What is contract management software and how do I start?

Richard Mabey, 1 July 2019

Learn about the features and benefits of contract management software, the teams that use it, and how to get started with implementing an automated contract workflow.

What is contract management software?

Contract management software is used to create, negotiate, sign, renew and gather actionable data on legal contracts. It enables business teams to self-serve from templates owned by legal, so the business can agree and manage routine contracts at scale from one unified workspace.

This page addresses and explains the most common questions we encounter about contract management. If you'd like to skip the reading and try it for yourself, just hit the button πŸ‘‡

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Understanding contracts | Why is contract management important? 

The contract management process: Create | Collaborate | Negotiate | Sign | Track | Renew

Software integrations | Benefits | Users | Implementation | Business case | Pricing | Vendor reviews | Case studies | Find out more

Understanding contracts

juro-contract-automation-png

Contracts are pretty simple. Two or more parties get together to assign some rights and obligations. They agree, and then they have to abide by that agreement. If something goes wrong later on, everyone can look back at the contract to find out what they promised.

But while in some respects contracts haven't changed too much, the volume and processes involved in managing contracts at scaling businesses has changed significantly. A business like Deliveroo might manage thousands of contracts a month. Taking contracts into an automated, digital process is transformative when it comes to efficiency, speed and cost - which is why so many fast-growth businesses turn to Juro to provide all-in-one contract automation.

Why is contract management important?

Poorly managed contract processes can result in exposure to serious legal risk: 80% of B2B revenue is governed by contracts. Similarly, huge amounts of time is wasted due to inefficient manual contracting - the IACCM found that 92% of time on contracts goes on process.

Poor contract management causes friction between teams, and a lack of velocity can harm a company’s ability to close deals. Poor management of the lifecycle can result in key dates being missed, which can lead to expensive renewal costs. A key aim of contract management is to establish a system of record to mitigate this risk.

What is the contract management process?

The typical workflow for contract management is create - collaborate - negotiate - sign - track - renew

This is how each stage of the lifecycle works, comparing the manual process to an automated process using Juro's contract management software.

1. Create

Contracts have to start somewhere. Nowadays that's most often a template. Here's how it's done.

Manual contract creation process:

  • Write the contract from scratch in Microsoft Word; or more likely ...
  • Find an old Word or PDF version of the contract you're trying to create, copy/paste the text, and change key details to reflect the parties, dates, addresses, pricing and so on for the new contract.
  • This process has a severe risk of errors due to mistakes being made during copy/paste, or key details not being updated. It's also slow and painful.

Contract creation in Juro:

  • Use a custom-built, browser-native editor to create a contract template. Do this for each contract you want to automate.
  • Users answer a natural language Q&A to generate a contract from this template self-serve, with key fields populated by the Q&A answers as smart fields containing metadata.
  • This process reduces the risk of errors as new contracts are always generated from the latest set of terms that the legal team controls. It also takes just a few seconds.

It's important to note that contracts don't have to be created natively within your contract management software. For example, in Juro you can drag and drop existing PDFs into the platform, and sign and manage them as you would a natively created document.

juro-nda-non-disclosure-agreement-UI

The Juro editor is custom-built to create beautiful contracts that support rich media. Click above to try it.

2. Collaborate

Contracts are key business documents with lots of stakeholders, so they are frequently subject to internal collaboration, often between teams. For example, a technology supplier agreement could touch IT, legal, procurement and compliance. And those teams and individuals might be in different offices, or different countries, making it difficult to get them all in the same room. Here's how it's done:

Manual contract collaboration:

  • Mark up changes to the document in tracked changes in Word.
  • Email the document to your colleague to review / accept / reject changes and save a new version.
  • Repeat ad nauseum, hoping that you keep track of the latest version, until the contract is approved.

Contract collaboration in Juro:

  • Colleagues can collaborate on the document in-browser in real time, using mentions to tag other users.
  • Once the draft is ready, use an automated workflow to send it to designated approvers.
  • Use the timeline in Juro to scroll back through time to see previous versions of the document with one clickπŸ‘‡

juro-timeline-panel-pngTravel back through your contract's history with one click. Click above to try it.

3. Negotiate

The first draft of a contract is rarely where it ends up - contentious terms like purchase price, or the wording of an exclusivity or non-disclosure agreement, are likely to be modified many times before everyone agrees. Here's how it's done:

Manual contract negotiation:

  • Counterparties run redlines by adding tracked changes in Word, then email the latest version back to the other side.
  • These changes are accepted, rejected, or subject to new suggestions, saved into a new version, and sent back via email.
  • This is repeated until either both parties agree or version control breaks down and the process restarts.

Contract negotiation in Juro:

  • Negotiate contracts in-browser, making comments and suggestions in the sidebar or by editing contract text.
  • The other side is notified via email, or in Slack if you set up the Slack integration, and can accept or reject changes in-browser too.
  • Crucially, the audit trail of negotiation data is preserved - teams can learn from negotiation patterns, and action their learnings.

Contract management software lets you do contract negotiation in real time, online, with change tracking, rather than editing documents, printing, scanning, and couriering them around town ad nauseam. Getting everyone around a table to thrash out an agreement - however acrimoniously - is no longer necessary.

Negotiate in Juro

Negotiate your contracts in-browser, staying control of redline visibility. Click above to try it.

4. Sign

Digital platforms offer technology that can replicate the binary, permanent character of a physical signature. Some want you to paste a scanned version of a written signature; some want you to type your name; some will let you draw it with a mouse. Here's how it's done.

Manual contract signing:

Contract signing in Juro:

  • Juro has native, secure, mobile-responsive eSignature, meaning parties can sign seamlessly and safely on any device, without having to pay for an eSignature solution like DocuSign separately.
  • Parties are instantly and automatically emailed a PDF version of their fully signed contract.

The authorities have given their blessing to e-signatures as legally robust in dozens of jurisdictions, including the US, the UK and the EU, Australia and Japan. Find out more here.

 

5. Track

What happens to your contract after it's signed? How do you keep track of obligations and make sure your contract data is easy to search as and when you need to? Here's how it's done.

Manual contract tracking:

  • Your contract lives in a filing cabinet on paper, and you have no reliable way to search both for and within contracts.
  • Slightly better but not much - your contracts live as Word or PDF files on a shared drive. These are built from unstructured data and are almost as difficult to search through. This pain point is why some businesses have to buy contract review software.
  • With this method, it’s pretty difficult to know how long it took to negotiate, which clauses were changed, how many people read it, and how many people use it as the basis of other contracts, the key enforcement dates and who's seen it. 

Contract tracking in Juro:

  • Your contract was created and managed as structured data, so all of this information is available
  • You can use it to make smarter decisions about which clauses to stand firm on, and which to let slide; when to renew, how much to charge, which notice period to define - all of these decisions can be improved with some data to lean on. The potential to mitigate risk is also huge.

Monitoring data in legal is in line with the modernization of legal departments, particularly in-house, in the field of legal operations. The most innovative organisations are building data dashboards to which they can log in each day, monitoring the performance of legal in many different areas - including contract automation. Find out more in our eBook on legal operations.

juro-analytics

Keep track of your contract analytics to spot bottlenecks faster. Click above to try it.

6. Renew

Many contracts need to be renewed after a defined period, but it can be hard to keep track of these key dates and remember to review terms, or cancel if you'd like to end the agreement. Here's how it's done.

Manual contract renewal:

  • Users manually add key dates from contracts to their calendars, to set reminders for themselves when renewal or cancellation dates are looming.
  • This approach carries obvious risk, as key dates are often missed due to errors or lack of transparency.

Contract renewal in Juro:

  • Users define renewal reminders on the contract, as well as the recipients who should get them when the time comes.
  • The relevant stakeholders receive email reminders ahead of the key date, to avoid any nasty surprises.

juro-contract-renewal-reminder-pngNever miss a renewal date again. Click above to try it.

This feature in Juro enables users to take an holistic view of contracts, enabled by contracts data. Signature doesn't represent the end of the contracting process, but rather the beginning; a multitude of obligations and milestones will follow for the people involved. At the end of the lifecycle, users can jump back to contract creation and begin all over again. They may also need to feed amendments into the contract, and again, contract management software can help.

Contract management integrations

Asking employees to adopt new software of any kind is always a challenge. To make it more likely that contract management software is actually adopted and used, ensuring that the company gets some return on its investment, solutions will often integrate with other common software packages or via API. This helps users build the new way of working into their existing routines, and keeps data in sync.

Juro offers integrations with:

  • Salesforce
  • Slack
  • Workday
  • Greenhouse
  • Google Drive
  • Gmail
  • Zapier
  • Companies House

... as well as REST API / webhooks to enable users to integrate contracts directly with their own platforms. Get in touch to find out more.

juro-integrationsIntegrate your contracts and their data with the systems your business colleagues use every day. Click above to try it.

What are the benefits of contract management software?

Companies often invest in contract management when they reach a sufficient size, or stage of growth, that means contract volumes are growing out of control. Juro's customers include scaling businesses of all sizes that want to stay in control of contract process - businesses like Trustpilot, Deliveroo, Cazoo and Babylon Health. Find out more.

Below are some of the key benefits of implementing contract management software.

  • Faster: Spinning up a document based on a template in a few clicks is faster than writing one from scratch. Similarly, spinning up 5,000 documents - let's say new employment terms after an acquisition, or leases for flats in a new apartment block - is much faster if it can be done at scale, digitally, rather than manually each time. Collaboration, negotiation and signature can all happen faster without the manual processes that physical contracting involves.

  • Collaborative: Your new employer sends you a contract. You want to accept but they have the wrong start date. You have to call them; they make the change in the Word doc, export it to PDF, print it, send it in the post, and a few days later it arrives. But they've misspelt your address. Around we go again. With contract management software, parties can make changes immediately to the live document.

  • Shareable: Once a document is ready, email a link to it to the relevant parties - whether that's a colleague who needs to review, or the counterparty who needs to sign.

  • Searchable: Storing and managing digital contracts means a level of searchability that saves huge amounts of time in comparison to manual processes. Finding concrete results digitally in milliseconds is obviously preferable to wading through filing cabinets looking for clues.

  • Secure: A sensitive contract used to only be as secure as the filing cabinet it was locked inside. Contract management software usually uses encryption and sophisticated cyber security to keep any and all contracts locked safely behind multi-layer passwords. The best solutions have extremely robust defences to keep data safe.

  • Backed up: Physical contracts are also vulnerable to loss or destruction, due to unforeseen events like fire and flood, which could leave parties unsure of their rights and obligations. Contract management software solutions store documents indefinitely, backing them up regularly, to nullify the risk of loss.

  • Scalable: If your need for 10 sales agreements a month suddenly becomes a need for 500, the last thing you need is a bottleneck in legal. Users rely on contract management software because they can quickly increase the volume of contracts they create, without needing extra headcount or budget.

  • Limitless: A company might have tens of thousands of contracts it needs to retain, a number that only grows as time goes on. Contract management software means this storage issue is one cloud storage, not warehouse acquisition. Finding contracts is also much easier without having to unearth a physical copy from a basement.

  • Enabling: legal teams typically explore contract management and automation in order to win back time that they currently waste on low-value tasks. Once that time is won back through self-serve automation and better processes, legal teams are free to spend more time on the high-value tasks they trained for - enabling the business and driving growth.

Who uses contract management software?

Legal, sales, human resources, procurement and finance teams are the main users of contract management solutions, although each business will have its own particular needs.

Legal teams

Legal typically 'own' contract process at a company. In-house legal teams use contract management software to manage their templates and generate documents on a daily basis, enabling their colleagues around the business to do the same.

HR teams

The human resources departments of large companies usually produce a high volume of contracts, as they hire new employees on an ongoing basis. As non-lawyers, HR often rely on a contract management tool to generate lawyer-approved contracts for new hires. Some solutions have integrations with the tools that HR use every day, like Greenhouse and Workday.

Sales teams

Sales hate anything that gets in the way of closing deals, so they'll often use a contract management solution to generate contracts quickly, rather than need to ask legal to create contracts for them. Sales users will typically look for solutions that integrate with the software they work in every day, like Salesforce.

Procurement teams

Any large organisation likely has a dedicated team that focuses on procuring goods and services from vendors. This obviously involves processing of supplier terms, and - once documents are signed - keeping tracking of their renewal dates. Procurement teams also often have as a requirement of their contract management software the ability to seek approval from other stakeholders elsewhere in the business.

Finance teams

Finance teams typically need visibility into contracts, for various reasons. They need to reconcile contracts and billing, as well as generate accurate revenue expectations for their business. Contract management software facilitates this kind of transparency.

Implementing contract management software

It's a sad fact that a huge number of legal technology implementations fail. 

When they fail, they fail for two key reasons:

  1. The buyer/decision-maker failed to secure buy-in for the project from other stakeholders in the business. You can read more about making sure adoption is a success here, and read on to get our free business case template to guide you through the process.
  2. The software was too difficult to use. Legal software generally is plagued by clunky user experience and poor design, so it's really important to select a platform that's easy to use.

While some vendors advertise 'six-month implementation', as if that's something to be proud of, Juro aims to get users to value within days, not months. Our average time-to-value is 21 days. Read more in the independent reviews below, or if you'd like to understand how Juro works with customers to deliver adoption quickly, get in touch to find out more.

Do I need a contract management system?

Legal and business teams typically implement contract management software when contract volumes increase to a point where managing them in Word and shared drives is impractical. If you are signing more than 10 contracts a month, you have likely felt the pain of a manual workflow and would benefit from implementing contract software.

Implementation can also help to scale contracts with the team you have, and avoid needing to hire a contract specialist.

If you are considering making a business case to your stakeholders to invest in better legal processes, use this free business case template to make your case.

Contract management software pricing

Juro offers flexible plans to suit any business - pick the plan that's right for you.

 
Lite Team Business
$59/user/month $90/user/month Let's talk.
βœ… Template editor βœ… Everything in 'Lite' βœ… Everything in 'Team'
βœ… Unlimited templates βœ… Unlimited contracts βœ… Single sign-on
βœ… Internal commenting βœ… Approval workflows βœ… SAML
βœ… In-browser negotiation βœ… Custom table views βœ… Bulk import
βœ… Native eSignature βœ… OCR + data extraction βœ… Bulk actions
βœ… Audit trails βœ… Analytics βœ… Salesforce integration
βœ… Kanban dashboard βœ… CSV export βœ… Greenhouse integration
βœ… Renewal reminders βœ… Dedicated customer success manager βœ… Workday integration
βœ… Slack integration βœ… User access levels βœ… REST API
βœ… GDrive integration βœ… Zapier integration βœ… Webhooks
βœ… Company data integration    

 

Ready to replace several tools with an all-in-one home for your contracts? πŸ‘‡

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Independent contract management software reviews

Juro is top-rated contract management software on Capterra (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.8/5) and G2 (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.7/5), leading the category for Ease of Setup and Quality of Support.

Our users say:

"Thanks to Juro, teams within our business can send out clear, well-drafted, beautifully designed commercial agreements that can be signed quickly. Crucially, all of this can be achieved with minimal input from our legal team"

"We've created a workflow that is scalable, quicker, automated and allows other teams to self-serve their contracts. For a small legal team this is essential and has saved us so much time"

"Easy to learn, intuitive user interface, anyone can use it without training. The Q&A function is amazing and let me as a legal person focus on contracts which actually require my expertise in drafting and negotiating. The future is here!"

"If you're looking for a simple to use, but powerful piece of contract management software that will have a tangible business impact, Juro is worth evaluating"

Read more about users’ experience with Juro on G2 and Juro on Capterra.

Contract management case studies

The most common use cases for getting started with contract management and automation concern routine contracts that aren't heavily negotiated - templates like the non-disclosure agreement, master services agreement and employment offer letter.

Here are some representative contract management case studies:

🌴 Secret Escapes: a unified workspace for contracts

πŸ‘” Eton Shirts: managing the unmanageable

πŸ›‘οΈ Shieldpay: how legal empowered the commercial team to close deals faster 

πŸ’² Luno: simple, faster, unified - contract management that scales 

πŸ’‘ RVU: business-wide contract collaboration 

πŸ‘œ  Appear Here: empowering commercial teams 

πŸ’¬ Unbabel: how to close sales contracts 30% faster 

πŸ” Wolt: how a scaleable solution took half the time and pain out of contracts 

🚜 Farmdrop: how to make legal tech work for farmers 

⚑ Deliveroo: how to scale documents at lightning speed 

πŸ’³ Curve: reinventing the candidate experience 

If you'd like to find out more about how Juro's all-in-one contract automation platform can work for your business, get in touch.

Contract management terminology

Contract lifecycle: the entire period for which a contract is relevant. For example, if a subscription agreement runs for 2 years, then when this date arrives and the contract is no longer in force, it has reached the end of its lifecycle. Some contract management systems use alerts and updates to help users manage obligations and renewals.

Contract management app: for the most part, contract platforms don't offer mobile apps. This is mainly because legal documents historically don't lend themselves well to small screens as they include lots of information. Juro focuses instead on making sure its browser-based contract automation platform is responsive and enables collaboration on any device.

Contract management workflow: this is the process by which a legal document moves through each stage, from creation through collaboration, negotiation, agreement and beyond, with input from relevant stakeholders at the right time. Find out more about contract workflow.

eSignature: the ability to sign a contract digitally, on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Integration: a feature of contract management software whereby other common software packages work in conjunction with the contract platform. For example, a Salesforce user can use an integration to create a contract directly in Salesforce, without having to move to another system.

Negotiation: the different parties to a contract making changes to the document in real time. If contract management software isn’t used, parties might do this orally and then make written changes to the document.

Obligation management: once a contract is signed, the obligations it contains are in effect, each with deadlines arising at any point throughout the contract's lifecycle. The management of these obligations is a key task for the contract's stakeholders.

Redlines: proofreaders used to mark up hard-copy documents with red pencils; this convention made it to word processing, where red lines typically highlight copy that's been changing during the editing process. In contract management software, redlining is the process through which changes are made to the document, in a way that's visible to subsequent users.

Template: users of contract management software often create templates for the most common documents on their standard terms. For example, if an organisation employs all new starters on the same terms, with only changes to salary, name, start date and so on, they can use a template to create the basic document very quickly, rather than building from scratch each time.

Versioning: the ability to look at previous versions of a contract before it was agreed.

Repository: a contract repository or contract database is the term for the post-signature storage area that houses all contracts across the business. It should be structured and searchable.

Where can I find out more about contract management?

Various global bodies, publishers, vendors and consultants can help you to learn more about contract management. Explore any of the below resources for more information. If you're ready to get started with contract management software, hit the big green button below.

Get a demo

The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM)| Artificial Lawyer | International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) | Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) | Capterra | Radiant Law | Juro's contract automation explainer page | Juro's specialist contracts blog

Topics: Contract magic

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