An Intro to Documentation for Contract Management
The HBO dark comedy Succession follows the ultra-rich Roy family, modeled partly after the real-life Murdoch empire. From reserving entire theme parks to eating ortolan to writing million-dollar checks over pickup baseball games, the family is so rich that patriarch and CEO Logan Roy can’t even keep track of which news stations he owns.
Having all the resources in the world is only useful if you can keep track. Having a resource you can’t access is as useless as owning a TV channel you don’t watch.
Because documenting resources is vital to running a successful business, contract management documentation is essential for organizations of every size, and document management software like FileCenter gives users the power to organize and manage their documents.
- Contracts are difficult to procure and time-consuming to track.
- Document management helps users manage their valuable contracts.
- Software like FileCenter allows users to make the most of their document management.
What Is Contract Management?
Document management is the process of sourcing, organizing, storing, and analyzing documents. In today’s business world, Document management software such as FileCenter is most often the go-to option for document management
Contract management, then, is the management of contract documents. Contracts have unique needs and require unique management, so the best practices for contract management differ from those for managing general documents.
Document Management Software
Document management software (or DMS) is a powerful tool because of its many advantages over traditional paper document management. Traditional document management requires time-consuming filing systems prone to human error. Additionally, you can only sort documents in a filing cabinet by one criterion, so re-sorting documentation based on unique needs is impossible without a complete re-organization.
Document management software can also sort and process documents based on their content, such as adding multiple pages to a single document, creating metadata tags based on a document’s text, and analyzing documents’ content to gain valuable insights.
When it comes to contract management, document management software is especially valuable. Users need to access contracts from every corner of the organization chart. In a traditional document management system, the only way for multiple users to access a document at the same time is to physically make copies. Any changes or notes added to the document would be unique to that copy, not the original, so the document’s integrity would splinter as more users access it. The digital document is a single source of truth when you use document management software.
Contract management requires delegation and escalation, two tasks you can accomplish easily with document management software but are considerably more difficult with traditional document management software.
Purposes of Contract Management Documentation
There are many unique reasons that you should manage contracts differently than general documentation.
1. Track Responsibilities
You have contracts in the first place because you are buying or selling a product or service. Contracts exist to serve a business need, but service providers must keep track to meet that need. If, for example, you have a contract with an external auditor to review your documentation every two years, it can be easy to forget when the audit is due, who to contact, and what information you need for the audit.
Contract management is important because it allows businesses to keep track of the service providers who are responsible to them and the business they may be responsible to. Contracts are important documents because they remove the ambiguity from business relationships, and contract management is important because it helps businesses keep track of their obligations and entitlements.
2. Informed Procurement
Keeping track of contracts is important to make sure everyone is meeting their obligations and receiving their services, but it’s also important because of the expense and human labor it can save. Contract procurement is time-consuming, and even when maximally optimized, sourcing and finalizing contracts cost money.
Contract management documentation is important because it allows organizations to keep track of their contracts and avoid redundancies. Contract procurement derives from the business needs of an organization, and identifying unmet needs is the only way to reliably delegate resources to the right areas.
3. Coordinate Budgets
Did you know that contracts govern 70-80% of business operations or that document management can reduce erroneous payments by 75-90%? While document management may seem like an afterthought, it’s the undercurrent to your entire business process. Having bad document management doesn’t just affect your secretaries and clerks. It affects the bottom line of your entire organization.
Documentation for contract management is important because of the cost of procuring contracts and because it allows organizations to manage their budgets. Organizations can use document management software to maximize their positive outcomes by knowing the fee commitments, procurement budget allocations, and making that information accessible to the right decision-makers.
The Phases of Contract Management
Contract management requires appropriate documentation at every step of the way, and each phase of contract management has unique documentation needs.
As Abraham Lincoln allegedly said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Preparation is the key to success, and the first step to preparing for contract management is identifying the business needs the contract seeks to meet.
As it pertains to documentation, this means identifying what kinds of documentation the contract requires, what level of access the service provider will need, what documents can measure the efficacy of a contract, etc. All of these steps need documentation, and these documents need management by document management software.
After the preparation phase, the service provider will receive the contract. The signed contract is the final source of truth for the relationship, so maintaining the integrity of this document is a top priority. Contract management documentation involves storing the contract, delegating access to the right decision-makers, and coordinating any relevant supporting documents.
Once the contract is in place, the administration phase begins. In the administration phase of contract management, detailed records need to be created and organized. To maintain the relationship, detailed invoices, receipts, analytics, and supporting documents must be accessible. Keeping these documents in order and in the right place is essential to administering a contract.
Let FileCenter Guide Your Documentation Journey
Document management doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
Take care of your contracts by trusting the document management experts at FileCenter. Schedule a demo or download a free trial to see how they can revolutionize your contract management documentation today.