a filter, enabling you to sort the information to your liking.
Alternatively, you can use Kanban boards like Trello or Notion to record and track your contracts.
This workspace allows you to create custom pages and display information in a range of formats, such as text, tables, mood boards, and more.
First, create a table or board to track the different contract details. Platforms like Trello offer several more filter options to sort and visualize data than Google Spreadsheets.
Finally, you can decide between creating separate pages for contracts on the Kanban board and linking them to the table or opting for shareable Google Drive links of the contracts by storing them there.
These software are purpose-built and promise effective contract repository management.