Contract management software (CMS) platforms abound, but one thing they all have in common is that they provide digital tools to execute, manage, access, store, and even search contracts quickly, easily, and securely – no lost drafts, paper cuts, or coffee stains.
But not all contract management software platforms are made equal, and contract managers can do themselves and their companies a favor by carefully considering their businesses’ needs alongside the features of different CMS platforms.
Once you’ve narrowed down your company’s priorities, check out our list below of the most important contract management software features:
One of the biggest concerns with digitalization of the contracting process is, understandably, security. The best CMS platforms utilize cloud technology, and this can lead to fears about confidentiality, privacy, and the security of sensitive data. In fact, cloud technology is a lot safer than many people realize.
That said, to make sure your contracts are as safe from threat as possible, you should look for features such as vulnerability testing, intrusion detection, and AES encryption. Customizable user roles and permissions add an extra layer of security, so that you choose specifically who sees what and when.
Beyond preventing data breaches, a good CMS should have backup systems and secure storage capabilities.
2. Cloud Technology
As mentioned above, the most efficient, up-to-date CMS platforms tend to make use of cloud technology. In addition to superior security, the cloud also makes backup and recovery faster and simpler, while allowing for much easier and quicker collaboration among all necessary parties.
With the cloud, sharing, signing, executing, accessing, and storing documents happens with the click of a button.
This is another area where digitalization has virtually revolutionized (no pun intended!) the contract management process. Where before tracking down a particular contract or draft necessitated searching through stacks or drawers of physical files – possibly stored in several sites – with incredible attention to detail, a good CMS platform allows you to digitally search through contracts (or through an individual contract line-by-line) for important terms, clauses, or renewal dates as easily as with Google.
Look for a CMS with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, which allows the computer to “read” PDFs and similar documents the way a human would.
For ease-of-access for managers and clients as well as fast, simple signing and contract execution, you’ll want your CMS to be integrated with platforms like DocuSign or Salesforce – software which allows the signing and examining of contracts by anyone you choose, from anywhere with a secure internet connection.
No need for snail mail or cross-town trips; the right integrations allow contracts to be finalized, sent, signed, and returned electronically within minutes.
5. Alerts and Tracking
What good would a contract manager be who couldn’t even remember when important contracts are up for renewal? The best CMS platforms offer comprehensive and customizable notification and alert capabilities, so you’re instantly notified of important actions, signatures, due dates and renewal dates.
Similarly, make sure your CMS provides the kind of transaction history and audit tracking you need.
6. Analytics and Reporting
Even the best human contract manager can’t rival technology when it comes to analyzing and reporting on a company’s contracts over time. A good CMS provider can show you the data on contract timelines, expenses, renewal rates – you name it – helping you further streamline your operations.
Good contract management can work cost-saving wonders for a company, so it’s understandable to get a little foggy-eyed comparing the features of different platforms and end up fixating on the bottom line of price. But armed with a little knowledge about the most crucial CMS features, you can rest assured you’re on the right track to finding a life-saving contract management software.