Contract management is a team sport, and lawyers have long been its star players. The digital transformation, however, has shaken up the rules. They remain in constant flux, and the game grows faster and more complex, as we face the growing need for more dynamic contracts.
The difference now is that clients benefit when lawyers share the ball. Only through increased collaboration can we better understand the multifaceted contracting needs of sales, procurement, HR, IT, and other professionals. With enhanced transparency and communications, we’re more prepared to respond to executives who shout from the stands, demanding instant answers on issues such as how quickly deals are closing.
Lawyers need help covering the modern playing field. Using Contract Management Software (CMS), you can empower others to find answers and make smarter decisions on their own. While lawyers remain key players (on par with point guards and quarterbacks), we can use CMS to enable others to not just participate, but also score big in the game.
1. Guide legal contract creation and negotiation.
Use a CMS platform to deliver your legal guidance through technology. Its features allow you to establish the rules of the game for an organization and provide smart plays for team members. As others use CMS to create, negotiate and manage contracts on their own, they receive direction from you through forms, templates, automated workflows, company playbooks, and other tools you create for them.
Ever wished you could be in more than one place at the same time? Lawyers who transfer their legal knowledge into a CMS platform wind up effectively collaborating with more people in more places without being there in person. They guide others step by step in a collaborative digital journey.
2. A digital referee that ensures others follow the rules and guidelines.
You can use CMS to create a company playbook and add optional fall-back positions to mitigate risk while ensuring department heads, managers, and other professionals always use acceptable language and contracts remain consistent across the organization.
A CMS platform is an “always-on” digital referee out in the field automatically flagging inconsistent or contradictory language and blowing the whistle on suboptimal clauses based on how you train the software to react.
Equally important is setting triggers for when contracts should be escalated for further review by a lawyer. Here, too, the collaborative features of CMS are an advantage. It keeps all communications and associated documents connected to contracts to better inform and expedite your review.
3. Support independent legal contract creation.
Setting up decision-based contract models (aka, conditional templates) is another way you can call out plays before the game starts. A decision-based contract model relies on “If this, then that” (IFTTT) logic to allow users to build situation-specific contracts. Lawyers decide what “this” and “that” are to erect guardrails that keep others from going out of bounds when working on their own.
During contract creation, users collaborate with you when they respond to questions or select relevant drop-down values from menus. The model then automatically assembles a contract using the appropriate pre-approved provisions. It produces a ready-to-sign contract that includes all the necessary details such as personalized signature blocks and appropriate jurisdiction-specific language and clauses.
4. Seize more opportunities with legal contract templates.
The need for contracts can arise quickly. Team members can grasp fast-moving opportunities only if they’re able to construct a useful, error-free contract any time from anywhere. Using templates is not new, but trying to maintain useful templates outside a CMS platform is like trying to clinch a basketball game in the game’s last 1.5 seconds with a half-court shot. Or a Hail Mary football pass. It takes massive effort from one or two people and rarely pays off.
Maintaining templates in CMS platforms gives others only one location to access standard contract terms. It’s also easier for you to make any needed changes to ensure templates respond to business and regulatory changes. Clause and template libraries expand your guidance across an entire organization. Use them to reduce the carry over of errors from outdated templates and ensure contracts include the most up-to-date provisions.
5. Speed more consistent collaboration with automated workflows.
Automating tasks increases speed and ensures consistency in your collaborations. Build automated workflows such as instant routing for review, approval, and signature to ensure every person who needs to touch the ball gets the opportunity to do so.
For example, you can set criteria to automatically identify and notify your teammates to review and approve a contract. You can also restrict final approval until all edits and issues are dealt with and every required approval is obtained. The system maintains informative dashboards that allow you and interested executives to monitor progress every step of the way.
Trust CMS to do exactly as told.
Lawyers must continually evaluate contracting performance to ensure guidance remains effective in changing circumstances. The key is you can trust CMS to follow your logic. It reduces the unreliability of human decisions and actions. Feel confident you are safely guiding others while encouraging them to participate in the game on their own. You’re still calling the shots. CMS just helps you line up the X’s and O’s and create more game-winning plays.
Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology.