It’s been a topsy-turvy year for small businesses, so now more than ever you need a repository to keep your contracts intact.
Imagine: You run a small distribution or manufacturing organization. The end of the year is fast approaching and you’re wrapping up your Q4 goals while simultaneously planning your initiatives for the new year. It’s stressful enough already when into the mix comes a frantic phone call from inventory. It turns out that a contract with a major supplier is due to expire at the end of January. You check your notes and discover that you haven’t even spoken to this company since the summer!
You panic. Losing that supplier would cost you hundreds of hours of productivity plus the need to retool. You hit the phones to try to reach your supplier. Your only plan is to retain the relationship – at any cost. You are desperate and it shows. You have no bargaining power because you left your renewal run too late, all because the looming expiry was lost in someone’s email or on a post-it.
Having a contract repository can prevent this and many other problems small businesses face with contracts.
What is a Contract Repository?
Many small businesses store contracts in an ad-hoc way. They’re in someone’s email, on a shared document drive, or worse, in a single laptop’s downloads folder. But in the past decade, leading companies have moved their files to contract repository tools that allow for effective storage and retrieval while also paving the way for game-changing technologies like workflow automation. What small businesses need is a powerful suite of tools to write, manage, redline, and store their contracts – tools that are designed for the job.
A contract repository organizes vital business information in a way that empowers your team to excel at contract management. Here’s how.
1. Safe and Searchable Contract Storage and Retrieval
One of the most compelling benefits of a contract repository is the ability to store and easily find contracts. It is circumstances like the one above that often set small business leaders on the path to looking for this kind of software. Since it’s built for the purpose, a repository can generally fetch a specific contract or set of contracts based on key terms, including:
- Contract type
- Date ranges
- Company name
- Product or service
- Responsible parties or departments
- Fulfillment particulars (Price-breaks & Discounting)
- Contract relationships
- The full cost of the contract
- Renewal timeline
Being able to search for those terms in and of itself presents a game-changer for the small business that was storing contract information in Excel or Google Drive. But that’s not all. According to Forrester, having an electronic repository supports compliance by increasing access to files, supplies contract data to purchasing, ordering, and invoicing systems, and supports the analysis of a company’s obligations, entitlements, and risks.
2: Enable Contract Workflow Improvements
Many platforms go further than simply storing and organizing contracts. Contract Lifecycle Management tools, such as Anapact, also support best-practice workflows that save time and reduce risk. The lifecycle in its moniker refers to a one-way cycle from the initial request through authoring the contract, negotiations, approvals, signatures, obligation recording, compliance reporting, and renewal. Contract experts say that order is important because it saves double-handling and reduces the risk of skipping a step.
Contract lifecycle management platforms walk your team through this process and create a single source of truth – not just what the contract is for but where exactly in the process it’s at. That saves double handling, especially by expensive legal departments, and can allow for commonly used clauses to be pre-approved by lawyers in the CLM and dropped into a contract without the need for additional approval.
3: Unlock Capabilities to Truly Understand Your Contracts
A common complaint from small business leaders is that contracts take too long to manage. That may be so but how much do you actually know about the performance of your contracts? Even if you had time to investigate, how would you even find out how long it took to negotiate your last supplier renewal? What about your last audit? The truth is that few business leaders have visibility to their actual contract ROI.
Once all your documents are in a single contract repository, you can benefit from all that data. Paint a true picture of your past, present and future contracts. Get on the front foot for compliance audits. Start the renewal process on big contracts early, and automatically. Alert key people when milestones are approaching, or met. And get an early warning if your fulfillment of an important contract is starting to go sideways.
Contracts govern just about everything we do as small business owners. To make the right decisions, you need full access to your contracts and the information they contain. Anapact is a contract lifecycle management platform that was built by small business owners for small business owners. Get a demo today.