Posted on 4th January 2020

Thought Leadership

How Contract Management Spreadsheets and Contract Lifecycle Management Systems Differ

Businesses still typically use Excel spreadsheets to manage contracts with a database that captures key information around contracts management. Businesses looking for opportunities to improve processes, profitability, compliance and security should look at how contract management spreadsheets and contract lifecycle management systems differ to reach a new height and achieve organisational goals.

Simply put, "contract management spreadsheets" is a manual approach to managing contracts with email, multiple spreadsheets, and file storing. While "contract lifecycle management systems" is an automated and strategic process that combines people, workflows and technology to ensure the business get the most out of their contracts.

Contract Management Spreadsheets

Up to 40% of many companies data is managed in spreadsheets, and the combination of emails and a contract management excel template may help increase visibility into contracts and could be the first step towards taking control of contracts.

Spreadsheet contract management templates typically help captures information such as:

  • counterparty name and address
  • contract name
  • contract expiration date
  • next contract review date
  • contract amount
  • internal legal contact
  • department
  • notes
  • and more, dependent on the requirements of the business.

Formulas can be added and used to track how long it takes to reach milestones, and lists can be used to keep data consistent. Some level of security (that may not meet regulations and compliance) can be added to Excel by password-protecting the workbook.

However, spreadsheets may help some organizations gain more control over contracts, nonetheless, using a spreadsheet and emails to manage contracts brings its own set of challenges. The excessive use of spreadsheets can prompt a series of issues that hit your top and bottom line and prompt backwards growth.

To be effective, spreadsheets will need to be diligently monitored, reviewed, and manually updated to ensure data accuracy and database functionality. Even when these areas are managed closely, the reality is that spreadsheets are susceptible to human error, they don't support document search functionality or document version control, multiple spreadsheets may be used and saved in various files, and even when password-protected, spreadsheets may not meet security regulations.

Why do contract management spreadsheets fall short?

Spreadsheets are not built to provide the insights necessary to get the most out of contracts. Unfortunately, when you rely too heavily on spreadsheets to manage core business process you're storing up some problems. It's not just the lack of security and traceability that can occur when your key data lies in spreadsheets. Having a manual process makes it difficult to maintain accurate, consistent information and make decisions with confidence. In short, an over-reliance on spreadsheets can be a liability.

Managing contracts in Excel will not:

  • provide alerts around pricing or under-performance
  • reveal opportunities for increased profits via cross-selling or upsell
  • support electronic signatures and document version tracking
  • provide automated email reminders and calendar alerts
  • eliminate data entry errors
  • streamline the approval process
  • support secure anytime/anywhere access and collaboration

Managing contracts with a spreadsheet are preferred to no system at all. When the volume and complexity of contracts increases, it will be cumbersome, and at times impossible to get the most out of your contracts without contract analytics and performance metrics, an automated review, approval, and renewal process, and standardized clauses and terms.

Contract Lifecycle Management Systems

Not only does a system enable your business to manage all the key information around your contracts like a spreadsheet, but contract lifecycle management systems also enables businesses to move beyond basic contract management methods by focusing on requests, authoring, negotiations, approvals, signatures, obligations, compliance, and renewals.

Implementing contract management software is the fastest way to improve contract management. For businesses managing hundreds to thousands of contracts, or complex agreements, a comprehensive approach to contract management, that is supported with the latest technology is the path to more control, risk mitigation, and increasing the value attained with contracts.

What are the key benefits of a contract lifecycle management system?

Contract Lifecycle Management systems support faster contract execution by removing roadblocks that delay contract authoring, negotiations, approvals, and renewals. Other benefits include:

  • elimination of time-consuming, error-prone, repetitive tasks
  • secure document storage and collaboration with version tracking and redlining
  • reduced risk and increased compliance
  • increased transparency
  • ensuring all stakeholders have the right information at the right time
  • making audits easier
  • a reliable collaboration, negotiation, approval, e-signing, and renewal process
  • faster closes and more predictability
  • using workflow, alerts, and notifications to speed up the sales process
  • preventing unfavourable auto-renewals, missed deadlines, payment errors, or lost opportunities.

Innovative contract management systems enhance contract request, review, and approval productivity by providing real-time contract visibility resulting in improved ROI, decreased risks, and lower costs.

With smart functionality working in real-time, contract management systems improve the quality of your data with patterns and processes so nothing gets missed. Businesses should not be scared of the change and technology or having to say goodbye to your impressive network of spreadsheets; the best thing about databases is that you can easily import and export your worksheets.

Spreadsheet or Contract Lifecycle Management System?

The contract management method you choose should be based on a combination of your goals, your time, your budget, and the level of value, security, and compliance you need to get out of your contracts. However a contract management spreadsheet template will help improve contract management with more organized contract data and will offer more visibility into key dates, but the lower financial investment will not position you to get the most value out of your contracts.

If decreasing cycle time, reducing risk, and increasing profits, productivity, and efficiency are benefits that will provide the advantage needed to meet your goals, then it is time to consider an approach that moves beyond contract management to contract lifecycle management.

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