Have you ever had this happen? You want to create a contract with another company, but can’t find your copy of the contract template. You end up having to draft it from scratch, which takes hours and leaves room for error. Sound familiar?
Managing your crucial documents with a contract repository system will save you time, keep your documents secure, and speed up contract negotiations.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this post:
- What is a contract repository system?
- Why should you use one?
- How to manage your contacts using Excel vs. contract repository software?
- How to create a contract repository?
What is a contract repository system?
A repository is, really, a place where you put things. Per Merriam Webster:
“A place, room, or container where something is deposited or stored”
So a contract repository, then, is a place where contracts are stored and the “system” is the thing we use to understand what’s going on within that repository.
A couple of decades ago, a contract repository system lived in a filing cabinet, with little in the way of management or oversight. Not only is the paper-based office wasteful – an estimated 45% of office paper gets trashed at the end of the work day – but it’s woefully unreliable, with large organizations, on average, losing a paper document every 12 seconds.
As more offices embraced the paperless concept, instead of filing cabinets, we had folders on a hard drive. Then shared storage and cloud storage, like Google Drive and Microsoft Sharepoint. Already, these are leaps and bounds ahead. Searchable, some version control options, collaboration tools.
With legal documents though, these need more rigorous oversight than your typical sales or marketing email template. This is where, at a basic level, spreadsheets have served as a kind of contract repository system. Statuses, version numbers, approvals – these can be tracked in a spreadsheet.
Now, as more businesses adopt contract lifecycle management (CLM), storing and controlling contracts is baked into these tools. No spreadsheets required.
Why should you use a contract repository system?
The whole point of a modern, efficient contract repository system is that it gives not just you, but everyone who needs it, a constantly up-to-date view of your contracts and other important documents.
At a glance, the benefits of using contract repository software are:
- Efficient workflows and negotiations — templates are easily accessible and always up-to-date.
- No more missed deadlines — your system can remind you to contact a client or colleague.
- Control over access and security — centrally control who has access to what contracts.
How to manage your contracts’ data using Excel vs. CLM Software
Excel (or Sheet)-based Contract Repository
Documents can, ostensibly, live anywhere. Version control is managed in an Excel spreadsheet.
Good for: keeping costs down, ease of use.
Bad for: security, scalability, effective collaboration.
When is a database not actually a database? When it’s an excel spreadsheet.
As an entry-level contract repository system Excel, on the surface at least, offers a quick and cost effective way of getting a bird’s-eye-view of your contracts. You can add fields to help you track a document’s status, approval state, the type of contract — virtually anything you want.
If you use Google Sheets, you have the added benefit of your contract repository system being cloud-based. This makes it easier to collaborate and avoid duplication of records, but it still doesn’t represent a “single source of truth”.
The Excel (or Sheet) is, after all, a document itself. This too can be duplicated and needs to be managed and controlled. What’s more a spreadsheet is not a database and offers little to no functionality for actually managing your contracts’ data. No automated reminders, eSignatures, or anything else useful for getting your contracts approved.
Contract Lifecycle Management Software with Contract Repository
Contracts are created, tracked, stored, and managed from a centralized, collaborative platform.
Good for: security, collaboration, contract management, reporting.
Bad for: technophobes, nostalgists.
If your business is working with a lot of contracts, or any other business-critical documents – be they sales agreements, insertion orders, employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements – the only way you’ll truly have a complete picture of your contracts, across all parts of your business, is with an end-to-end contract lifecycle management platform.
Using a contract lifecycle platform as your document repository keeps your documents safe. There’s no risk of having people using the wrong contract templates, because documents are centralized and up-to-date. Gathering approvals and signatures takes far less effort, because you can hit a button and have a predefined workflow takes care of the notifications, follow-ups, and all this activity gets synced back to your contract repository platform.
Much in the same way a CRM (like Hubspot or Salesforce) is the single source of truth for your customer lifecycle. Following them from the first contact, right through to after-sales care. Contract lifecycle management systems assist provide the same function for the agreements you have with those customers (and vendors, too).
How to create a Central Contract Repository with Avokaado CLM
Now as you’ve got an overview of possible tools to organize and store your documents you can decide on how advanced of a contract repository you’d like to build.
Below, we’re giving a step-by-step instruction that SMBs usually follow when building a central contract repository system within Avokaado CLM platform:
Create a contracts repository
A central contract repository should serve you and your team as a single source of truth. For that, you’d want to make sure all ever created documents are collected in one place and further changes and additions to the documents happen in the right place.
To bring all documents in a centralized Avokaado workspace you have several options:
Option 1: Gather and migrate your legacy contracts database into Avokaado: review and pick the latest documents in docx. format, upload them to the platform and a machine learning-based algorithm divides the document into blocks (aka clauses) for you. Now your documents and clauses can be easily reused, searched and handled in Avokaado within a few clicks.
Option 2: Create automated templates for new or missing contracts from scratch in Avokaado: use template automation tools to compose a questionnaire based on which a document can be drafted quickly by answering questions or choosing between available options.
Option 3: Use pre-made templates from the Avokaado Store: Purchase or get for free any template and tweak them according to your own business case. It’s always good to have such a baseline so you can kick-off drafting faster: you’d already have the structure for the template, all important clauses and tool tips included. You can customize such a template by adding your product specifications or jurisdictions.
Option 4: Order templates development from Avokaado’s legal engineers. Sometimes there’s absolutely no time to dive into contract automation, though you definitely understand the benefits of automated templates and would like to use ones. With that in mind, Avokaado’s legal engineers can take over your existing templates and turn them into automated ones. You’d just need to collect the documents you’d like to automate and pass it to the team.
2. Organize contracts in your contract repository
Once documents are uploaded or created within the Avokaado CLM platform you can check them out in your Document view section. The Documents tab displays a list of all your documents. Here you can not only get an overview of all documents that have ever been created or sent to you but also see documents’ statuses: Drafts, Approval, Signing and Done stages.
You can also store and sort out your documents in various folders and their subfolders. These folders can be either accessible to you, anyone on your team or externally to your customers. To manage this level of access rights you might find user roles and user groups extremely useful.
Users can be added and managed by the account manager in the Users menu. There are four user roles in Avokaado:
- Account manager is a user who manages account settings, creates and manages users connected to the account. Account manager has all additional rights that the content manager and the team members have.
- Content manager is a user who has rights to manage and create templates and has all the additional rights that a team member has.
- Team member is a user who can draft documents and collaborate with internal and external (upload, share, negotiate, approve and sign) and add collaborators.
- Collaborator is a registered user of the platform who has the right to take all actions permitted by the content manager and/or a team member (e.g edit or view documents, approve and sign). Additionally, collaborators can draft documents if any of your company templates have been shared to them. Collaborators can be invited by sharing a document to them – they get access to the specific document.
3. Track contracts’ progress within your contract repository system
As has been said, what modern CLM platforms can offer in contrast with old-school spreadsheets is the trackability of your contracts. To make sure you see the latest changes and how far a certain document has gone in the pipeline you can use Avokaado dynamic dashboard for contract workflows tracking.
Your personal workspace has everything you need to create or manage documents. You can generate new documents, overview and track their statuses. Not depending on whether received or sent, everything related to your documents is displayed in one place.
The workspace shows your deal statistics, displays your critical deadlines and reminders. You’ll receive notifications when you have been added as a collaborator or your own collaborators have taken actions with your documents.
All your reminders and other account-related notifications will be shown here. Reminders are a perfect way to track your important deadlines or help you to delegate different assignments to any of your document collaborators. Reminders will appear also on every collaborator’s personal workspace for a better overview. You can add a personal reminder to yourself or share a reminder with your collaborators – the reminder will notify everyone assigned to it and according to what you have set as a deadline.
In short, creating a central contract repository system is important for any business.
What is more important is to make sure such a contract repository system brings value to your business by gathering compliant and easy-to-tweak contract templates in one place, giving you control over your documents and current deals’ flow.
To make contract repository management really valuable and dynamic spreadsheet-based solutions might be not enough. Instead, contract repository software as a part of a contract lifecycle management system could add extra value.
If you are no longer ready to wait and manage your documents in your Excel file it’s the right time to give the modern Avokaado CLM tool a try. Upload external documents to the Avokaado workspace, sort them out into folders, assign user roles and create groups, add reminders and start working with your documents in a modern flexible environment.
No more missed deadlines. Only control over access, efficient document management and security.