Thinking about purchasing a contract management tool for the first time? Or are you transitioning from an existing app to a new one?
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you’re likely feeling a little uncertain. There are dozens of solutions to pick from. And while most apps share similarities, there are also important differences in regard to feature sets, pricing, and customer support.
Contract management software can transform your business, leading to greater efficiency, conversions, and long-term sales. But it’s crucial to pick the right provider. Opting for the wrong app can cause a myriad of problems and cost significant amounts of money over the long term.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about picking a contract lifecycle management (CLM) app. We’ll also include some of the web’s top brands for you to consider.
What Is a Contract Management Platform (or Contract Lifecycle Management Software)?
A contract management platform, also known as a contract lifecycle management (CLM) app, is a software application used by individuals and companies to manage all aspects of their document workflows. CLMs typically include features for creating, sending, and tracking documents like proposals, contracts, invoices, and so on.
CLMs are particularly powerful pieces of software because they allow for the automation of an array of time and resource-intensive tasks. Functionality encompasses the streamlining of document creation, integrations with other apps for the automated transfer of data, advanced analytics, collaboration tools, electronic signatures, and pre-set notifications.
What’s more, CLM apps aren’t just for large enterprises. Many software companies cater to small and medium businesses (SMBs) and individuals like freelancers.
What Features Should You Look for in Contract Management Software?
Picking contract management software is time-consuming – there are lots of options to pick from. It’s a good idea to think about the features your particular document workflow requires prior to starting your search. This approach will enable you to filter different solutions quickly.
There are, however, some universal features you should ensure are included in your chosen app. Here’s a quick overview:
- Electronic signatures – E-signing constitutes a core part of a typical document workflow. It’s not uncommon for large enterprises to send hundreds if not thousands of documents for signing every month. Even small organizations and individuals will regularly need to send invoices, proposals, contracts, and more, for approval from clients and suppliers. Contract management apps with e-sign functionality allow recipients to quickly verify and sign documents in minutes, often without leaving their browsers. Look for a plan that doesn’t impose caps on the number of documents you can send for signing, such as well-known brand PandaDoc. If you opt for a solution that doesn’t include native e-signature features, you will most probably have to pay for additional software from another provider.
- Document editor and content library – Document editors fulfill two functions. If you already utilize a preferred suite of tools for drafting documents, such as Microsoft 365 or Adobe Document Cloud, then having access to an online editor enables you to make minor adjustments and changes after you have uploaded a document to your CLM software. The nature of minor changes can vary, from editing images to adding entry fields, so it’s still important that your editor has a wide set of features. If you don’t use an existing app to create documents, using an online editor can save both time and resources by providing quick access to pre-written templates, content assets like images and videos, drag-and-drop entry fields and signature lines, and more. Keep in mind that native CLM editors have been designed to streamline the production of certain types of business documents – proposals, invoices, contracts, etc. As a result, such editors can bring greater efficiency to your workflow.
- Integrations – One of the main benefits of CLM apps is that they enable you to sync your tech stack, the suite of software tools involved in a business’ day-to-day running. This allows for the seamless, automated transfer of data between platforms and saves substantial amounts of time. Everybody’s software suite is different, but it is good practice to look for integrations with your accounting, project management, and customer relationship management (CRM) apps. CLM providers sometimes charge extra for integrations, so this is something to be aware of. Popular provider signNow, for example, offers a solid library of integrations along with personal integration support, but these are only available on its premium enterprise-grade plan.