Contract reviews involve reading agreements line-by-line ahead of approval and require dedicated time and resources. Businesses rely on their in-house counsels to address legalese and contract terminology, while Contract Managers extract valuable information such as key dates before sharing it with key stakeholders.
However, a high volume of incoming contracts combined with manual contract reviews leads to:
- Fragmentation as it’s difficult to track and locate all contracts requiring review
- Bottlenecks as legal teams try to balance reviews with existing workload
- Contract requests being incomplete and key data not being captured
- Agreements being signed with ambiguous terms that haven’t been reviewed fully
In this article, we will explore why your business should streamline its contract review processes and how contract management software can help you to do it.
How to improve the contract review process
Contract reviews are often complex processes and can be subject to delays for a variety of reasons. This could be due to an overworked Legal team, a lack of information or simply not knowing requests for a review has been submitted. These scenarios ultimately delay time-to-contract and are all reasons to streamline the process. Let’s break it down further.
1. Eliminate bottlenecks for in-house legal teams when it comes to contract review
Your in-house Legal team has a lot to focus on. A contract review is another task on top of managing compliance, handling any litigation issues and minimising risk. But it’s not a task that’s any less important. When high volumes of contracts come in for review, or colleagues make unexpected requests for contracts, bottlenecks can quickly develop.
Spending hours reviewing agreements line by line, or being interrupted by colleagues in other departments, ultimately slows down time-to-contract and overburdens Legal."
Streamlining through self-serve options, automation and pre-approved templates alleviates pressures on the team. Moving beyond manual processes and relying solely on the Legal team creates less administrative work, eliminates low-value tasks and encourages stakeholders to take a more active role in the contract review process.
2. Visualise and prioritise high-value, strategic work
While eliminating bottlenecks can help the process to become more seamless, it doesn’t stop Legal teams from having competing priorities.
Whether it’s contracts that are coming up for renewal and require a review, agreements going through another round of redlining, or brand new contract review requests being submitted, sometimes it can be hard to see the wood through the trees.
A lack of visibility may result in teams not knowing that a contract is ready to be reviewed, which version requires their attention or how many new contracts are being initiated."
Effectively streamlining contract reviews doesn’t just mean reducing workload. It means giving internal teams the ability to prioritise their work. By automating internal processes and presenting a dashboard of incoming and ongoing contract reviews, stakeholders has visibility of where they need to focus their time and when.
3. Delegate workload to stakeholders to increase collaboration
The initial contract review request from stakeholders can cause back and forth if the right information isn’t provided from the outset. If requests don’t include complete and compliant data, time and resource needs to be spent chasing and updating the request. This distracts the in-house counsel from high-value, strategic tasks that should be their main focus.
Mandating information from stakeholders shares accountability for a smooth contract review process across the entire organisation rather than resting on Legal's shoulders."
Contract management is an organisation-wide responsibility. When stakeholders and contract owners take more ownership of their contribution to contract reviews, the process naturally becomes slicker.
Collaboration across multiple departments can also be enhanced when automatic reminders are sent to stakeholders when a contract review is due. This stops them from interrupting the Legal team to ask about contract status.
Contract Reviews and CLM software
When faced with increasing workloads and growing portfolios, manual processes not only hinder contract reviews but can also increase the level of risk within the portfolio. This approach is proving unsustainable for businesses and they are seeking new options.
“By 2024, manual effort for contract review will be reduced by 50% due to adoption of AI-based contract analytics solutions.” - Gartner
Let’s take a look at how you can use contract management software to unlock the benefits listed above.
1. Use self-serve options to speed up contract reviews
How many hours does your Legal team spend reading contracts line by line? These teams often find themselves reading very similar terms - especially in high-volume, low-value agreements such as NDAs and MSAs. Contract management software can save the team valuable hours by automating several aspects of this process.
Gatekeeper allows businesses to reduce review throughput on the Legal team through the creation of an approved boilerplate clause library. With Touchless Contracts technology, they won’t need to approve each and every single NDA or MSA. This saves valuable time. Other stakeholders can create and execute complete and compliant agreements at scale.
Automate repetitive tasks and high volume contracts
2. Automate internal processes and improve visibility
Manual contract reviews lend themselves to higher risk and greater delays. By mapping out internal processes and automating with the Kanban Workflow Engine in Gatekeeper, Legal teams and stakeholders can easily see the current status of contracts and the amount of reviews that are incoming.
With visibility of which cards still need to be actioned, everyone in the business can prioritise their time effectively and ensure that hang time for reviews is reduced. The Legal team, contract owners and other stakeholders will know where they need to put their focus when review dates are due.
Contract reviews become standardised, with contracts being automatically routed to the right person. Where more than one stakeholder is required, multiple approval groups can be set up within any internal workflow stage. Parallel approvals are another way to improve efficiency, streamline the process and speed up time-to-contract.
Automate internal processes with Gatekeeper's Kanban Workflow Engine
3. Give colleagues a dedicated space to submit review requests
Centralisation is key to staying in control of contract reviews. It allows everyone to work from the same page, increases visibility and creates an accurate, up-to-date view of the portfolio. Having all contract reviews submitted through a dedicated Employee Portal makes the initial request process a lot easier to manage.
Requests for new contracts can be vastly improved when colleagues use Public Forms. These forms can mandate what information is required before a contract can progress to review. When mandatory data isn’t provided, the review can’t move forward - saving Legal time and the effort of having to chase stakeholders via email.
The history of all contract actions carried out - from a request through to approval - is captured and stamped with names and dates. This provides a defensible audit if the information is ever required at a later stage. These clear timelines save teams time from looking back through emails or chasing colleagues for information.
Allow employees to submit requests through a dedicated portal
Gatekeeper helps the entire organisation to streamline the processes surrounding contract reviews
Working closely with customers who have wanted to reduce their daily workload, improve visibility of the portfolio and work more efficiently across the business, we know that centralisation, automation and collaboration are key to streamlining any process.
Streamlining the contract review process is beneficial for everyone involved. If you’re ready to speed up time-to-contract, save valuable time for in-house Legal teams and prioritise time more effectively, book your demo today.