Using an Intranet for Contract Management

One thing I love about intranets is how many different business problems they can solve. My next few blog posts will be on that topic. Today’s focuses on using an intranet for contract management.

A common challenge for many organizations is storing documents and information related to certain contractual obligations. Examples include: facility leases, documents for oil and gas properties, and equipment leases. Typical challenges include:

  1. Controlled access to adding and updating contracts, typically by a small team of dedicated contract managers.
  2. Controlled, secure access to finding contracts.
  3. Management of contract renewals, including reminders to allow enough time to address key deadlines.
  4. Workflows for approving and negotiating contracts.
  5. Extranet access through a secure portal for clients and/or vendors to access contract information.

An intranet solution like Microsoft SharePoint provides the ability to address all of these needs using either a rapid development, light functionality approach or a more robust and fully functional total solution. My team and I have had the opportunity to develop some best practices and intellectual property around these types of solutions through the course of several implementations for different clients. A few nuggets to start with:

  1. Secure storage of contact information provides an easy initial win in situations where contracts are currently being stored in file cabinets (paper copies), file shares, or Outlook (do you check your e-mail to find the latest version of a contract?). An intranet based document library also allows easy export of contract lists to Excel, a format that many organizations commonly leverage to track their contracts.
  2. Decide how to store your contracts based on how you want to find them. For example, if you need to search by expiration date, contract type, and asset ID, it is important you setup your information architecture / taxonomy properly to support that.
  3. Investing additional time to customize a search and reporting interface is well worth the ease of use it provides to your end users. Default configuration can provide value for smaller teams. Larger teams will derive significant benefit from interfaces customized specifically to their usage (smaller teams will, too, for that matter.)
  4. Consider up front what your audit trail requirements are. These are easy to implement in the beginning and more involved to add as time goes on.

These are just a few starting tips for contract management solutions. Please feel free to contact me to discuss in more detail.

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