In the world of business, time is money. And for in-house legal teams, a lot of that money is wasted on the arduous process of attending to numerous contract requests, turning the department into a labyrinth of chaos.
Each request comes with its own intricacies, requiring meticulous attention and timely action. Yet, as the volume of requests continues to surge, handling them without a system in place becomes challenging. Not only does it consume valuable time and resources, but it also threatens to impede other essential legal processes.
In this post, we will explore how you can handle contract requests more efficiently with tools and some best practices.
What is the contract request stage?
The contract request stage is when your business enters the realm of potential contractual agreements, exploring the needs, motivations, and desired outcomes for the contract at hand. It involves mentioning the details of the type of contract needed and what it should include.
As contracts come in various forms, this stage necessitates a focused approach to clearly outline your goals, enabling your team to create a contract tailored precisely to the requestor’s needs.
Why do you need to streamline the contract request process?
Efficiency and collaboration are the lifeblood of any successful organization, and streamlining the contract request stage brings remarkable benefits in these areas.
- Streamlined processes and automation tools ensure contract requests flow seamlessly, reducing bottlenecks and speeding up contract initiation
- Clear channels to request for a contract, comprehensive instructions, and a centralized contract repository ensure everyone is on the same page, minimizing miscommunication and strengthening collaboration between legal, procurement, finance, and other departments
Best practices to manage contract requests
With a few tools and best practices, you will be in a better position to handle contract requests coming from left, right, and center. It’s not that difficult! Let’s figure how.
#1 Developing a standardized contract request process
A standardized request process ensures consistency in how contract requests are handled. It establishes clear guidelines, procedures, and expectations, enabling a streamlined and efficient workflow.
Standardization also promotes accuracy and enhances the quality of contract requests. Here are some ways you can standardize your contract request process.
Create request templates to simplify the process
Request templates serve as predefined forms or documents that capture essential information required for contract requests. Here are some tips on creating effective request templates:
- Start by identifying the key information necessary for contract requests. This may include details such as the purpose of the contract, desired outcomes, contract duration, parties involved, and any specific requirements
- Make the request template user-friendly and intuitive. Use clear headings, concise instructions, and sections that capture relevant information. Consider incorporating dropdown menus, checkboxes, and pre-populated fields where applicable to simplify data entry
- Tailor the template structure and fields to accommodate specific contract categories, such as non-disclosure agreements, service contracts, or procurement contracts
Define the request submission process for clarity
Defining a clear and seamless request submission establishes the guidelines and procedures for submitting contract requests, ensuring consistency and efficiency.
- Specify the preferred method of submission, whether it's through an online portal, email, or a designated request form. Clearly outline the required documents, supporting information, and any specific formatting guidelines to facilitate a smooth submission process
- Communicate the expected turnaround time for request reviews and approvals. This helps manage expectations and ensures that requests are processed in a timely manner, preventing unnecessary delays
- Designate a point person or a contract request coordinator who oversees the process, ensuring that requests are received, reviewed, and routed appropriately
Establish approval workflows for efficient contract request reviews
Approval workflows define the sequence of approvals required for contract requests and ensures that the right individuals or departments review and authorize requests.
- Determine the specific individuals or departments that need to review and approve contract requests. This may include legal counsel, finance teams, procurement departments, or executive stakeholders. Align the approval process with your organization's hierarchy and ensure that all relevant parties are included
- Establish different approval levels based on the complexity, value, or risk associated with contract requests. Clearly define the criteria for each level to determine when higher-level approvals are required
- Leverage contract management software or contract workflow automation tools to streamline the routing of contract requests for approvals. Automation reduces manual effort, minimizes errors, and speeds up the overall approval process
#2 Establishing clear channel for communication and collaboration
Clear communication is paramount in effective contract request management. It ensures that all stakeholders are aligned, minimizes misunderstandings, and fosters a collaborative environment. Here are some tips to ensure clear communication:
Provide stakeholders with clear instructions for submitting requests
- Create a comprehensive guide or document that outlines the step-by-step process for submitting contract requests. Include instructions on how to complete request forms, attach necessary documents, and provide any additional information. Break down the process into clear and easy-to-follow instructions to minimize confusion
- Clearly specify the essential information that stakeholders need to include when submitting a contract request. Identify mandatory fields, supporting documents, and any specific formatting requirements. Providing this clarity ensures that all necessary information is captured upfront, preventing delays or the need for back-and-forth communication
Create a central repository for all contract requests for easy access
- Select a secure digital platform or contract management software to serve as the central repository for contract requests. Ensure that it provides robust security features to protect sensitive information. Additionally, consider ease of access for stakeholders, allowing them to submit, track, and review requests conveniently
- Develop a logical categorization system to organize contract requests within the central repository. Use tags, folders, or labels to classify requests based on factors such as contract type, department, or priority level. This structure enables easy searching, tracking, and retrieval of contract requests when needed
Provide regular updates on the status of requests to promote transparency
- Send automated notifications to stakeholders regarding the progress of their requests. These notifications can include updates on review stages, approvals, or any potential delays. Timely communication fosters trust and keeps stakeholders engaged in the process
- Provide stakeholders with designated channels, such as email or a dedicated online portal, where they can inquire about the status of their requests. Respond promptly to their inquiries and provide accurate updates. Clear and timely communication helps manage expectations and demonstrates a commitment to delivering a seamless contract request experience
#3 Prioritizing requests based on business objectives
Prioritizing contract requests based on business objectives ensures that resources are allocated effectively and aligns with the organization's strategic goals.
“By doing 1:1s with stakeholders, my team members not only get familiar with short-term and long-term business objectives but also take progressive steps toward accomplishing those objectives. The business grows, of course, but at the same time, my team members grow in confidence when they see how their contributions have bolstered the revenue stream of the company.”
~ Sandeep Chowdhury, Group GC, HCC Ltd.
The Counsel Corner: Transforming the Legal Function at a Large Enterprise
Here are some strategies to consider when prioritizing contract requests:
- Gain a deep understanding of the organization's overall business priorities and objectives. This knowledge allows you to align contract requests with strategic initiatives, ensuring that contracts contribute to the organization's success
- Evaluate the urgency and time sensitivity of each contract request. Identify requests that require immediate attention or have strict deadlines. Prioritize these requests to ensure timely execution and avoid potential penalties or missed opportunities
- Analyze the financial impact of contract requests on the organization. Consider factors such as revenue potential, cost implications, and potential risks. Prioritize requests that have a significant financial impact, aligning with the organization's financial goals
Establish a system for categorizing requests based on priority: organizational efficiency
- Develop a clear and concise priority scale that reflects the importance and urgency of contract requests. For example, you can use categories such as "High Priority," "Medium Priority," and "Low Priority." Clearly define the criteria that determine the priority level for each request
- Align the priority levels with the organization's strategic goals. Determine how each request contributes to achieving these goals and assign the appropriate priority level accordingly. This approach ensures that the most impactful requests receive the necessary attention and resources
- Utilize contract management software or a centralized tracking system to categorize and track contract requests based on priority. This enables efficient monitoring, reporting, and transparency throughout the request management process
Assessing the impact of each request on business objectives: informed decision making
- Determine the key metrics that reflect the organization's business objectives. These metrics could include revenue growth, cost reduction, risk mitigation, or market expansion. Evaluate how each contract request contributes to these metrics and prioritize accordingly.
- Analyze how well each request aligns with the organization's strategic initiatives. Assess whether the request supports long-term goals, market positioning, or competitive advantage.
- Seek input from relevant stakeholders, such as department heads, executives, or key decision-makers. Gather their perspectives on the potential impact of contract requests on business objectives
Utilize data to make informed decisions about prioritization
- Implement a system to track and analyze metrics related to contract requests, such as request volume, cycle time, or the number of requests per department. Leverage contract management software or data analytics tools to gather meaningful insights. Identify patterns and trends that can inform prioritization decisions
- Set benchmarks or thresholds for request metrics based on historical data or industry standards. These benchmarks help in comparing and assessing the relative importance and urgency of different requests. Requests falling outside established benchmarks may require additional scrutiny or a higher priority
- Encourage feedback from stakeholders involved in the contract request process. Solicit input on the effectiveness of prioritization decisions and the impact on business objectives. This feedback loop allows continuous improvement of the prioritization process based on real-world experiences and insights
#4 Using automation tools to streamline the process
Automation tools play a crucial role in streamlining the contract request management process, offering numerous benefits for efficiency and productivity.
- Automation eliminates manual, time-consuming tasks associated with contract request management. By automating repetitive processes, you free up valuable time and resources, enabling your team to focus on higher-value activities
- Automation streamlines the flow of contract requests, reducing bottlenecks and delays. Requests can be submitted, reviewed, and approved more quickly, accelerating the overall contract lifecycle
- It ensures consistent data entry, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies. By enforcing standardized processes and capturing information electronically, automation improves data accuracy and maintains compliance
- It provides real-time visibility into the status of contract requests. Stakeholders can track the progress, identify potential roadblocks, and proactively address any issues that arise.
Leverage contract management software to automate the request submission and approval process
Contract management software offers comprehensive automation capabilities, enabling organizations to automate the request submission and approval process.
“Although a CLM solution might seem costly in the early stages, companies should have it in place and build workflows within the tool to process contracts better. By doing so, they can keep legal costs low in the growth stages and close deals faster. Moreover, they will have clear visibility into the contract pipeline and use their legal resources to optimize workflows better for yielding maximum results.”
~ Igor Poroger, Director of Legal, EMEA, Vectra AI
The Counsel Corner: How CLMs Empower Legal Teams in B2B SaaS Companies
Here are some tips for utilizing contract management software effectively:
- Choose the right software: Select a contract management software solution that aligns with your organization's specific needs and requirements. Consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, integration capabilities, and robust workflow automation features
- Customize workflows: Configure the software to reflect your organization's unique request submission and approval workflows. Tailor the system to match your internal processes, approval levels, and notification triggers, ensuring a seamless and efficient workflow
- Train users and increase adoption: Provide comprehensive training to users who will interact with the contract management software. Ensure they understand the features, functionalities, and benefits of automation. Encourage adoption by highlighting the time and efficiency gains it offers
#5 Continuously evaluating and improving the process
The contract request management process is not a one-time implementation but an ongoing endeavor that requires regular evaluation and improvement.
Continuously evaluating and improving the contract request management process is crucial for several reasons:
- Regular evaluation ensures that the contract request process remains aligned with the organization's changing needs and objectives
- Ongoing evaluation allows you to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas where the process can be streamlined. This proactive approach enables timely adjustments to improve overall effectiveness and productivity
- Regular evaluation and improvement demonstrate a commitment to enhancing stakeholder experience. By addressing pain points and incorporating feedback, you can increase stakeholder satisfaction and engagement
Monitor key metrics such as request volume and cycle time
- Utilize reporting and analytics tools: Leverage contract management software or analytics tools to collect and analyze data related to the identified metrics. These tools can generate reports, dashboards, or visualizations that provide clear visibility into the performance of the contract request process
- Regularly review and analyze metrics: Set a schedule for reviewing and analyzing the collected metrics. Regularly assess the data to identify trends, patterns, or areas that require attention. Use this information to inform decision-making and target areas for improvement
Solicit feedback from stakeholders
- Establish feedback channels: Provide multiple channels for stakeholders to provide feedback, such as surveys, suggestion boxes, or regular meetings. Ensure that these channels are easily accessible and encourage open and honest feedback
- Proactive communication: Actively communicate the importance of feedback and the organization's commitment to continuous improvement. Encourage stakeholders to share their experiences, challenges, and suggestions related to the contract request process
- Regularly review and act on feedback: Regularly review the feedback received and take action on valid suggestions and concerns. Prioritize addressing critical issues and communicate any improvements or changes made based on stakeholder feedback
Implement process improvements based on feedback and data analysis:
- Identify improvement opportunities: Analyze feedback, data analysis, and identified pain points to identify specific areas for improvement. Focus on addressing root causes rather than solely treating symptoms
- Collaborative approach: Involve relevant stakeholders, including users, legal teams, and process owners, in brainstorming and implementing process improvements. Encourage collaboration and cross-functional perspectives to generate innovative solutions
- Test and iterate: Implement improvements in a controlled manner, testing them on a small scale before implementing them organization-wide. Monitor the impact of changes and iterate as necessary to ensure desired outcomes are achieved
Contract Request Form Template [FREE]
Having a well-designed contract request form can significantly contribute to streamlining your contract request process by capturing all the necessary information in a structured manner.
To help you in this endeavor, we have created a Contract Request Form Template that you can choose to build on Google Forms or even in a Word Document.
How can SpotDraft help streamline the contract request stage?
SpotDraft is an AI-powered contract management platform that can significantly streamline the contract request stage. Here are some of the features that make it the best CLM for contract requests and more:
#1 Automated contract request generation
By leveraging its AI capabilities, SpotDraft can extract relevant information from user inputs and generate comprehensive contract request templates, saving time and effort in creating requests from scratch.
#2 Standardized request templates
SpotDraft provides pre-designed contract request templates that can be customized to align with specific business requirements. These templates ensure consistency and standardization across contract requests, reducing errors and improving efficiency.
#3 Streamlined request submission process
The CLM tool simplifies the request submission process by providing a user-friendly interface where stakeholders can enter relevant information and upload supporting documents. This centralized platform eliminates the need for manual paperwork or scattered email exchanges, ensuring a smooth and efficient submission process.
#4 Workflow automation
SpotDraft offers powerful workflow automation capabilities to define and streamline the approval process for contract requests. Users can establish approval workflows, set up approval stages, assign roles and responsibilities, and track the progress of each request. This automation eliminates manual follow-ups, reduces delays, and improves overall process visibility.
#5 Collaboration and communication
The tool facilitates seamless collaboration and communication among stakeholders involved in the contract request stage. Users can leave comments, exchange messages, and share documents within the platform, ensuring effective communication and avoiding miscommunication through scattered channels.
#6 Analytics and insights
You can use SpotDraft to track key metrics such as request volume, cycle time, and approval bottlenecks. These analytics help identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance process efficiency.
#7 Integration and scalability
SpotDraft integrates with other business tools and systems, such as CRM or document management platforms, to ensure a seamless flow of information and enhance productivity. Additionally, SpotDraft is scalable, accommodating the needs of growing businesses and adapting to evolving contract request management requirements.
Drive efficiency and success by transforming contract request management
In conclusion, effectively submitting and managing contract requests is crucial for organizations to streamline their contract management processes, enhance efficiency, and achieve their business objectives.
By following best practices outlined in this article, you can transform your contract request management from a complex and time-consuming task into a streamlined and efficient operation.
To improve your processes further, you should embrace technologies like SpotDraft that can further empower organizations with AI-driven capabilities to automate and optimize the contract request stage. Request a demo today.