3 terrible ways to spend your time on contracts

image of frustrated personEver feel like you’re not making any progress at work? Of course – everyone feels that way sometimes. It’s hardly a problem unique to any particular industry or role, but these days the constant flow of information from many sources is making information overload a very real issue.

There was even a one-day conference recently held in San Francisco dubbed “Overloaded 2014” that brought together a host of speakers to address the topic of “information overload” (and ways to combat it).

At the root of the problem, however, is not necessarily that there is too much information (when push comes to shove, people are happy with more data, not less). Instead, the real problem is that employees and managers alike find time management an issue and time-wasting tasks to be the bane of productivity.

With all the competing claims on everyone’s time and attention there’s not much room for doing repetitive tasks that take too much time. But wasting employees’ time and efforts is exactly what companies do when they don’t invest in contract management.

All too often, companies of all sizes still maintain paper records of contracts, or simply opt to allow the default: let managers store contracts on their computers or assistant’s computers, often in a variety of formats (PDFs, Word files, Excel files), often with no discernable organization.

This method guarantees that companies without a contract management solution are finding great ways to bog down their employees with time-sucking tasks.

If you or your employees have anything to do with contracts – and your company does NOT have a contract management solution — you may be familiar with these tasks.

1. Looking up contract start and end dates.

This is a truly ridiculous way to spend your time on contracts if you are still keeping your files scattered around the office on different employees’ computers. Why? Because even if you designate someone the holder of contract, there’s no guarantee that the information you’re seeing is up to date or accurate. What if someone decided to shift the end date 30 days … and failed to relay that to the person “in charge” of minding that particular contract.

2. Reviewing contracts for deliverables/supplier commitments.

Without creating an electronic record for each contract and recording items such as key clauses/elements or commitments, your organization means it is relying on interpretation of supplier performance on contract language. That can be a dangerous idea. Contract language can be anything but clear or even easily understandable to the average lay reader.

3. Finding key contacts responsible for supplier/vendor contracts.

If you think about it, does the signature at the bottom of a contract really tell you much about the key people who made that contract really happen? The problem here is that before there is a contract between two companies, there was a business relationship established, first. Somewhere, at some time, someone from your company dealt with the person who made that contract happen on the other side of the table. The signature at the bottom of the contract won’t necessarily be that person.

This may seem like a minor point, but even over a modest period of time, key stakeholders in a business relationship my change jobs, leave their employers, etc. What happens, then, in an emergency or when a problem arises that requires “those who know” how things work to get in a room and hammer out a problem?

Each of these time-wasters may be individually frustrating. Now multiply these tasks by the number of contracts you may have in-house. It’s not unusual for even medium-sized businesses to have hundreds of existing contracts.

With a contract management solution such as Contract Assistant, you’ve reduced all of the above tasks to (literally) a few or a handful of clicks. By creating a central database for all your records, your company will have eliminated not just time-wasters like the above – but all of the trouble, headaches and simply bad information that can seriously impact over all productivity.

And with today’s information overload working environment, anything that reduces a time-consuming task to a few clicks is worth the investment.

[Photo Credit: couragextoxlive via Compfight cc]

[About the author: Todd Hyten is a former business journalist who now writes about B2B topics and consults on content marketing. You can find him on Twitter and ]