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Consider Contract Management Software for Legal Departments

CobbleStone Software Clause Extraction Machine Learning

July 7, 2022

The contract negotiations process can be daunting, to put it lightly. 

The back-and-forth nature of negotiations can feel like a never ending game of chess. In turn, general counsel can face confusion and contract life cycle management inefficiencies internally and with external stakeholders. Without a centralized procedure, both sides of the contract negotiations chessboard can become befuddled — unsure of their next move.

There are several reasons that manual or obsolete contract management methods can lead contract parties in negotiation to reach a stalemate, unaware of how to proceed with contract collaboration. These reasons often include:

  • Inclusion of high-risk contract clauses.
  • Time-consuming contract drafting.
  • Too many unaccounted for revisions.
  • Unclear and disorganized contract versions.
  • Incomplete or untimely contract negotiation tasks.
  • Missed key dates and milestones.

Thankfully, there is a resource at the disposal of general counsel to leave contract negotiations stalemates behind and make headway with streamlined, automated, and user-friendly contract collaboration. That resource is contract management software for legal departments.

CONTRACT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR LEGAL DEPARTMENTS

Contract management software for legal departments can allow general counsel to centrally manage the contract life cycle, and offer in-demand legal operations tools, including:

  • Easy-to-use contract request intake forms.
  • Intelligent clause extraction and text extraction.
  • Automated contract authoring and assembly.
  • Version tracking with comprehensive audit trails.
  • Clause ownership.
  • Intelligent workflow automation and task management.

General counsel and legal departments should consider contract management software for better clause management. General counsel can leverage intelligent clause extraction within web-enabled contract management software to easily extract clauses and other legal text. AI-based contract life cycle management software offers natural language processing with fuzzy language matching for clauses, legal phrases, and terms. Contract intelligence can identify positive, negative, or neutral contract language based on easily configured rules. General counsel can merge clause language with contract templates within their pre-approved clause library. 

Additionally, the more contract documents are introduced to AI-based contract management software, the more contract intelligence can recognize different types of clauses — presenting a confidence percentage in clause recognition each time a contract clause is introduced during data extraction (Figure 1). This way, general counsel can be ever more confident in a system that exponentially learns from contracts!

LEGAL CONTRACT AUTHORING

Contract authoring is a crucial aspect of contract negotiations – so general counsel should consider investing in contract management software that can streamline contract writing.

Leading contract management software can allow general counsel to streamline the contract creation process by merging mission-critical data fields with templates from an organization’s pre-approved library. 

Documents can easily be exported in MS Word, PDF, and other file formats. 

Contract document collaboration can be performed internally and with stakeholders within a native, online document editor. Advanced solutions offer seamless MS Word, MS Outlook, MS Office 365, and Google Workspace connectors as well for streamlined collaboration on familiar word processing tools.

Advanced contract management software can streamline contract authoring and document editing on a native, online document editing and collaboration tool that provides an experience similar to leading, familiar word processing tools.

Version tracking and audit trails are essential features to bear in mind when considering the implementation of contract life cycle management software for legal operations.

Leading contract management software empowers general counsel to track contracts down to the document and contract data field level. For contract document editing, AI-based contract management software can automate document version tracking by saving tidy, numbered versions whenever edits are made to a contract document. This feature allows legal teams and stakeholders to clearly see the editing progress of a document and navigate document versions for reference.

Advanced legal operations software can track original values, dates, times, and employees that modify a field. This way, not only can general counsel oversee contract document versions, but they can track contract life cycle down to the metadata level.

Clause ownership is an instrumental feature in safeguarding the integrity of clauses and enforcing accountability during contract negotiations. Contract management software can be configured so that if changes are made to a section or clause, the clause owner can be notified. Users can assign an owner to a specific contract clause. If that assigned clause is drafted into a contract and any stakeholder tries to edit it, CLM software can add the owner of that clause or section to the contract approval process and prompt them to approve changes.

INTELLIGENT CONTRACT WORKFLOW AUTOMATION

Another critical reason organizations implement contract management software is the incredible ROI of contract workflow automation for task completion and more.

Intelligent workflow automation can help general counsel engage the right people at the right time with virtually unlimited contract notifications and automated task alerts that seamlessly sync with email inboxes, MS Outlook or Gmail calendars, and contract life cycle management software calendars.

Workflows can easily be configured for virtually any area of contract life cycle management software, including workflows based on contract request types, data fields, rules, and more. Contract software administrators can accept and reject actions, escalate tasks for accountability, and gain visibility with a graphical workflow visualizer that displays contract approval expectations.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Manual contract management processes can result in contract negotiations delays.
  • These stalemates can stall CLM, decrease revenue, and increase risk.
  • Contract management software can eliminate CLM bottlenecks.
  • Consider implementing contract life cycle management software for its leading tools for legal operations.

By Sean Heck

Sean Heck is Content Marketing Manager at CobbleStone Software.

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