Your business runs on contracts, and as the company grows, so too do contract volumes. How do you keep track of contracts at scale?
The journey of a contract from one end of the lifecycle to the other can take some time, and involve lots of different stakeholders within the company. Tracking your contracts’ progress before and after signature is a key step in achieving a more efficient workflow.
This page explains how and why legal and business teams track contracts, addressing key issues that impede contract visibility. Use the menu below to navigate this page.
What is contract tracking?
Contract tracking is the process whereby stakeholders in the contract lifecycle - particularly in legal - are able to know where a contract is in its lifecycle, without having to investigate across multiple systems.
Contracts go through several key stages during their lifecycle:
Create: the agreement is created
Collaborate: colleagues work on the document internally
Negotiate: the counterparty suggest redlines and makes changes
Sign: both parties sign the contract (often via eSignature)
Track: contract analytics are monitored post-signature
Renew: the contract might have an auto-renewal clause to monitor
A key challenge for everyone concerned with contracts, but particularly for in-house legal teams who usually ‘own’ them, is visibility. A contract might have been created, with a particular outcome in mind - a closed deal, a new employee, an agreed partnership - but often colleagues have no way of knowing where that document is up to.
The ideal state is for there to be transparency (internally) at each stage of the process for those who need it. If a VP of sales wants to know how far their prospect has gone in negotiating the contract, they should be able to find out immediately.
Similarly if a salesperson wants to know who is sitting on their contract, which is waiting to be approved, it’s useful for them to be able to find out without calling or emailing the legal team.
Why is contract tracking important?
Without contract tracking, it’s difficult to be aware of contracts’ progress through the lifecycle. This can lead to various bad outcomes:
Friction on deals: if either party can’t work out who the contract currently sits with, this can introduces delay into sales cycles (for example) and threaten revenue targets
Friction between teams: without visibility, teams can end up blaming each other for delays in getting contracts signed. This can sour relationships, particularly between legal and business teams
Risk: if the relevant stakeholders aren’t able to keep track of contract content, or negotiations, then non-standard terms and language could creep into the document, leading to unacceptable risks for the business
Missing contracts: if contract tracking breaks down post-signature, then legal documents can be difficult or impossible to find. Without a secure database, companies can be left struggling to monitor risks and contract renewals, or to recognise revenue.
How to enable contract tracking for your business
The first thing to do to enable contract tracking is simply to start. It might not be necessary to kick off a software deployment - you can get to base camp and have visibility across the lifecycle by starting with something like this free contract repository spreadsheet.
If your contract volumes are at all significant, and growing, then you’re likely to hit the limits of what can be achieved with a spreadsheet before too long. At this point you might be ready for an all-in-one contract automation platform.
If you’re exploring vendors for contract automation, there are several key features that you’ll need to enable contract tracking. But at a global level, it’s worth taking the time to find a digital contracting platform that enables you to create and manage contracts in-browser, as structured data, rather than as static files.
This kind of API-first solution will make it much easier to generate the data you’ll need to track contracts properly, and integrate contracts with other key business systems, like Salesforce, Slack or Workday.
Contract tracking software: key features
You’ll also benefit from the following features:
This feature enables contract owners (usually legal teams) to make sure they approve each contract before it’s sent out to counterparties. Keeping control is a key aim of contract tracking for legal teams.
This is a great feature for contract tracking - users can see who’s viewed, edited, approved or otherwise interacted with the contract, and when. They can also scroll back through the timeline and with one click, access previous versions instantly.
By mentioning a colleague with an ‘@’ in the sidebar, users can draw each other’s attention to a particular issue that might need their attention. This increases visibility as changes are made to the document.
If contract volumes are high, it’s useful to be able to arrange them in a table to quickly see their status. A Kanban view, like the below, is effective in helping teams to progress contracts quickly through the creation and approval process.
In Juro, users can set custom reminders for relevant dates in contracts, to make sure they don’t auto-renew, or expire, without relevant stakeholders knowing about it. By setting up reminders, users can ensure the right people get an email reminder and costly, unwanted auto-renewals are avoided.
By integrating your contract automation platform with Slack, it’s possible to set up notifications that alert team members in Slack when certain actions take place. For example, the #sales channel might want notifications when counterparties sign, or when they negotiate terms in the document. Setting up this integration helps to make contract tracking visible for everyone - not just those who work with contracts every day.
Contract tracking at scale, in-browser
If a lack of visibility into the contract workflow is giving you a headache around contract tracking, you’re not alone. Read more about how Juro solves this problem in these case studies, or just hit the button below to get in touch and find out more.