10 Essential Contract Management Software Features To Look For
Still creating and executing your agreements the traditional way? Maybe you’re still storing and organizing these contracts in shared folders — or even filing cabinets? If that’s the case, you might just want to consider adopting and implementing contract management software. After all, many other legal professionals have started to do just that — Gartner even predicts that legal departments will increase their legal technology spending three times by 2025.
Contract management software like ContractPodAi Cloud streamlines the creation and maintenance of legal documents. It makes the contract negotiation process and renewals easier and quicker. And it makes day-to-day contracts far more manageable within a single platform.
But let’s face it, it can be difficult to find the right contract management system (CMS) for your legal team and entire organization these days. Going through all of the latest features can be laborious, especially on top of your daily work demands. When it comes to things like ease-of-use, cross-functionality— let alone the initial investment — selecting the wrong CMS can lead to more problems for your enterprise down the road.
So to help you better understand and navigate the contract lifecycle management (CLM) market, we came up with a handy list of ‘must-haves.’ The following are the most important features you should look for in contract management software right now.
1. Centralized Data Repository
First and foremost, you will want to have a central contract database as part of your CMS. Your legal team and organization need to be able to access agreements and related documents — and the crucial data they hold. And you need to be able to view that legal information in a number of ways: by contract, organization, contact, document or task level. Just as important, you should be access your cloud-based, centralized repository from anywhere and at any time. That beats having to search through those spreadsheets, email inboxes — or file cabinets.
ContractPodAi offers a smart contract repository as part of our One Legal Platform. Designed with intuitive visual components, it helps you store, access, and manage your contract and legal data with ease.
2. Search Capabilities
But having your contracts in a centralized data repository simply is not valuable if you cannot find them. So you should be able to do full-text searches for contract-related information, using legal terms and company names, as well as specific words or phrases in a legal document. You should be able to get results from your search instantly and click open any agreement rather quickly. What’s more, you should have the ability to save and export your search results, whenever you need.
With ContractPodAi Cloud, you can carry out advanced, filtered searches to find any contract and related document in mere seconds. You can get a Quick Snapshot or high-level visualization of a contract, or complete a cognitive search of your entire database.
To get to the wealth contained in your contract information, you need to receive unique insights into all of your contracts — and your contracting more broadly. Just as it is important to know the status and performance of each agreement, it is vital to stay on top of the contract management process altogether.
The most advanced contract management software helps you do all of that. Through an intuitive dashboard, you can gain a holistic view of deals across the enterprise. And through advanced, customizable reporting, you can keep up to date on the contractual details and analyze real-time contract data. You can assess the progress of your contract lifecycles, too, and figure out what changes you need to make along the way. In other words, these contract management features allow you to see the overall impact of your contracting, so that you can identify and mitigate risk.
4. Template Libraries
Creating contracts in the first place takes time, though — without pre-approved language or standardized clauses. Thanks to template libraries, all you need to do is enter your key information into your template. You can then quickly assemble agreements based on business rules, and make sure recent contract languages and formats are used. You can also mitigate contract risk and increase compliance.
OneDPA, for example, is a document template sponsored by ContractPodAi. It reduces the time and money spent on reviewing and finalizing data processing agreements (DPAs). And it can be produced through ContractPodAi Cloud’s convenient web-based tool: the oneDPA Generator.
5. Custom Workflows
Mistakes happen throughout the contract management process, too. The human kind. So keeping track of agreements throughout the pre- or post-execution phases is just as important as creating, centralizing, searching, and reporting on them. You should be able to define the various contract management steps, assign contracting tasks like notifying approvers when a contract needs to be signed, and send notifications — so that parties to the process do not have to remember to do particular legal tasks. Thankfully, automated contract workflows help you do this throughout the contracting process. They help you remove the gaps in the creation, negotiating, and executing of agreements, and keep these legal documents moving forward with little or no manual intervention.
6. Collaborative Editing
You should be able to communicate with parties throughout the contract management process also. That is especially true during contract review and amendments. A contract management solution with a collaborative editing feature helps you to make revisions seamlessly and instantly — and track them. It offers real-time contract collaboration must-haves, like automatic versioning, concurrent editing, comments and chat, not to mention the ability to share legal documents for review and approval by third parties. Thanks to these, contract parties can see the most updated version of an agreement and stay on the same page.
7. Automated Review
When it comes to getting final approvals on new contracts, you may run into the usual bottlenecks and come across delays. And unfortunately, this can translate into the loss of business altogether. The good news is that contract management solutions are built with an automated review feature that makes the approval process far less complex. This includes reminders and alerts that help you stay on top of pending signatures. This includes electronic signatures that make the contract sign-off process much faster and easier.
8. Artificial Intelligence
Of course, many of these features would not be possible without advanced technology in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Although AI cannot handle the complicated task of negotiating, for example, it makes other parts of contracting far less time-consuming. It automates the sifting of data and other mundane tasks, and gives you more time for that higher-level, strategic work. But it is important to deploy an AI-driven platform like ContractPodAi, which is not only cost-effective, but also the most convenient to use.
Although the above features are so fundamental to a CMS, not every user needs to access these, particularly the central repository. So you need to be able to define your security roles within your electronic storage. After all, your agreements hold some of your most sensitive data related to your business, not to mention its relationships with customers and suppliers. And today, it is even more critical to keep your contract information safe and secure — to prevent unauthorized access, and protect your organization from data breaches and cyber security attacks.
The good news is that most secure contract management software offers permission-based accessibility and data encryption that will help keep your agreements safe, along with client and vendor information. It allows you to assign an unlimited number of roles, while restricting other users. What’s more, this software offers backups, data recovery, intrusion detection, and other features that further protect your organization’s data.
10. Helpful Integration
Do you think you will need to configure your contract management platform to a whole new business process? If that is the case, you should have the most flexible system tools as possible. These should work seamlessly with both internal and third-party applications, so that you have all solutions under one roof. They should allow users to connect their accounts to the contract management software, so that you can streamline additional workflows, centralize more data, and prevent any discrepancies.
ContractPodAi Cloud, for example, offers integrations around productivity, content management, collaborations and communications, and e-signatures, as well as on the sales- and buy-side. It integrates seamlessly with the latest tech stacks and complementary SaaS applications. This allows you to access your various apps without any interruption, while unifying all of your operations.
Why These Contract Management Software Features Matter
Clearly, then, there are many important features to consider when deploying your first contract management solution. Everything from a basic repository to a clause library, and from standard search to advanced reporting. But as valuable as each of these features are, they really need to fit your needs at the moment. That’s why it’s as important to partner with a reliable CLM vendor that can discuss them with you, as it is to choose the right CLM system.
If you want to learn even more about these contract management software features, check out our Primer, which includes another handy contract management checklist. And to see how you can start your legal digital transformation, contact us today to request a demo.
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