You know the drill: to avoid losing hard copy documents, you scan and store documents for future retrieval and sharing. Problem solved, right? You are on your way to a “paperless office,” right?
Not quite. Unless your company has a protocol for what to do with important scanned documents (and contracts definitely fall into that category), then you may be making things worse.
Run-of-the-mill document scanning devices and applications help clean-up the piles of paper on the desks of the finance and administration departments. But scanned documents filed away in a folder (nested in another folder, of another folder) or drive can be forgotten, “mislaid” and overlooked as easily as paper documents.
And that’s dangerous. Who has access to these sensitive documents? Are they being shared across unprotected networks? Also, not centralizing these documents can leave different parties making different changes to the same contract document. Imagine the headache when a note is not entered on a centralized record that notes an important “make good” a vendor owes you. One department says it is owed something from the vendor while another knows nothing about it – and bills as a result of that.
Some large enterprises try to get around this common problem with document retention policies. But more often than not, applying a document retention policy depends on how well your tools do the job for you.
This is one of the better reasons to consider contract management software. Contract Assistant, for example, eliminates file chaos by:
- Providing quick and easy access to important information
- Centralizing a place for all contract records
- Linking to or actually storing electronic versions of paper documents
- Generating standard and custom reports
- Sending automatic reminders of critical dates and more
With Contract Assistant, at least for contract documents and records, you would know there is one place to go, one central repository of information that can then be used appropriately. We can’t guarantee Contract Assistant would help your company go “paperless” (that’s between you and your fleet of printers to determine), but it certainly will help your electronic filing chaos.
Take a moment to think about your business and the vendor contracts that govern its operations. Can you answer these basic, yet crucial, questions?
- Which is your most profitable contract?
- Which is the least profitable?
- Is your business paying for duplicated or overlapping services?
- Which contracts are up for renewal?
- Is your business already past the time to decline any auto-renewals?
If you can answer these questions quickly and confidently, congratulations. But there is a good chance that you don’t have an answer for some or even most of these questions.
It’s easy to think of contract management software as a “nice to have” administrative tool. But having a full-featured contract management tool will give you the kind of information you need to answer the above questions – and know a lot more about the true costs of contracts.
If you think of contract management software as a key reporting tool, you are closer to the mark than thinking of it as primarily “administrative” in nature. Reporting is a crucial step in the contract life cycle and one that can be automated and enhanced by using contract management software.
Contract Assistant, for example, has rich reporting functions. Knowing the importance of reporting to end users, Blueridge Software includes in the Standard Edition a library of starter report templates. At the PRO and Enterprise edition level, users get a rich starter library as well as a report generation tool – Report Designer.
Reporting even basic information on all your company’s contracts on a regular basis for review and analysis can really pay off. Depending on your management structure, contract managers may be required to report on the full spectrum of contract performance metrics, or may only be asked to deliver reports and notifications when exceptions are discovered. In either case, the information gathered from contract management software from the very beginning of a contract becomes the basis for all reporting, no matter the format or detail.
The flexibility of Contract Assistant, for example, allows for so much customization that you can gather data on select fields quickly and easily. If you want to find out more about all the benefits of contract management software, download this complimentary executive summary report, “Contract Management Software – Reduce Risk While Saving Time & Money.”