Contract management is an ongoing process. From the second the ink dries on the signatures until the contract is completely fulfilled, ended, and archived, it’s the responsibility of appropriate departments to keep track of them. While the old-school filing system is still necessary for important paper documents, digital contract management is the best way to stay on top of contract management. These dos and don’ts guide you through how a digital contract management system will get you better results.
First, make sure that you can find your contracts within the system. You should add a few descriptive keywords to each contract when you’re first entering the digital copy. Make the first one obvious: all contracts should have a “contract” keyword attached to them. Add in the client’s name or project identifier, and other information that could be used to identify it. Usually this is at minimum the dates that the contract will be active and the department it pertains to. Feel free to adjust this to fit the system your business employees to file all their digital files. The point of using multiple keywords is that it allows the contract to be found in multiple ways. If one of the keywords is left off accidentally, it should still be possible to find the contract in many other ways.
Contract management involves a regular checking in on the progress of the contract. Digital archives allow you to easily refer to the contract on a regular basis. Keeping the information current in your mind and in the system, enables you to have the contract at your fingertips whenever you need it. Don’t let your files gather dust, whether they occupy physical space or digital memory.
Every addendum, alteration, and signature needs to be carefully recorded. Many contract management offices put all contracts through several levels of document capture. You could use a document capture software to recognize the characters and make a digital copy of the content of the contract. This is great for stock forms and standard contracts that you’re issuing en-mass. Additionally, take the time to photocopy the completed forms. Signatures and handwritten information can be difficult to capture with an automated reading program. Multiple forms of recording contracts will guard against different kinds of problems.
Even if you’re gathering in responses to stock forms, have it pass by the legal department before it gets archived. Any mistakes should be caught as early in the process as possible. Use your digital contract management software to make sure the files are routed to the correct people. Permissions masks ensure that confidentiality is respected at every stage.
Digital contract management is easier and more efficient than relying on paper and ink. Follow these dos and don’ts to get the most from your system. Just remember: the more records you have, the better.