Seven New Year’s resolutions for contract management. Made to last. Promise.

Every new year starts off brimming with motivation and new resolutions to change a lot of things for the better. Granted, putting these resolutions into practice usually doesn’t last long. Have you been there, too? But clinging to old habits and failing to set goals won’t get anyone anywhere either. To get straight to the good news: When it comes to contract management, you can leave that comfort zone behind with confidence thanks to state-of-the-art software products that empower you to achieve your New Year’s resolutions quickly and with lasting effect – by making the switch from an analog to a digital approach.

Change old habits easily with digital contract management

In the middle of last century, Maxwell Maltz determined that it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit. Getting rid of them, however, takes an inordinately greater amount of time – if the effort succeeds at all. Why is that? Alongside patience, successful change is the result of a well defined motive, a conscious decision – and the right tools.

Especially in the area of contract management, old habits are the reason many companies have been using analog methods of administration for years, and leaving enormous potential for improvement untapped. Digital tools that replace these time-consuming and error-prone routines have long been available. My seven New Year’s resolutions – achievable immediately and lastingly thanks to modern, cloud-based standard products and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) – will show you why the time is ripe for making the switch. Not only that, they also drive greater efficiency in the contract lifecycle. Read on and discover how my resolutions will work for you, too.

1. I will negotiate contracts in secure data rooms instead of by e-mail.

E-mail is a fast and practical means of communication, but it’s not one hundred percent (revision) secure. That means that contracts can get lost, end up in spam or promotional folders, or have multiple versions in circulation. Situations like these waste a lot of time and money.

Modern software allows you to create secure, password-protected data rooms in the cloud, where you can centrally store all the documents needed for negotiations. Authorized persons within the company as well as relevant external partners can access the documentation and collaborate on it jointly – and even simultaneously. Automatic versioning makes every single change traceable, and the most up-to-date document is always displayed. The time travel feature lets you locate older versions rapidly and restore them as needed. This demonstrates that conducting contract negotiations by e-mail is no longer the state of the art.

2. Instead of using sticky notes, I will use the annotations feature to mark important clauses and places to sign.

Contracts printed on paper and covered with colorful sticky notes highlighting specific responsibilities can make the daily work routine a little more cheerful. But if they’re misallocated or lost, they can lead to chaos and a massive amount of work.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to highlight key passages and signature sections directly on the digitalized documents, to annotate them, and to forward them to the responsible parties automatically? The annotation feature in digital contract management serves exactly this purpose, with traceability provided at all times. Besides that, automated workflows will support you with smooth and structured execution. Forget about handwritten comments, Post-its, and passing paper documents around among all the involved parties.

3. From now on, I will also be reviewing contracts on the go, away from the office.

Working through a stack of files on the desk in the office every day or reviewing what seems like hundreds of e-mail attachments is a frequent part of the routine for teams in corporate legal departments. What if the time before or between off-site meetings and appointments could be leveraged to handle urgent business?

A cloud-based application means you can execute the process steps assigned to you while observing the highest security standards, regardless of when and where you are – you can even use mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This demonstrates that managing sensitive contract data outside the office is straightforward and secure.

4. I will only approve any one contract one single time.

Agreements vary – but they have a lot of similarities. Too many similarities to be able to tell them apart or identify changes if you take an analog approach to managing the contract portfolio.

Digital tools deliver impressive benefits like built-in review, approval, and release processes that initiate automatically. The automated versioning and time travel mentioned above also prove helpful for performing searches. Your worklist clearly outlines where action is needed, in addition to an e-mail reminder for every to-do. Any activity that involves dealing with an agreement multiple times can be confidently crossed off your schedule.

5. I will sign contracts digitally instead of arranging for signatures through the mail or flying around the world to get them.

The negotiations were successful and the contract is ready to be signed. More often than not, the people in charge are still sending documents peppered with colorful sticky notes by mail, or hopping on a plane to gather the signatures. That’s just not in line with the times.

Every modern contract management software has native advanced electronic signature capability in accordance with the EU’s eIDAS Regulation, which speeds up the process dramatically. The advantages are obvious: Once the signature process is initiated, executives simply navigate to the signature field without changing systems, and the agreement becomes legally valid within seconds. For some, letters in the mail and travel can be a welcome change, but in our fast-paced times, we need efficient ways to finalize agreements.

6. I will NOT send manual reminders about contract deadlines anymore.

In many cases, several people – often scattered across departments and locations – enter the relevant contract deadlines and dates manually in exhaustive lists, setting calendar entries and communicating them by e-mail or phone. But this approach is resource-intensive and, most importantly, error-prone.

Digital tools use artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and classify the most important data – such as contract type, contract parties, and deadlines – and present it to the user in clearly structured and customizable lists. A further key component is an integrated deadline management system with e-mail reminders and push notifications, likewise based on AI technology. This ensures that you maintain a clear overview of your contract portfolio and never miss a deadline again. Moving from analog to digital contract management minimizes manual tasks and alleviates concerns about the ramifications of overlooked deadlines.

7. I will NOT keep my contracts in file cabinets spread across multiple offices and locations anymore.

Location-specific file storage systems, team drives, and even paper files in cabinets in various departments make handling and keeping track of things extremely difficult. Years of employing this outdated approach have wasted massive amounts of time and exposed the company to considerable risks.

Cloud-based contract management gathers all documentation and information in a single location to ensure revision security – in other words, a single source of truth. A sophisticated role and authorization scheme, including proxy and successor rules, guarantees that only designated individuals have access to the data – 24/7 and from any location. Additional in-house and external participants can be incorporated quickly and easily, paving the way for efficient and secure collaboration. Eliminate disparate filing systems and messy, cumbersome communication channels and harness the power of the cloud.

Happy new year: Turn your resolutions into reality swiftly and sustainably with digital contract management

The era of analog contract management on paper, by phone, by e-mail, and using conventional spreadsheet programs and extra calendar entries is definitely over for good. The features of modern contract management software offer you plenty of good reasons to shed “old” habits and make a deliberate decision in favor of an intelligent standard product like Fabasoft Contracts. Immediate deployability and the use of AI technologies substantially reduce workload, error potential, and risk exposure while delivering competitive advantages. That way, you can achieve your goals for the long term – and your New Year’s resolutions will usher in a whole lot more than empty promises. Promise.