Every business deal always starts with the uncertainty of closing or not closing a deal. And when an agreement is successfully reached, the corresponding contract suddenly becomes a very important business document. Since companies thrive on great lasting relationships, contracts should be successfully maintained, renegotiated, and completed.
As an evolving document, a business contract should be managed in a way that all stakeholders are satisfied with the agreed conditions and timelines. This is why contract management software is among the most essential business tools in the world.
We’ve prepared this post to provide you with a good understanding of today’s best contract management software, including its features, types, and other important aspects. With this knowledge, you can easily select the best solution for your business and thereby continue closing deals and sustain lasting relationships with clients.
What Is Contract Management Software?
According to the 2018 State of Contract Management Report, 66% of respondent businesses consider the approval process as a significant source of problems in their contract management cycle. The same report says that for 52% of businesses, monitoring of key events, deliverables, and obligations as their biggest challenges in contract management.
These are among the reasons why more and more companies are deploying contract management solutions in their operations. Across the world, businesses big and small use these solutions to simplify their entire contract management cycle and related tasks. These technologies have been helping various work units and key employees in their negotiations, revisions, and overall management of business deals and contracts.
A contract management software simplifies and makes more efficient every contract management process, from creation to sharing among all stakeholders. What’s more, contract management tools are designed to seamlessly integrate with various key solutions that companies already use.
From sales managers to attorneys, everyone on the contract negotiation, administration, and compliance side considers these solutions as indispensable nowadays.
List of Best Contract Management Software
These are today’s expert-selected and customer-preferred contract management systems:
- ContractSafe. This leading cloud-based contract management solution that is easy to use and affordable, making it ideal for SMBs. Powered by AI, this robust platform is designed to help streamline the entire contract management cycle, including date reminders and contract speed searching. It also supports team collaboration for enhanced productivity. The vendor offers a free trial and a free-to-use version. Paid plans start at $99 per month.
- Agiloft. Another popular contract management platform, Agiloft, offers a wide array of features and extensive customization. It is also known for its smart interface and user-friendly design, including dozens of wizard-based setup processes and a comprehensive knowledge base. This solution offers a free trial, a free plan for up to 10 users, and several paid plans, starting at $45 per user per month.
- Signable. This contract management platform draws its strength from being a robust e-signature tool, which is known to make affixing digital signatures on documents easy, fast, and secure. This UK-based vendor offers a free trial, a Pay-As-You-GO plan at £1/document, and subscription plans starting at £19 per month.
- Gatekeeper. Another in-demand cloud-based management platform, Gatekeeper is programmed to help businesses enhance the efficiency of their contract and supplier management. At its core is an online information hub, which centralizes all document storage and handling. Subscriptions start at $450 per month.
- PandaDoc. A web-based contract management solution that enables business users to easily make, forward, and share legally-binding contracts, complete with e-signatures, etc. This comprehensive document management suite is designed to help businesses seamlessly shift to paperless operations and accelerate business deals. It also offers a free trial, while its paid plans begin at $9 per user per month.
- ContractWorks. This AI-powered contract management solution offers a simple, robust, and safe way to create, share, and manage contracts and other business documents. Some of its key features include smart document tagging, integrated e-signature, and secure contract repository. Prices start at $600 per month.
- Juro. This platform helps users optimize the value of every business contract they make with their clients. Some of Juro’s main features are AI data extraction, approval workflow, templates dashboard, and audit trails. Its paid plans start at $125 per user per month (minimum of 5 users).
- Icertis. This smart cloud-based contract management platform is designed to help companies transform their contracts into valuable business assets. It has four main modules, which include the core platform, AI apps, user experience, and a blockchain framework. Icertis offers quote-based, industry-specific plans.
- Apttus. A platform that offers complete visibility into contracts, providing better governance and control of the entire contract management lifecycle. Aside from automating contract management processes, Apttus helps businesses better reduce risks, minimize costs, and become more responsive. This is a quote-based solution.
- CMx ContractExperience. This contract automation and lifecycle management platform is designed to help businesses streamline all contract management processes and workflows. CMx is packed with rich features and helps enterprises minimize legal risks and operational costs pertinent to contract management. It offers a free trial, while its paid plans start at $99 per month.
Types of Contract Management Software
There are currently three major types of contract management solutions in the market today. These are:
These are contract management software that runs on a local desktop or workstation. As an on-premise solution, users can carry out their contract management activities without the need for an internet connection. This offers the convenience of continuing with the tasks without being delayed by internet downtime.
This type of contract management solution is deployed via the cloud. This means that business users can easily access, revise, and share contract documents from anywhere, anytime. Aside from remote access, cloud-based contract management tools offer a host of advantages like cost savings and an increased level of security.
A hybrid contract management solution involves a combination of on-premise and online capabilities. Because it provides the best of both worlds, hybrid platforms are typically more expensive. This is not meant for SMBs but can be an ideal solution for large enterprises.
Main Features of Contract Management Software
Here are the common features of contract management software:
- Contract database. All digital contracts can be stored in a single, centralized online repository with integrated tools, such as for search and analytics.
- Contract creation. Users can make new contracts using the solution, without the need for other apps.
- Notifications and reminders. Contract management tools enable users to be automatically notified with important contract-related reminders.
- Contract editing. Concerned parties can receive, share, examine, and edit various contract versions.
- Contract templates. Users can conveniently make, retrieve, and even share existing and new intuitive contract templates.
- Approval process. This simplifies the contract approval procedures, which also centralizes related tasks and workflows.
- Contract collaboration. In-house and outside users can use the contract management tool to collaborate better to improve communication, particular tasks, and overall contract efficiency.
- Contract attachments. Supporting information like digital invoices, memos, etc. can be easily attached to contracts as needed.
- Reporting and dashboard. These solutions also allow for the generation of special and standard reports of contract timelines, milestones, and statuses, including live snapshots.
- Integrations/APIs. Top-tier contract management platforms can integrate with other key solutions that businesses use, like CRM and CPQ.
Top Benefits of Contract Management Software
Time and cost savings, as well as increased efficiency in handling contracts, are indubitably the major benefits of contract management solutions. The other significant once include:
Having a central repository of contracts
Top contract management platforms allow business users to quickly store, share, and retrieve crucial contracts in a secure and user-friendly centralized contract hub. This consolidated depot can store both the entire contract document and metadata and regulate contract access.
These robust tools enhance contract management efficiency primarily due to the vast innovations in automation technology. This covers the entire contract management cycle, from pre-contract to post-contract signing, which helps hasten the overall process and makes every related task faster and more efficient.
Quick and easy access
Another major benefit that contract management solutions provide is the streamlining of contract access. With a smart contact search tool, authorized users can easily search and retrieve all contract documents and data. Access is typically controlled by a secure authorization protocol.
Visibility and control
Today’s best-in-class contract management solutions offer unparalleled contract control and visibility. They offer live, quick snapshot views of their entire contract management workflow, including relevant tools that support enhanced productivity and data-driven insights for actionable decisions. These tools include custom dashboards, automated notifications for expirations/deadlines, etc.
Contract management vendors are among the most active in terms of rolling out new technology innovations in a regular manner. Here are some of the latest trends in contract management technology:
Trends in business process automation are accelerating the entire contract management cycle among clients and businesses. The underlying technology here is automation, which hastens the creation and routing of contracts to the correct recipients to ensure deals are completed faster than before. Automation also guarantees that concerned parties are notified about upcoming schedules of contract expirations and renewals.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Vendors are increasingly deploying AI and ML capabilities to make contract management solutions more robust and efficient. Both technologies help fast-track the development and delivery of numerous innovations into the contract management space. These include the integration of human feedback into the contract creation process as well as in improving the overall contract management cycle.
Another emerging trend in contract management is contract discovery or C-discovery. This innovation is designed to empower the board of directors with better control over the risk, compliance, and legal management aspects of their organizational contracts. One notable feature is its ability to extract metadata from digital contracts, which helps ensure the contractual obligations of organizations.
Issues and risks are inherent in contracts, even in today’s highly digital world. Here are some of the most likely problems when using contract management solutions:
Despite the advancements in contract management technology, contracts will remain vulnerable to both internal attacks and external breaches. Since no software solution is 100% tamper-proof, it is best for businesses to always practice due diligence in managing their contracts as well as contractual obligations.
Poor contract visibility
Another persistent issue, especially among large enterprises, is the limited visibility of contracts. Because of the large volume of contracts aggravated by the extensive scope of contract handling and storage, numerous contracts are bound to get lost. This is why businesses should ensure that they’re using the contract management systems that can truly address their specific requirements.
Protracted contract turnaround cycle
The slow pace of contract negotiation, generation, and approval still exists nowadays. A long turnaround time results in lost revenues. Without a suitable contract management solution, a business will continue suffering from minimum control of the contract management cycle.
How to Choose the Best Contract Management Software for Your Business
Having the right contract management solution can spell the difference between success and failure in the highly regulated and competitive business environment. However, with so many contract management solutions in the market today, how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Here are some important steps to undertake:
- First, define your entire business process, outlining the key details.
- Design a document workflow that captures in complete detail your existing contract processes, including problem areas and aspects to improve.
- Prepare a request for proposals to ask for more comprehensive information about the contract management solution.
- Ask for a product demo customized to your particular business workflows.
- Select the vendor that best provides your specific requirements.
- Finally, negotiate for the best pricing scheme for the long-term to ensure a firm commitment from the vendor.