What is contract management software?

Contract management software facilitates the building, signing, and distribution of legal documents. These cloud and on-premise solutions help your team organize contracts in a central location and reduce the time spent sending documents back and forth between partners during negotiations. Companies who produce and interact with a high volume of contracts related to sales, intellectual property negotiations, leases, and vendor relations will find this software can decrease spending on printing and postage as well as decrease the time it takes finalize deals. This buyer’s guide provides an overview of common features, applications, and the best contract management software vendors in the current market.

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What are some common features of contract management software?

According to a report from the Journal of Contract Management, 71 percent of companies can’t locate up to 10 percent of their contracts. Lost and misplaced contracts aren’t just inconvenient; they also cause issues in future negotiations, sales, and compliance. If your team can’t locate the original document, how can they ensure they’re abiding by the agreed-upon terms? Contract management solutions provide a centralized database of all business contracts, plus some other helpful extras. The best contract management software should includes some or all of the following features:
  • Security: Contracts often contain sensitive proprietary information. Good contract management software will include end-to-end encryption to keep your sensitive data private. Internal security should protect your contracts from unauthorized edits and changes after all parties have agreed on a version. This can be managed with user permissions and automatic change notifications.
  • Organization: Move all of your contracts out of cumbersome filing cabinets and into a central, digital repository. A top contract management system will also provide search capabilities throughout your entire database for easy retrieval, whether that repository is housed on-premise or in the cloud. You should be able to easily construct and maintain your storage hierarchy within the software.
  • Tracking: Notifications and tracking features will keep your entire team up to date on a contract’s movement toward approval. This includes sent/received notifications, as well as updates pertaining to edits, revisions, or negotiations. These features significantly reduce the time it takes a contract to go from authoring to agreement, especially when you send the the document electronically.
  • Reporting: Contract management systems that include reporting and analytics will help your team locate slow steps in your signing process, as well as improve your speed and compliance. You can build reports to understand where your processes break down and to better predict and model best practices along the entire contract lifecycle.

Industry use

More than anything, contract management software seeks to reduce the amount of time and money your team spends sending contracts back and forth. Several industries find contract management software useful throughout the contract lifecycle, from writing and signing to organization and analysis of processes. These industries find contract management software particularly useful: B2B Sales Agreements have historically been the slowest part of the deal-making process, but contract management software helps facilitate the signing process with the added security of encryption. Make sure your deals are secure by sending contracts through your software tools rather than email, which can be easily intercepted. You can also use the software’s reporting tools to identify lags in the signing process and report on macro sales statistics. Intellectual Property While your IP contracts will remain complex, contract management software can ease the process of building and updating contracts for new IP issues with copy and paste features, search functions, and even by electronically adding graphs and diagrams. These tools will also time-stamp dates of generation and signing, which can be used in legal disputes. Real Estate and Property Management Real estate and property management professionals deal with contracts daily, and the sheer number can be overwhelming, especially if all of those contracts live on paper and in filing cabinets. In addition to duplication features, a contract management software can serve as a digital filing cabinet to organize contracts. A side benefit of cloud contract software is that those contracts exist in the cloud, safe from fire or disasters. Construction In addition to building the project, construction companies must deal with complicated, multi-party contracts that require consent from all parties. These contracts also may include agreed-upon deadlines and dependent fees that require tracking and updating. You can set notifications within the contract management software to alert all parties of upcoming deadlines throughout the contract lifecycle.

Tips for comparing solutions

As you search for the best contract management solution for your organization, you’ll want to consider the full capabilities of the software against the needs of your company. Many solutions allow contract sharing between internal and external partners, but if you’re concerned with security and accessibility, you might want to look into how those contracts are relayed to external partners. Email is quick, but unsecured, and some systems limit the number of registered users. If your company produces a lot of similar contracts, make sure the contract management software includes templates in addition to copy features, so you can set base templates that remind you to fill out standard information. As always, keep your industry’s regulatory requirements at hand for reference. Most contract management companies design their software with federal and international regulations in mind, but it’s best to double-check before you commit.

Contract management software case study

Company: Costa Cruises Solution: Concord


Costa Cruise’s European division relies on travel agencies of all sizes to drive revenue. To complete a contract with each of these agencies, Costa Cruise used to send 50-70 page contracts for signature. These long, cumbersome contracts cost Costa Cruise lots of money due to printing and postage and even more time to complete the exchange of documents — sometimes up to two months for a single contract. Costa Cruise needed a contract management system that not only shortened their signing process, but could also store all contracts in a central repository.

The Solution

After researching several contract management systems, Costa Cruise implemented Concord due to its ease-of-use and lack of expensive, unnecessary add-ons. Costa Cruise reports an overall time savings of 97 percent for their contract signing process after implementing Concord with their agent partners. Contracts that used to take up to two months to print, sign, and return now take two days. And because they’re no longer printing reams of paper for each new partnership, Costa Cruise can send copies of contracts to all relevant stakeholders.

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