Worldwide stats show that 300 million emails are sent every day. Approximately a third of those emails are business-related.
While the number of contracts and other important documents processed on a daily basis will be substantially lower, the figures above illustrate the sheer amount of digital paperwork that organizations deal with.
In a typical organization, significant amounts of time and resources are dedicated to creating, sending and tracking documents like contracts, proposals, invoices, purchase orders, client forms, and so on.
The infrastructure and practices underlying this process are collectively referred to as “contract management.” In this post, we’ll explore how contract management works, why it matters, and how organizations can use modern apps to streamline their document workflows.
How Does Contract Management Work?
Contract management usually involves five related phases. Here is a brief overview of each one:
- Contract drafting – The “creation” stage of an individual document workflow consists of designing a structure for a document, writing relevant sections, uploading rich media like images, ensuring appropriate client fields, like e-signature fields, are included, and adding corporate branding. Pre-existing templates are often used to save time.
- Internal approval – After a document has been drafted, it will usually need to be approved by certain individuals within an organization, such as senior managers and legal experts.
- Client signing – After a document has been approved, it is sent to the prospective client. This stage may involve the use of tracking software. Follow-up correspondence, either to prompt unresponsive recipients or answer questions, may also be involved.
- Secure storage – Signed contracts (or other documents) should be stored securely online in case they need to be checked.
- Follow-up and renewal – For long-term clients, contracts may require renewal after a period of time.
What Is Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) Software?
The term “contract lifecycle management (CLM) software” refers to any app used to streamline an organization or individual’s document workflow.
Features of contract management apps typically include automation tools (particularly in regards to notifications), electronic signature functionality, a document editor, secure storage for documents, integrations with third-party platforms, recipient analytics, a templates library, and team collaboration spaces.
CLM Software: Quick Reviews
Here are reviews of three of the top CLM platforms currently on the market:
- PandaDoc – PandaDoc is a leading CLM brand. Its comprehensive platform provides an array of features, including electronic signatures, an intuitive document editor, industry-leading secure online storage, automation tools, an extensive integrations library (including a Zapier connector), and access to a large library of pre-written templates. The free plan, which doesn’t carry any document send or e-signature limits, is ideal for freelancers and organizations that want to sample the software. A custom-priced enterprise plan is available.
- ContractWorks – ContractWorks, which offers a comprehensive set of features, is geared more towards larger businesses that prefer a plan that isn’t priced on a per-user basis like most other providers. The downside to ContractWorks is that other caps are included, such as on the number of documents that can be sent every month, and each plan comes with a limited set of “signature licenses.”
Proposify – Proposify bills itself as “proposal software” but offers all the functionality of a multi-use document management solution. Its team plan, priced at $49 per user per month, includes integrations, a document editor, electronic signatures, corporate branding, and various automation tools. In addition, it offers a long-term but limited free plan (five active documents maximum).