Using SharePoint as a Contract Management Solution

Contract management becomes more complex as your organization continues to grow. A scalable system needs to address the moving elements and personnel obligations intertwined with managing contracts. It should also increase efficiency and ensure compliance is met throughout the management process.  Using a customizable solution like SharePoint as your contract management system (CMS), will make efficient use of your time when it comes to searching or compiling contract information.

Requirements for a Successful Contract Management System

Creating an online repository for contracts and legal documents allows for greater insight, control and access to critical data throughout the contract life-cycle. It can aide the progression of contract interactions to make certain that obligations and objectives are met while providing a profitable interaction for your business.
Adding new employees, vendors, partners and customers to your growing list of contracts is great for your organization, but managing these in an efficient manner isn’t always a given considering all the moving elements of contract management. The key requirements to a successful contract management system should include:

  • Workflows and Notifications. By setting custom workflows, spend thresholds and review/approval requests through automated processes you are sure to optimize the time spent on maintaining contracts. Assigning the workflow tasks to delegated individuals ensures no business opportunities are missed.
  • Variations and Versioning.  Ensure all parties are working with the latest version of the contract, no matter how many times the original draft has been amended. Major or minor versions can be tracked and reverted to as the need arises.
  • Audit Trails and Renewals. Regulations and guidelines for compliance and security vary from industry to industry. Utilize audit trails to trace detailed transactions and make certain there is a record of changes throughout the contract life-cycle as well as flagging appropriate records for renewal alerts.

SharePoint Features

Automating the process of contract production and management remains the ultimate goal of those seeking a “paperless” method. Using SharePoint as a solution will allow you to leverage some of its other sought after features:

  • Central Repository. SharePoint becomes a centralized repository for storing critical business content. Capture obligations, milestones and signed documentation in a portal that is accessible through an internet browser. The accessibility allows items to be actioned regardless of device or physical location. The ability to work off-line means that even without a reliable internet connection, contracts can still be worked on.
  • Enhanced Search. With custom content types, various ways to views the data and metadata assigned to your contracts, end users become more efficient and productive as they have quick access to the information they are seeking. The enhanced search capabilities of a SharePoint environment is perhaps one of its biggest selling points among enterprise solutions.
  • Microsoft Office Suite Integration.  SharePoint has deep integration with the Microsoft productivity suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.). This means legal and contract teams can rely on the tools they are already comfortable working with to easily draft, review, and assign permissions to their contract management process.
  • Security and Restrictions. SharePoint has advanced security features that can adequately address the confidential and sensitive information contained in contracts. With the ability to restrict access to files from a user or group of users you are able to reduce the chances that sensitive business data or terms of agreements ends up in the hands of competitors.

Things to Consider

As your company realizes its current approach to contract management needs a comprehensive and customizable solution, streamlining and improving the process will become an integral part of ensuring business success.

Utilizing a SharePoint environment to manage your contracts can increase the efficiency of renewals and automate the process of searching for and compiling contract information. The accuracy of client and company information ensures that all reporting details and compliance measures are met successfully.

Once management has decided to invest company time and resources into a contract management system, deploying a platform that scales long-term should be a “must-have” capacity. Clearly define and limit the scope of what you expect your new contract management system to deliver. Software solutions rarely exceed user expectations across several wide-ranging requirements. For instance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a system that can template, audit, provide enterprise search capabilities and function as time keeping and your invoicing system. Focusing on a limited number of high priority requirements, or addressing you key pain points will ensure users assimilate to new technologies with ease.