During this series, we have discussed the first five stages of contract lifecycle management: contract request, contract authoring, contract approval, contract execution, and contract storage. Today we will cover the sixth stage of contract lifecycle management: the records management stage.
Stage #6: The Records Management Stage
In the sixth stage of contract lifecycle management, the contract manager and other involved departments will focus their efforts on managing all of their digital contracts. The emphasis is placed on controlling all important documents and digital contracts by utilizing a storage system with backup capabilities and various policies that ensure that your data is secured. In essence, this stage consists of the continued monitoring of compliance of contracts with the assistance of your contract repository.
In addition, you will continue to oversee key contractual obligations after the contract is executed. It is essential to the success of the contract that contractual parties uphold their obligations, which might pertain to deadlines, payment procedures, or performance metrics. In this phase of contract lifecycle management, you essentially ensure compliance by confirming that tasks and responsibilities are being accounted for in a timely manner.
If contractual obligations are missed, you run the risk of incurring some serious financial penalties. And when considering the volume and complexity of digital contracts that your company comes into contact with on a regular basis, effectively and accurately tracking obligations can prove to be a difficult task. A single contract itself can hold a myriad of detailed requirements that are to be monitored and followed exactly. Simply documenting contractual deadlines is insufficient – as there need to be other measures, steps, and assignments in place to ensure that obligations are properly fulfilled.
With Dock, our contract management software solution can help you define your methods to tracking payments, obligations, and milestones with interactive and user-friendly reporting and customizable, automated notifications. You’ll never miss a critical due date again or oversee an obligation with the help of us here at Dock. You can even gain insights on your obligation performance so you can see where areas for growth exist within your current contract management processes.
The Importance of Conducting Audits
You will also want to make sure you conduct audits on all of your organization’s digital contracts so you can analyze their performance. This is key to risk mitigation, helping you identify areas of potential risk and allowing you to make proactive adjustments. By making contract audits a scheduled and standardized practice, you can pinpoint areas of risk exposure and then establish corrective courses of action.
What Does “Records Management” Mean Anyways?
Within the records management stage itself, being that it is an ongoing stage, you will continually refine your contract management processes. The “management” aspect of this stage directly refers to the constant tracking and monitoring of both the safety and security of your stored documents. This stage emphasizes compliance with storage policies, as well as ensuring that security protocols are followed so only authorized users can make changes to documents.
Within your SharePoint contract repository, your digital contracts and related documents are stored in a digital database with SharePoint Backup and Restore features so that your files are supported by the best security measures for the long haul. If a contract is not performing well, it may encounter various penalties or be terminated entirely. Your contract management system will assist in powerful, productive negotiation processes so that you can set up contracts for success. On the contrary, if a contract is performing according to expectations, then you might see a renewal or an extension occur on the contract at hand.
Use Contract Management Software for Informed Decision-Making
When monitoring digital contracts post-execution, you will use your contract management system to gain visibility into the performance and status of your contracts so you can make intelligent decisions as you move forward. By making the most well-informed decisions, you can improve the value, strength, and ROI of your company’s contract management system. During the records management stage, you can analyze how likely a contract will be renewed, oversee the progress of critical obligations and milestones, and stay in the loop of alerts regarding autorenewals.
Dock helps simplify records management with automated alerts and notifications, a feature of your contract management system that will notify you when a contract is approaching its expiration date. To explain a bit further, here are some of the most common steps involved in the records management stage:
5 Common Steps During the Records Management Stage
Ensure compliance – this is the main objective of records management. With effective compliance to strict regulations and contract terms, you can decrease contractual risk. A lack of compliance only leads to the potential for a financial downfall and broken business partnerships.
Renewal management – in the records management stage, you will want to keep track of contract renewal dates so that your team is properly prepared. Your Dock Contract Management System will alert you of contract expiration dates so that you can renew contracts in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary consequences.
Constant tracking – by tracking your digital contracts continuously, you will avoid missing performance opportunities and deadlines. With performance metrics and other critical contract-related data at your fingertips on an interactive dashboard, you can see how vendors are working in relation to their contractual obligations, for example.
Data integration – over many stages of contract lifecycle management, your contract management software utilizes various advanced integrations to make each stage that much easier. View your contract data in a comprehensive format so you can pinpoint where areas of inefficiency are present, allowing you to be more aware and equipped to optimize your system.
Contract performance monitoring – After a digital contract is executed, you can analyze important performance values on your contracts. With Dock, you can review many pieces of data which will help you make better business decisions as you move forward. Analyzing the duration of contract lifecycles, savings, expiration and renewal information, and other data points is made simple here at Dock.
Stay Involved With Your Digital Contracts
It is essential that contract managers and business professionals involved in the contract lifecycle management process effectively enforce records management. This is because it is not only central to ensuring compliance over your digital contracts, but also to holistically supporting your organization’s contracts. With records management, it helps to document the contact management decisions made and why you made them. In this manner, you can have documentation of actions taken so you can refer to and analyze the results of each action.
We suggest that contract managers modernize their records management stage of contract lifecycle management so that that they can mitigate risk an promote organizational compliance. If your company’s records management system is subpar or insufficient, then it’s time to innovate – it will only increase the value your contract management system overall.
Written by Lindsey Paulk
Lindsey Paulk is a Content Writer in Jacksonville, Florida that specializes in digitally communicating all-things contract management.