Things can go wrong with any job, in any industry. Human error, miscommunications and sometimes just bad luck can throw off the best laid plans.
For an organization that relies on contracts to define their business, when things go wrong, it can mean a prolonged contract process, extra costs, delayed revenue - or in the worst scenarios - a lost deal.
Depending on its size, an organization could have tens to thousands of contracts in motion - with many requiring edits and approvals before they can be signed. With so many edits being shared, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. Often, the wrong version of a contract can accidentally be introduced into the process. Whether the contract was wrong from the moment it was generated, or got mixed up during the redlining process, having the wrong version of a contract can dramatically delay a deal. Instead of selling, time is then spent tracing the contract back to see where things went wrong. Sometimes you don’t realize the contract is outdated until it’s too late.To help stay ahead of this contract challenge, here are three steps organizations can take immediately to get control of their contract versions:
1. Stop Emailing Contracts
This is the easiest and most-straightforward solution. During negotiations (or redlining), contracts are often emailed to the other party - where edits or comments are made - then it is sent back to the party for review and to make further redlines. However, each time a contract is attached to an email and sent, a new version of that contract is being introduced into the process. When you rely on emails to share contracts, amid all the rounds of reviews, it’s easy to lose track of the most updated version.
I’m not saying you can’t rely on email when you work on contracts. But emails are best used to notify someone when it’s their turn to review or redline the contract.
2. Work from the Cloud
Ok, so if you can’t share contract redlines through email, how can you negotiate a deal?
The cloud has become popular workspace for collaboration on documents. If you keep a contract there, where it is accessible to both parties, then 1) there’s no need to attach it to email and 2) you know there is only ONE actual contract in play during the entire contract process.
With many cloud platforms, you can make edits and comments on the contract that will be visible to both parties. Plus, cloud platforms typically notify all the stakeholders involved when an action has been taken on the contract.
3. Create Pre-Approved Templates
It’s not always the wrong contract being introduced mid-process, sometimes it’s the wrong contract from the moment it’s generated. To avoid this, organizations should create standard templates for their most common types of contracts.
These templates can come prefilled with approved legal language - not only shortening the time it takes to generate the contract, but also reducing reliance on legal, as well as legal costs. These templates, along with pre-approved clauses, can be updated and evolved over time.
Contract management software: The best option for version control
The three steps above are a great start towards minimizing contract version control issues. They are also key functions of contract management software - which more businesses are using for version control, contract generation, automated workflows and more.
Not only does a contract management solution allow teams to generate and collaborate on contracts from a cloud repository, they provide the following features to ensure you always have the right contract version:
- Every action taken on the contract is recorded into the audit trail history, so it’s easy to trace past activity during the contract cycle.
- Teams are notified when an action has been taken on the contract, including who took the action and when.
- Comments and edits can be made within the document to ensure redlines visible to everyone involved.
- Integrate with existing sales tools, like Salesforce and Microsoft Word, so teams can work with the tools they're familiar with.
SpringCM is a Salesforce Platinum Partner dedicated to helping customers address contract challenges, like version control, to accelerate the path to revenue. Through workflow automation and our integration with common sales systems, SpringCM has helped its customers shorten the contract process by 75 percent.
Is your organization having issues with version control? Or do you have a different contract issue? Just click the button below that matches the stage where you’re experiencing contract challenges.