How to Determine Required Features For Your Contract Management System

Topics: Contract Management Software, Contract Lifecycle Management

Written by Lindsey Paulk

To prepare for the adoption and implementation of a new contract management system, it’s necessary to develop a list of requirements that you are looking for. What features might benefit your contract management processes most? Which features are must-haves and which features could you do without? These questions, along with many others, can help inform you to make the most well-thought-out decision when purchasing a contract management software solution.

Let’s jump right in so that you can specify which features are most important to have in your new contract management software.

Step #1: Determine Stakeholders

Considering all the steps and activities involved in the contract lifecycle, it’s key to note exactly who will be contributing to the completion of each contract. For example, on any given contract, several departments within your organization are involved to assist in the contract lifecycle to offer their support and expertise. These departments include (but are not limited to):

  • Procurement
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Legal
  • IT
  • Signing parties

Before developing the requirements for your new system, identify which areas of need exist based on the input from each department. Ask your employees across departments for their feedback and suggestions for improvement so that you move forward knowing exactly which areas need optimization via contract management software features.

Step #2: Identify Areas of Need

During this step, you’ll document which bottlenecks and obstacles you currently experience during your contract management processes.

We suggest answering some key questions, such as:

  • Is my contract volume too high?
  • Is my staff equipped to successfully manage our current contract volume?
  • Do I have enough staff in the first place?
  • Are turnaround times too slow from approvals to signing?
  • How often do we miss key dates, like expiry dates and auto renewals?
  • Can we integrate with other systems?
  • Do we currently leverage integrations and business solutions?
  • Where can we remove bottlenecks and speed up processes?

Answering these questions can support you in determining how utilizing a contract management system can solve many of these accompanying issues.

Contract Lifecycle Management Using Microsoft 365 - Free contract webinar

Step #3: Identify Your Current Contract Management Process

Adopting a contract management system can support you in redesigning and optimizing your contract-related processes and systems. But first, we recommend notating the processes you currently have in place. These processes include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Process flows
  • Roles and involved stakeholders
  • Adherence to compliance standards and industry regulations
  • Scope of associated documents
  • Existing problems with your contract processes

With this in mind, you can move forward in searching for an appropriate contract management software provider that works to solve existing problems within your current contracting processes.

Step #4: Determine The Scope Required Of The Contract Management System

During contract lifecycle management, there are several critical activities that take place to ensure contracts are authored and executed in the most compliant and accurate manner possible. We suggest taking a look at your organization’s needs and business objectives to decide the scope of contract management practices that your organization should adopt. According to your specific location, industry, contract volume, contract complexity, and contract types, you can determine the scope of the contract management system you’d like to adopt.

How Adopting a Contract Management System Can Help - Contract Webinar

Step #5: Assess The Current Contract Management Software Market

Now that you’ve gained a sufficient understanding of the problems with your current contracting processes and the scope of the solution you’d like to adopt, you can assess the current market of contract management software and select which solution is best fit to resolve various issues.

While researching contract management software, we recommend reviewing the product literature and attending live demos to see the software in action. Different solutions will be equipped with different features, so take note of the features your organization will benefit from most as well as which features you’re least likely to use.

Step #6: Select Required Software Features

Contract management solutions are equipped with several advanced capabilities, integrations, and business software add-ons. To decide upon which features you’d like to require in your solution, we suggest categorizing these features into four distinct requirement types:

  1. Function: allowable contract quantity, allowed quantity of users, ease of use, integrations, security measures
  2. Technology: system layout, cloud-based tech, integrations (electronic signature, CRM, etc.), document storage allotment, user permissions
  3. Business: regulations, objectives, goals
  4. Process: procedures, practices

List your desired software features in order of need and importance. We also suggest notating which features are most critical – the “must-have” features that will be solely responsible for optimizing your current system. These top-priority feature requirements are the ones that will help solve problems and empower your contract lifecycle management.

On the other hand, you can also make note of medium-priority features that are useful, but not necessarily a need. Make a detailed, succinct list of your desired software capabilities rather than an extensive one that will make it extraordinarily difficult to narrow down your software options. And as mentioned before, attending a software demo can be a helpful step that will support you during this process. During a demo, you can see the features functioning live and how they could tangibly support your contracting activities.

It’s also necessary to keep your departments involved in this process. Is there a particular automated feature that could support legal during reviews? How about your finance and procurement departments? Take note so that you can optimize contract lifecycle management throughout the lifecycle for all involved.

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Step #7: Validate Your Software Requirements

Typically, multiple people are involved in ranking and deciding upon the requirements of a contract management system. With different people come different perspectives, areas of expertise, and backgrounds that can support you in deciding upon which solution to adopt. Now during this step, you will review your comprehensive list of software feature requirements and assess your rankings of each feature to ensure that these are in fact, the requirements.

Prior to adopting a contract management system, you should also ensure that your organization is ready to deploy and implement a new contract management software solution. Is your company ready to introduce automation? How about electronic signature integrations? Is your organization able to effectively maintain contract activities during the implementation phase? Preparing for software implementation is crucial, and we suggest taking necessary precautions prior to implementation for a smooth deployment.

For all things contract management software implementation, click here.

The next step is to review your list of software requirements by answering the following questions with stakeholders that are involved in your contract management processes:

  • Will these proposed requirements support our business needs and objectives?
  • Can these software requirements solve current technical and operational problems?
  • Are the “must-have” features appropriately ranked by importance and need?
  • Do any of these requirements have conflicts with other requirements?
  • Are these requirements sufficient – or are they overdone?
  • Have we identified requirements to fulfill all of the needs across all departments involved in contract management?

To finalize your contract management software requirements, you may wish to outsource to a third party to seek their objective opinion on your proposed requirements. You might also seek the guidance of a higher authority to approve your finalized list of software requirements.

Now that you’re equipped with a realistic list of all you need from a contract management system, you can shop around for contract management software providers according to the features in your comprehensive list.

Conclusion

Successful contract lifecycle management is at the core of any thriving business or organization. To get the most out of your contracts, look no further than Dock 365. With cloud security and a solution built onto your SharePoint and existing Office 365 investment, you can make the contract lifecycle simple and productive for all involved.

Interested in our Dock 365 Contract Management System? Click here.

Want to learn more about Contract Lifecyle Management (CLM) Software? Click here.

Schedule a free demo with us today for an in-depth and interactive overview of our Contract Management System.

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