In order to get started with improving contract lifecycle management, there first needs to be an understanding of what exactly the contract lifecycle is - as well as how it progresses. To that end, we have provided an illustration that shows the stages in the life of a contract - as well as descriptions that give more insight into how each stage involves and can be managed with contract management software!
What Exactly is the Contract Lifecycle?
The contract lifecycle can be understood as the step-by-step process with which a contract is drafted, negotiated, reviewed, signed, and executed. The contract “lifecycle” is a structure with which to compartmentalize and understand a contract’s complicated journey. The lifecycle begins with contract requests and ends when those requests are wholly fulfilled - with the potential for contract renewal. Below is an outline of each stage in the life of a contract. Let's navigate the contract lifecycle!
#1 - What Are Contract Requests?
Contract requests is the initial phase of the lifecycle that allows business stakeholders to gather necessary details essential for a new contract, agreement, amendment, renewal, etc. The request stage of the contract lifecycle arguably sets the tone for whether a contract undergoes efficient processing or is plagued by delays.If you are looking to streamline and simply contract requests, you should leverage a CLM solution that supports automated requests - including user-friendly intake forms and dynamic questionnaires that help requestors select what type of request they should submit. Be sure to also look for a solution with automated alerts, a user-friendly report designer for ad-hoc reports and custom reports, robust system and user-defined dashboards, and the ability to easily approve requests and create contracts seamlessly. CobbleStone Contract Insight® offers all of the abovementioned tools and more to maximize contract requests and get your contract lifecycle management process started off on the right foot!
#2 - What Is Contract Authoring?
Also known as the contract writing phase, this stage sees contract parties putting contract terms and conditions into written word by amalgamating standard contract clauses, contract key dates and milestones, counterparty information, and other important data.
If you seek a better contract authoring process with efficient and straightforward clause merging for your organization, you can leverage a CLM solution that affords you the ability to merge critical contract data with pre-approved templates from your organization's highly accessible library, painless flow-down functionality, and comprehensive version tracking. CobbleStone Software has you covered with the aforementioned tools and many more to take the headache and chaos out of contract authoring.
#3 - What Are Contract Negotiations?
During the contract negotiation stage, contract parties negotiate the specified parameters drafted during the contract authoring phase. After back-and-forth redlining and contract collaboration, agreed-upon conditions provide crucial insight regarding the expectations of a contract.
If you are looking to take the hassle out of contract negotiations, take advantage of a contract lifecycle management software platform that offers complete document collaboration and version control, full content control, and rules-based clause ownership for improved accountability and security. CobbleStone Contract Insight offers a seamless transition between all stages of the contract lifecycle - including contract writing and contract negotiations - so that your organization can focus on more strategic initiatives.
#4 - What Are Contract Approvals?
During contract approvals, all parties review the contract. Parameters are set in place for meeting compliance standards, performing contract obligations, meeting milestones, and adhering to the special terms of a contract. For healthy contract approvals, an accessible and up-to-date record of contract changes is a must. As such, a comprehensive audit trail recorded by leading-edge contract management software is essential for efficient contract lifecycle management.
If you are looking for a smooth approval process for your organization, you should invest in a CLM platform that supports contract workflow automation, comprehensive audit trails, and the ability to approve or reject contracts with automated email procedures. CobbleStone Software features all of those tools and more so that contract approval collaboration is a breeze.
#5 - What Are Contract Signatures?
During the signing stage in the life of a contract, chief employees or high-clearance authorities sign a contract - thus commencing its enactment. CLM software solutions that offer a future-minded and user-friendly electronic signature software functionality make it simple to sign contracts one-off or in bulk, in or out of the office, and in a web-based landscape where manual signatures are inefficient and time-consuming.
If you are looking to streamline your signing process, embrace a rapid and user-friendly signature solution, such as CobbleStone Software's proprietary IntelliSign® electronic signatures. With IntelliSign, your organization can cut send-to-sign time by as much as twenty percent with an easy-to-use document toolbox, a vast number of placeholder configuration settings, simply one-off signatures with a convenient document collaboration portal, and rules-based signing configuration options.
#6 - What Are Contract Obligations?
During the obligations stage, contract parties acknowledge their pre-defined responsibilities, deliverables, key dates, milestones, and payment windows.
If you are looking for a tight-knit and organized contract obligations process, be sure to select a contract lifecycle management solution that supports automated key date awareness, milestone tracking, and task alerts, obligation status reports, and engaging dashboards for enhanced contract analytics. CobbleStone Contract Insight offers these tools and more to help your organization virtually ensure obligations fulfillment.
#7 - What Is Contract Compliance?
During the contract compliance stage, parties agree that, in addition to those specified in a contract's terms and conditions, general and field-specific contract rules, regulations, standards, guidelines, and practices are adhered to and complied with. Proper and careful compliance management helps decrease late fees, litigation fees, and process bottlenecks while setting the stage for future contracts.
If you want to experience a contract compliance process that keeps your organization away from late fees, litigation fees, and unneeded delays, make sure to invest in a solution that supports full compliance management of various regulation types. CobbleStone Software, for instance, simplifies compliance with the US Treasury Department's OFAC screening lists, FASB ASC 606, SOC 1, SOC 2, and many other critical regulation and compliance types.
#8 - What Are Contract Renewals?
During the contract renewal stage of the life of a contract, contract parties are given the opportunity to revisit discounts, renegotiate contract terms, and engage in further chances at opportunity realization.
If you are looking to button up your contract lifecycle neatly and effectively with better contract renewals, you should invest in contract renewal automation with contract lifecycle management software. To this end, CobbleStone Contract Insight offers automated reminders and helpful calendar alerts for renewal opportunities, a secure and web-enabled contract repository for contracts up for incoming renewal, full audit trails of potential renewal status changes throughout the life of a contract, robust contract analytics tools to provide key insight into contract renewal benefits, rapid electronic signatures for contracts set for renewal, and more.
Transform Your Contract Lifecycle Process Today!
Now that you know the stages in the life of a contract, you are well aware that it is just plain irresponsible to navigate the contract lifecycle without the help of reliable CLM software solution. Luckily, CobbleStone Software has your back. CobbleStone Contract Insight is hailed as a visionary in contract lifecycle management solutions. Forrester names CobbleStone a Leader in CLM software - and it's easy to see why!
CobbleStone has pioneered contract lifecycle management since its inception in the mid-1990s. The software’s abundance of features empowers organizations to manage contracts more effectively, proactively manage risk, fully oversee compliance, draft documents for contracts quickly, easily track costs, receive automated alerts, sign documents swiftly with eSignatures, and reduce contract management costs stemming from lost productivity from outdated contract administration processes.
CobbleStone's contract lifecycle management software is relied upon by thousands of contract, risk, sales, legal, and other professionals worldwide. Book a free demo today to see what all the hype is about!