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Randy Bishop

Contract Management for Small Businesses: Why You Need It & How To Make It Work

For small businesses, every decision carries weight, especially when it comes to managing contracts. 

These vital documents capture the essence of partnerships, agreements, and collaborations. But their significance goes beyond the ink on paper. Effective contract management helps small businesses safeguard their interests, anticipate challenges, and ensure growth. When contract management is done right, small businesses can create a lasting, scalable process that will help them create strong relationships and stay ahead of their contractual obligations. 

In this guide, we’ll dive into why contract management software is essential for small businesses and how you can use it to streamline your operations and set yourself up for long-term success.  

TL;DR 

  • Managing contracts is critical for small businesses, ensuring growth, compliance, and strong relationships.
  • Small businesses face unique challenges, from lack of resources to unpredictable growth. 
  • Contract management software like ContractSafe can help small businesses streamline operations and identify growth opportunities.

Why Small Businesses Need Contract Management Software

When every transaction, every handshake, and every signed page holds a world of potential, managing agreements effectively could mean the difference between success and failure for a small business. 

Here’s where small business contract management software swoops in, transforming these challenges into streamlined operations and tangible growth opportunities.

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Resources Are Limited 

Does your business have a dedicated contract manager? We didn’t think so. 

Small businesses often operate on tight margins, and that means your team probably wears a lot of hats. 

Without a dedicated staff for each role, the intricacies of managing contracts can become, well, unmanageable. While Jim from marketing might be doing just fine juggling a few contracts, adding more work and responsibility to his already-heavy load means important tasks may slip through the cracks. 

Plus, expecting team members like Jim to handle contracts without the proper tools or training can lead to inefficiencies, errors, or even compliance mishaps. 

This is where contract management software can lighten the load, making sure that even those with limited contract management experience can manage contracts effectively while still focusing on their primary jobs. 

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With features like contract automation, templates, data extraction, and more, such software ensures that a small team can achieve more. By cutting down on administrative tasks, team members can pivot their focus to strategy and growth.

Growth Can Be Unpredictable

Growth can be both exciting and intimidating for small businesses. As you deal with different types of contracts, managing them becomes even tougher. 

Contract management software is built to handle this growth. Not only can it help your business stay organized as more contracts pour in but it can adapt to your growing team. 

Look for a solution like ContractSafe that offers unlimited users so that no matter how quickly your team grows, you’ll never have to worry about budgeting your software spend around new personnel.

Compliance Challenges Are Everywhere 

Running a small business means you have to follow lots of rules to keep your contracts in check. 

First, there's legal compliance — like keeping customer information safe and making sure you're doing things by the book. Then, there's contractual compliance — like remembering when a renewal is approaching or making sure you're fulfilling your part of the contract. 

Contract management software can help with both of these things. Here's how:

Legal compliance: A CMS contract repository keeps all your important documents safe in one place. This way, you can make sure you're following data regulations. It also has built-in audit trails to keep everything transparent. 

Contractual compliance: A CMS sends you timely alerts when an important date or a renewal approaches. And tracking and reporting tools help you see what's going well and what you might need to look at more closely.

Together, these features help small businesses deal with legal and contractual compliance easily and accurately. 

Building Strong Relationships Is Paramount

The backbone of many small businesses is the relationships they foster with clients and vendors. And how you deal with contracts is a huge part of this. Proactive, transparent contractual processes lay the groundwork for trust. 

Contract management software can reinforce transparency and trust with these features:

  • Automated alerts and reminders: Punctuality lets your clients and vendors know that they can count on you, and alerts and reminders help by ensuring you’re always on top of deadlines. 

  • Direct communication: These same reminders can even be sent directly to clients and vendors, providing updates from you about the contracts. 

  • Streamlined approvals: Approval workflows can help keep a contract moving, avoiding hangups or delays while ensuring documents are still getting the attention they need.  While being punctual and clear may seem obvious, they’re traits that often get lost in the contract management process. 

Contract Formats Are All Over the Place 

As the smaller party in many relationships, small businesses are usually signing contracts drafted by other organizations. Although you have the same opportunity to redline and negotiate, each contract in their database is likely to look different than the next. That can make extracting important data difficult. 

But with contract management software, technology can do some of the heavy lifting for you.While every contract might be different, software can standardize the way you store and manage them. 

AI finds and extracts the details you need, allowing you to easily organize and tag your documents, making data retrieval quick and painless. 

With the right contract management software, small businesses can efficiently organize, manage, and retrieve critical contract information, no matter how differently each contract is worded or structured.

How Small Businesses Can Use Contract Management Software Effectively

Contracts are the lifeblood of business operations, and for a small enterprise, they can dictate the course of success. The need to preserve the value of these contacts cannot be overstated, especially when the stakes are so high.

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Centralize Your Contracts

Ever lost a contract in a pile of paperwork or struggled to retrieve a digital copy from an overflowing inbox? We've all been there. But imagine a world where every contract you've ever signed, drafted, or even archived is in one place. 

Accessible. Searchable. Safe.

How to get there:

Start with a mindset shift. Think digital, think organized. Transition all your contracts, whether they're tucked away in filing cabinets or saved in various email threads, to your chosen contract repository.

Once they're all in there, don’t just leave them be. Categorize, tag, and back them up. This isn’t just about storage; it’s about easy retrieval. Next time you need that supplier contract from three years ago? It’s just a search away.

By centralizing your contracts, you're paving the way for a seamless, efficient business operation where every contract is at your beck and call.

Make the Most of Timely Notifications

Have you ever missed a contract deadline? It's not only damaging to your business reputation but can also carry legal implications. Fortunately,  the solution is pretty simple. Timely notifications are a safety net for busy small businesses.

How to use them: 

Make sure your CMS can do alerts and reminders the way you need them. Some solutions just offer web-based dashboard notifications, while others, like ContractSafe, send email reminders. Here are some basic tips to use notifications effectively:

  • Track all key obligations: This could include delivery dates, contract renewals, performance check-ins, you name it.

  • Set reminders immediately: As soon as you know that you need to do something on a specific date, schedule the reminder. This could be a week, a month, or even a year out. 

  • Send reminders to the right people: Always double-check where the reminder is going so you’re not sending a contract to be approved internally to a vendor.

  • Embrace automation: AI can automate alerts and reminders by extracting key data from contracts. Let it do its thing (but don’t forget to double-check its work!). 

Staying a step ahead ensures continuity and compliance, reinforcing trust in your business relationships.

Simplify Contract Creation

Does the thought of creating a new contract put you on edge? Maybe it’s the 14th time you’ve used the same terms and conditions or it’s a high-stakes deal where you can’t afford to make a mistake. 

Effective contracts are essential to business, but the process doesn’t have to be cumbersome. By using contract management software, small businesses can create templates that suit their needs with features like native e-signatures, minimizing the need for a tech stack and ensuring they’re not wasting time recreating the same document over and over.

How to do it:

Take a look at your contracts. Notice any overlap? Maybe you’ve written some variation of the same contract multiple times, or you’ve forgotten to include an important clause in a couple.

Now, build some templates around that information.If there’s a contract you use frequently, standardize it. If there’s a clause you keep forgetting, add it to the template.

With standardized templates for the contracts you use frequently, you can guarantee that your agreements include all the information you need and cut down on time in the process.Even better, these templates allow other team members to step in, even if they’re not experienced. 

Building a few standardized templates can help small businesses ensure they’ve covered some key terms and clauses they commonly use. 

Foster Teamwork

Remember the game Telephone? One person starts with a basic phrase and whispers it to the next person and so on until it slowly morphs into a silly, incomprehensible jumble of words that sparks a wave of laughter when the final person in the chain says it out loud. Well, that’s not what you want when managing contracts. 

The strength of a small business is in its tight-knit teams. When everyone's on the same page, things move smoothly. Contract management software isn’t just a tool for legal pros or procurement specialists; it’s for everyone. And with it, you can get everyone on board easily. 

How to do it:

First, you will want to focus on creating a single source of truth, ensuring there’s one definitive version of each contract and any attachments, amendments, or previous versions. And you’ll want to make sure it’s accessible to everyone who needs it. 

A good contract management solution will also allow users to leave notes, so marketing can chime in with an important clause or finance can clarify payment terms. 

With the infrastructure in place, you’ll need to set up workflows. When a contract is ready for approval, who needs to see it? When is it due? Is there a signature required?

Here are some quick tips for creating a functioning workflow:

  • Clearly define who needs to see a contract when it’s ready for approval.
  • Set up alerts and reminders to ensure no contract gets stuck in limbo.
  • Allow team members to leave notes to share insights, ask questions, or provide feedback without changing the original document.
  • Track the approval process so you can spot any bottlenecks.
  • Integrate e-signatures into the workflow so contracts can be signed quickly and easily.  

And don’t forget to be proactive when setting user roles and permissions. Make sure only the people who need access receive it. 

ContractSafe’s customizable sharing and roles lets you grant access to exactly who you want, when you want — with custom set up permissions and user groups.

Analyze Contract Performance

Are you aware of the wealth of insights hidden within your contracts? Beyond the legal jargon, your contracts contain patterns and potential strategies that could greatly benefit your business.

How to get there:

Delve deep into the analytics. Which vendor always delivers on time? Which client is consistently late on their payments? These aren’t just contractual details; they’re business insights.

Spend some time each month exploring the software’s analytics dashboard. It’s like having a chat with your business — listening to its past and planning for its future.

Contract management software’s analytical prowess can spot trends or even generate customizable reports to help you gain a better understanding of how your contracts are performing.

Learn How ContractSafe Can Help Your Small Business

When it comes to contract management, ContractSafe is a lifesaver for small businesses. ContractSafe is…

  • Budget-friendly
  • Intuitive and simple to implement
  • Packed with useful features
  • Devoid of confusing, unnecessary fluff
  • Friendly with other software
  • Supported by award-winning customer service with a dedicated representative for every customer

Want to see it in action? Schedule a demo today, and we'll show you how our software can transform contract management so your team can get back to what matters most: growing your business. 

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