No matter why type of business you run or how many employees you have, chances are that somewhere along the daily operation of your company you’ll be dealing with contracts. Whether these are related to sales, procurement, real estate, employment or anything else, these are essential to modern businesses and it’s important to keep track of them closely.
In the past, the management of contracts and the process of contract lifecycle management was undertaken by a singular employee or division. Although this worked, for the most part, having your CLM solutions performed manually could be costly, will take up much-needed man hours, and leaves plenty of room for human error to occur.
As a response to the needs for a streamlined approach to managing contracts, contract management software was born, and since its initial offering, it has progressed to something far more efficient and beneficial for businesses to have.
However, with so many options now available it can be tough to find the perfect fit for your company.
With that in mind, we have created this handy buying guide that shows you through the important features you’ll want from a contract management service, and how these invaluable tools offer you a way to save time, money, and energy for your company.
With the right program in place, you can have an automated contract lifecycle management in place which gives you time and money to spend on growing your business further.
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If you’ve never used a contract management software program before and relied on the traditional method of an employee or division handling these processes, you might be wondering what exactly makes them so great.
Basically put, contract management software should be a mix of data, libraries, and programs that all work together to help streamline your contract management needs so that you can get rid of paper contracts in your business.
There are many benefits to making the switch to contract management software and getting rid of the manual work required for this delicate process, and depending on the software you choose you can find one that suits exactly what your business needs.
Here are just a few reasons why you might choose to switch to the best contract management services possible.
By moving your contract lifecycle management to an automatic system, you’re saving the company and its employees an incredible amount of time.
With one of these software programs in place, you’re making the process automatic and efficient so you have more time and energy to focus elsewhere, and one dedicated program to handle all of the administrative tasks involved.
We all know that human error is a real and serious risk to most businesses in terms of their administrative duties, and particularly in the case of contract management.
When you trust one of the contract management software programs to handle the process, you’re reducing the risk of lost paperwork, miscalculated figures, and other potential problems.
These programs can work based on your set criteria such as approval workflows and business rules so they will be far more stringent than a human or division ever could.
These programs allow you to standardize contract language and track deviations from these and other processes, meaning all contracts are managed the same way.
The entire contract lifecycle management is done in the one place and with set rules in place, so there’s no chance that it can waver from this.
The best contract management software will allow for stringent reporting, tracking, and data analysis so that this is all taken care of without having to give it a second thought.
Auditing is available at the click of a button and they each address the relevant legislation and compliance management regulations set in place by various governing bodies.
Regardless of the reasons you choose to switch to these automatic processes, there’s bound to be the perfect fit for you out there.
However, before you can go ahead and purchase one for your company you should first consider the features possible and how each of them can help you maximize your efficiency and manage your compliance.
When you begin your quest to find the best contract management software, you might find the sheer range of features overwhelming. Some of these programs pride themselves on a plethora of features, whereas others have quite a basic approach.
Depending on your style of business and employees, these are a few features you should strongly consider when looking at contract management software comparison options:
One of the key features of contract management software is compliance assurance, and how it can be used to reduce the risk for your company. This is done with a range of features such as automatic auditing and tracking of edits to ensure everything is done to a set standard.
This software should allow you to create your own contracts and design them as you wish but also use contracts from a range of templates. Many offer just one click contracts which make for a highly efficient process.
Because there are different approval levels for every company, you need to have the feature available that allows you to assign these accordingly. In addition, each contract should have special approval levels as well because no two are usually the same.
Most contract management programs will allow for one or two master users which can customize templates and change settings, and then other profiles for employees to use. This means you have greater control over permissions and settings which reduce the risk for breaks in compliance as well.
When dealing with these type of online accounts and cloud-based platforms, a contract management software with a strong security coverage is essential. Data security is a must have feature of any software and in particular, one that deals with such sensitive information as a contract management suite.
The ability to create instant reports and gather data from search functions is another crucial feature of the best contract management software.
This means you’re able to pull up contracts quickly, search for any that contain specific terms or conditions, and sort through those in a particular time period.
This function is one that sets these automatic contracts apart from manual paper-based ones and offers a huge efficiency factor.
When dealing with computers and automated record management as these programs do, OCR (optical character recognition) is an important feature to have.
When a software is unable to correctly read written or printed information it can make it difficult to move your manual and hardcopy files onto a system such as this and you will be set up for difficulties before you even begin.
Depending on the style of contract management software you choose, you need to carefully consider the payment options and plans. Some offer a flat fee that covers the entire software program, others are an annual cost, and some are per month and depending on how many users you have.
No two contract management services are the same, and it’s hard to say until you’ve tested them yourself what will work for you.
Thankfully, many of these programs offer a free trial or demo version of the software so you can get real life experience using their features and then choose to upgrade to the full edition if you’re happy with how they manage your contracts.
After weighing up the important features of contract management software, we’ve narrowed down the choices to just five of our top picks.
Looking through countless contract management software reviews can be time-consuming, and when you have a business to run time is something you don’t usually have, so here are our choices for the best software options and how each of them stands out from the rest.
If you’re into simplicity and efficiency with your contract management, you’ll appreciate everything that Contractually has to offer. This is one of the more modern versions of contract management software you’ll find around, and it’s offered only as a cloud-based system.
For anyone looking for a software service they can download on their work servers, this isn’t for you.
Contractually places a huge focus on collaboration, and the aim of this program is to make one place for all parties to work together, edit, share and finalize the details of contracts. There is multi-level workflow permissions, as well as the ability to invite others.
Because it’s all cloud-based, there’s no limit to who you can invite with the right approvals, so it’s certainly one of the more flexible options.
In terms of features and customization, this is probably the most limited in what it offers. Some companies may want the ability to adjust things to suit their distinct needs, but for those who have a fairly basic contract lifecycle management approach then this will be right up your alley.
It’s simple to use, there aren’t too many functions and features to master, but it does exactly what it was made to do.
Contractually allows you to share documents and contracts with others so there’s no need for printing, signing, scanning, and other processes which can take up your time. If you want a no fuss approach to your contract management and don’t have too much customization required to make it work for you, Contractually is certainly one of the better options available.
If you’ve already spent some time searching for a contract management software to meet your needs, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the Agiloft name before. As one of the most popular contract management suites, it’s no wonder that Agiloft has made our list and this is due to the comprehensiveness of this program.
Agiloft leads in terms of customization, with just about everything you can think of able to be edited and adapted to suit your business. While this can be a huge bonus for some companies, others may find the sheer depth of these customizations to be a turnoff and instead opt for something simple and to the point.
There are two settings on Agiloft’s software with both users and staff having their own capabilities, which is helpful if you have different permissions required for contracts and approvals.
A huge bonus of this program is that they offer a 90-day money back guarantee so even if you’ve been trialing it at your workplace and find it doesn’t work for whatever reason, you’ll receive a full refund on what you’ve paid.
This suite features everything you could ask for in a contract lifecycle management system with one click contract creation, flexible workflow approvals, and automatic redlining that prevents rogue edits.
Once in place, you’ll never have to give a second thought to your contract management so you can get on with building your business. Agiloft is one of the leaders in this type of software, and after just a few minutes of use, it’s easy to see why.
With another popular name in contract management software, Concord Now offers companies a huge variety in the contracts they work with. With everything from client and vendor contracts to human resources, you can truly do it all with just one software program and it’s an invaluable tool to have for any size business.
One of the best things about Concord Contract Management is its compliance features, so if this is of particular importance to your company then this will be a good fit. It has an automated audit trail so there’s no need to worry about backing up information, and this includes all messages related to contracts and any minor or major edits.
There are a few options for pricing plans with Concord, but by far the most attractive thing about this software is the free plan.
This gives you basic usage of the program so there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars a year just to have a quality contract management software working for your company. If you like what you see, you’re always able to upgrade further and benefit from the other features too.
Concord Now is only available as a cloud-based platform which may not be suitable for all businesses, so if you want the option for a downloadable program this won’t be right for you.
However, this could be a positive for those businesses that require multiple sign-offs or require access from countries across the world, especially since it has e-signature capabilities recognized in over 130 of them worldwide.
As one of the first companies ever to offer contract management software over 20 years ago, CobbleStone Systems are still leaders in their field. The Contract Insight software system is proof of this quality and innovation, offering up one of the most comprehensive programs for your contract lifecycle management.
There are so many options for customization with Contract Insight which makes it a top choice for those businesses who are especially unique. However, with all of this customization comes the task of learning the features and taking the time to make it suit your needs, so you’ll need to be prepared to put in the time and energy during setup to allow it to work for you.
For those after a simple and general approach to their contract management, you’ll probably prefer something less complicated.
There isn’t much that you can’t do with Contract Insight and it’s great for small business owners and up to larger enterprises. This program offers email alerts, workflow, cost control, rich searching, legal hold, and security checks just to name a few features, and if you put each of them to good use you’ll really be getting value for money with this management software.
One slight issue with Contract Insight is the lack of a trial period, as this can help a business really determine whether it’s a good fit. This aside, though, there really isn’t too much you can fault with the software provided you’re willing to commit some time and energy during setup to make it customizable to your company and their contract management needs.
If you’re a small business owner and feeling a bit overwhelmed by how detailed some of these contract management services can be, you’ll be very happy to have found Contract Assitant. This program was designed with the small business owner in mind and gives you just enough features to make your company more efficient and profitable in terms of contract management.
The key difference with Contract Assistant is that it’s all run with a downloadable software service and there are no cloud or remote access options available. This means your data and your client’s data are safe on your systems, so it suits those who are still a little wary about the cloud technology and what it means for sensitive information.
Contract Assitant has just the right level of customization as well, so if you’re previously been deterred by some of the other programs and just how much you can change things then this will be right up your alley. For others who want a little more flexibility, you’ll likely see this as a disadvantage, so it all depends on what you’re looking for in contract management services.
This is well within most company’s budgets as well, however, you’re better off not going with the Standard edition as it’s quite limited in what it can offer. The software itself is intuitive and makes for a very user-friendly experience which can be an added bonus for staff who aren’t particularly tech-savvy.
If you’re looking for a basic contract management software approach then Contract Assistant is ideal for small businesses.
As you can see by the current market of these types of software, there are so many great options available for companies looking to take the next step and streamline their contract management. Just as every business is unique, though, so too is the top choice for contract management software that will provide the perfect fit.
After weighing up all of the options, though, the clear winner for best overall contract management software would have to be Agiloft.
Not only is Agiloft Contract Management globally regarded as the best performing software, but it has just the right amount of customization to make it work for your business.
There were some other great options, but this one seemed to tick more of the boxes and work in all areas overall than the rest.
For those who are looking for the best contract management software for small business, our top choice is Contract Assistant. Because you can use this as a standalone system with no need to access a cloud, it speaks to small business owners in particular.
A close runner up was CobbleStone Systems’ however there was a little too much customization possible for a small business’ needs.
Any business that was previously on the fence about changing their contract management services to an automatic system should now clearly see the numerous benefits. Eventually, all businesses will use these platforms whether they’re cloud based or as a stand alone system, and make for a more efficient and better-performing workplace.