Contracts, and the way that they are written and managed, can determine the success or failure of a business.
Contracts affect every stage of business, from acquisition to advertising through to revenue. Bad contract management can cost a business 9% of their yearly revenue, which can ultimately mean you’re working an extra half a day a week just to make up for this lost money.
While revenue might be the most visible area of your business to be affected, it is estimated that 60%-80% of all business transactions are governed by contracts in some way. If you leave your contracts up to subpar contract management software, you could be infecting your entire business with bad data and badly managed contracts and not know about it until it’s too late.
Here’s the thing, though: it’s an avoidable solution.
With many great (and sometimes free!) contract management software options out there, it’s an avoidable travesty.
So, what is contract management?
If you think of your small or medium sized business as a house, contract management is like plumbing. Every small, medium, or large business needs it, and just like plumbing, a tiny problem can become a much bigger one if left unattended. This is why it’s best to have a solid contract management software option at the ready to get you through the jungle of legalese.
Contract management software can help minimize business risk, and provide a tailored experience to the customers in the most cost-effective way.
👉 Read more about how a fintech company accelerated the process of getting a document from a precedent to a client, minimized contract drafting risks, and saved their team’s time on legal hassle.
Drafting a contract used to take hours, and usually meant keeping a lawyer on call. Not anymore. Contract management software takes the processes of drafting, negotiation, and filing contacts easier than ever before.
Even the act of signing a contract can be a breeze, as nearly every single contract management software allows for remote signing with e-signatures. Some platforms even have built-in reminders if the contract is time sensitive. Today’s contract management software options mean you can move faster and safer than ever before.
Best free contract management software should include:
- Pre-approved contract templates: Save hours of legal work.
- Customization and branding: Make your contracts shine just the way you want them, and make negotiations a breeze.
- Clause library: Need to add something specific in? Add watertight clauses into your contracts just as easily as a simple drop-and-drag.
- Code-free document automation: Don’t bother developers and engineers and build reusable templates yourself
- Collaborative environment: Don’t play email ping pong and keep all the communications and version in a shared environment, collect approvals and signatures without ever leaving the software
- Document management: Upload existing documents and keep them all together, add newly created templates, sort them out and enable metadata search so all contract are easily findable
- Open API: Plug your contracts right into where they’re needed. From Slack and Salesforce to Google Docs and beyond, the options are practically limitless.
So, there are many free contract management software options available, but which is best for you? Let’s take a look at the top 11 choices out there:
Avokaado covers the entire contract lifecycle process — from smart drafting through to final approval and e-signature. It lets you create contracts easily and collaborate on one central platform.
Avokaado’s packages are made in a way to support businesses at their different stages of growth and challenges of contracting processes: either it’s a bottleneck with signing or never-ending mistakes in the contract drafts.
- An intuitive, easy-to-use, no-code contract automation functionality lets you create scenario-based templates and enable conditional logic so you’ll have a unified master template for re-usage
- Pre-lawyered templates and an additional clause library help you create complex documents quickly
- A suite of advanced collaboration tools enables document sharing, collaborative drafting, in-document discussion, reminders and dynamic approval processes
- API-integrations to seamlessly integrate with existing tech stack: a data register, CRM, or your own software
- Data-driven document management with meta-data and full-text search
Free trial option: There’s a free 7-day trial of each tier, and the freemium option allows for 100+ free pre-lawyered templates, unlimited downloading of PDFs, and secure electronic archiving.
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Pros: With Avokaado, users can make contracts 83% faster and draft up to 5 contracts simultaneously. It also cuts down on increasingly expensive printing and filing costs, as well as the cost of hiring someone full-time to do what a CMS can do for a fraction of the cost.
Cons: No redlining yet, but there’s a possibility to open an in-document discussion and negotiate terms in the comments — just as you’d do suggestions in Google Docs.
PandaDoc is a cloud-based document management system and one of the biggest names in contract management software, and with good reason. Founded in 2011, they’ve been a popular choice for business owners thanks to their easy-to-use interface, well-read blog, and responsive support team. It also helps that they have both an iPhone and an iPad app, as well as a browser-based version of their platform. Frequently used by marketing teams and HR departments, PandaDoc is a popular choice for all kinds of users.
- It can integrate itself with Salesforce, Hubspot, Zoho, Stripe, and other platforms.
- Templates available
- Data visualization
- Real-time notifications for contract milestones
- Unique proposal creation system
Free trial option: 14-day free trial of each plan, with a ‘Free eSign’ option if you’re just after legally binding electronic signatures. Plans range from $9 to $49 per user.
Pros: It’s easy to use, and relatively cheap if you use one of the handful of freemium templates. The $9 ‘individual’ plan is a good entry point to contract management systems, and the built-in data visualization is very informative.
Cons: Some reviewers believe that PandaDoc skews towards larger companies, so small to medium sized businesses might be a little lost unless they know exactly what they’re doing. The individual plan does not offer templates, and if you start on the ‘individual’ plan and later decide you need more options (like, say, you need to customize your contracts), get ready to pony up $49 a month. Additionally, PandaDoc does not allow multiple users of the same software, meaning only one person can have an account.
Contractworks is a solution that streamlines contract management across all industries. Unlike some of the other options on this list which cater towards smaller teams, ContractWorks is a great option for bigger businesses and/or those looking to send out high volumes of contracts. For a certain kind of client, like car dealerships and non-profit organizations who deal with a lot of vendors, this could be a dream. However, small to medium sized business owners might be turned off by the pricing structure.
- Drag-and-drop functionality and a superior UX experience means it’s a pretty easy program to use
- Built-in client reminders for milestone events
- Multiple users at no charge
- 24/7 customer support
- Ideal for businesses with a high number of outgoing contracts
Free trial option: A free trial is available, although the length of the trial isn’t published.
Pros: Multiple users for no additional charge, and easy set-up, customization, and installation. They also have a robust support team available 24/7. Company branding is available in all plans as a free service, which is something many of the other options on our list don’t offer.
Cons: They’re amongst the most expensive options. Their Standard Plan costs $600 a year and is billed annually (not monthly), meaning you’re locked into a contract for a year. There’s also a limit in the amount of contracts you can send, unless you’re willing to spend more. Because of this, their product tends to cater towards enterprise clients and not small to medium sized businesses.
Contractbook is a newer company that hopes to “replace all your tools with a single end-to-end platform” with a heavy focus on contract automation. Contractbook could also be an attractive option for more forward-thinking small to medium sized businesses that want to manage the entire lifecycle of their contracts in a single, fully automated flow.
- Free templates
- PDF-free workflow
- Multi-party signing
- Multiple users can work on same account
- Easy AI-enabled contract generation
Free trial option: There is a free option for individual users which includes pre-made templates and unlimited signatures.
Pros: With Contractbook you can execute your contract right on the platform and choose between national IDs, two-factor verification or single-click signature.
Cons: Their mobile-first workflow might not be for everybody (you need SMS verification for some contracts), and their admittedly brave stance about leading a “revolt against PDFs” might turn off older clients who’ve become reliant on the old but still industry standard PDF format.
Concord is a cloud-based contract management software product for the modern workplace. Instead of focusing on specific user needs, it’s a more one-size-fits-all approach which means (to you) that it’s incredibly easy to use. Billing itself as “the only tool you’ll ever need for all your contracts”, Concord promises to be your one-stop-shop for all things contract related.
- Deadline notifications
- Proposal tracking
- Customizable templates
- Cloud storage available
- LDAP integration
Free trial option: There is both a 2 week free trial (of the ‘Pro’ option), and a “free version” available which offers some (but not all) of the accoutrements of the ‘Standard’ version.
Pros: What Concord lacks in flashy style and hyper-granular customization, it makes up for in utilitarianism. It’s affordable, does the job, and comes with no fancy extras. For some SMB owners, this really may be all they need.
Cons: There is a big push towards their ‘Pro’ option, which is somewhat basic when compared to entry-level offerings from other contract management software companies. Be careful about what each plan offers. Custom branding and certain clauses are pushed all the way into the ‘Enterprise’ program, which means modifying your contracts on Concord has the potential to get expensive. Because of this, most SMB owners may have better options elsewhere.
Agiloft is an established major player in contract management software circles. Founded in 1991, they’ve become one of the most highly rated contract management tools on the market, Agiloft is focused on mid-to-large sized ventures, so buyers may want to consider other options if they are running a solo venture or small-sized (under 20-person) company.
- Electronic signatures
- Workflow approval
- Data visualization
- Automated contract authoring
- No-code setup means easy integration
Free trial option: There is a free trial option for 30 days, and a free option offers a bare-bones version of their services.
Pros: Agiloft is a good selection if you’re dealing with a lot of contracts and don’t mind skimping on customization options unless you’re willing to pay more. If money isn’t a worry and you have a big enough business, this could be for you.
Cons: Agiloft offers customizable plans to fit any need—but there’s a catch: you’re going to need a lot of money to come close to the full packages offered by some of their competitors. The pricing structure can get very confusing, very quickly—at $65 per feature, per month, you could be looking at a hefty monthly fee if you have any specialized needs or want to tailor contracts.
Legito offers advanced document drafting automation including workflows, approvals, secure sharing and eSignatures. Recently, Legito has made a push to allow for different industry use cases, like NPO’s and real estate.
- Legito has a pretty neat negotiation feature that makes (you guessed it) contract negotiations easier and less cluttered
- Targeting product towards law firms and corporations
- Handy features for non-profit organizations
- Template gallery
- Redlining available
Free trial option: 30 day free trial
Pros: Even with the new use cases, Legito caters towards a specific type of user (law firms and corporations, as we’ve mentioned). It’s also been hailed for its usability in some reviews, but it’s worth noting that the source of some of these reviews isn’t transparent.
Cons: Legito is quite expensive at $1,200 for a single user per year. External sharing of documents, a common practice in contract management, will cost an additional $2,000 a year for just 100 exports. Affordable if you’re a law firm, not so much for everyone else.
Precisely lets you optimize your contract management lifecycle, all the way from the initial request to contract renewal. Contract management is such a big area that Precisely, which attempts to be a one-size-fits-all solution for all kinds of use cases, can at times feel overwhelming—but it’s a valiant attempt nonetheless.
- The contract comparison feature
- Smart notifications to help you stay on top of all contract lifecycle events
- Workflow automation
Free trial option: There is a 2-week free trial.
Pros: There’s a great incoming-compare feature, as well as the ability to set up workflows for automation. The price, at $69 a month (or $62 a month if you bill annually) for individual users, is fair, too. The contract comparison feature, too, allows you to connect and/or compare incoming contracts with ones already in your system. This is a spectacular idea that’ll probably save hours of time, not to mention your eyesight.
Cons: Does the one-size-fits-all thing work? Well, that’s up to you and your capacity to spend time learning the platform. It’s equivalent to Photoshop; a very powerful tool in the hands of the capable. Additionally, it costs more to connect Precisely with apps like Salesforce, and custom branding is only available on the ‘Enterprise’ plan.
Juro is an end-to-end contract management platform that lets users streamline routine contract workflows in one single location. Its UX truly helps the contract creation experience on Juro: it’s easy, breezy, and low-stress. Good option for legal, sales, HR and operations teams at high-growth tech businesses and marketplaces.
- It’s browser based, and integrates with Slack
- Template gallery
- A full audit trail of all collaboration activities include commenting, redlining and eSignature
- One dashboard with all documents and your entire contract pipeline, including powerful search capabilities
Free trial option: No free trial, but there is a free option.
Pros: The free option is surprisingly robust and could work well for freelancers, and the Lite option ($59/month, billed annually) could give many of the more expensive options on this list a run for their money.
Cons: This ‘con’ might be a ‘pro’ for some—Juro aims to be entirely browser-based and to do away with sending files back and forth. This is a good idea to aim towards, but might disrupt those with more traditional workflows. Expect a little bit of a learning curve to adapt.
ContractSafe is a cloud-based contract management software that is a solid choice for companies, those with many outgoing contracts. The main draw here is its (many) security features that aren’t often touted for cloud-based software. After reading up on just how secure ContractSafe aims to keep your documents, this is a great choice for those who want to keep documents safe and secure.
- Seed Search with automatic OCR
- Integrates with Zapier (which connects to over 2000+ applications).
- Cloud storage
- Data visualization
- End-user clients (i.e. those signing the documents) will feel more safe about their information.
Free trial option: There is a free trial option, but it is not published on the website how long the trial lasts for.
Pros: If safety and security are your main concern over price and usability, ContractSafe may be your pick. While their website is hard to navigate, they do appear to update the core software on a regular basis.
Cons: ContractSafe does seem to aim itself at the corporate crowd (think 500+ active contracts). This is reflected in their asking price: it’s simply too expensive an option for small and medium sized businesses, at $359 a month if paid monthly.
Oneflow is another cloud-based contract lifecycle management company with an aim to get rid of PDFs once and for all. Oneflow is very easy to use and it’s easy to see why it’s a popular choice for small businesses, NPOs, and PR firms. However, it’s not inaccurate to say that Oneflow might not be suited for everyone due to its focus on levity: some really like to get granular with their contracts and go through things word for word.
- Great flow in product design means easy, breezy, legally sound contract creation
- Data visualization
- Adaptable plans
- PDF or HTML contract options
Free trial option: There is a free version, and a free 14 day trial of each of their options.
Pros: The data graphs are very useful, as data about how your contracts are being used and sent can be (almost) as important as what’s in them. Prices are also pretty flexible, so there’s an option here for just about everyone. The free version is great for those who don’t mind still using PDF contracts, the ‘Essentials’ package has HTML contracts, and the ‘Business’ option goes as far as to let you see your data.
Cons: The relatively sunny-looking interface and overall feel of the product might not be a good option for more serious clients. There also doesn’t appear to be a way to see the data fields unless you pony up for the ‘Business’ option, and it would have been nice to have seen it throughout the entire tier.
Small and medium sized businesses have their own unique challenges to overcome.
Contracts might not be the first thing on a business owner’s mind when they first start out, but choosing the right contract management software can be like choosing the right oil for a powerful engine. As you can see, there’s quite a few free contract management software options to choose from. Each of these options listed is a little different, so it’s worth taking a look at all your options before committing to one.
What makes Avokaado contract lifecycle management software stand out from the crowd is its 24/7 access to over 100 contract templates and a separate clause library to draw from, not to mention its usability and adaptability to different business workflows.
Special small-to-medium sized pricing is available and includes enterprise level features, so get in touch today for a free 7-day Avokaado trial with no credit-card required!