Let’s just say it: Even with the best filing system in the world, managing contracts can be a giant pain. Without a central hub to keep contracts organized, companies find vital documents strewn throughout desktops, Dropbox, Google Docs, and other shared locations—some with questionable security. When it’s time to locate the most up-to-date contract information, you could spend hours sifting through documents to find the relevant data.
But contract management doesn’t have to be this way. A well-organized contract repository solves the problem of which contract is where, both in terms of where it’s stored and where it is in its lifecycle.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about contract repositories and help you choose the best contract database for your business’s needs.
Contract repository meaning and basics
A contract repository, also known as a contract database or document repository, is a unique solution that stores all of your contract information in one accessible location. Companies can keep track of multiple versions of the same document when using a digital contract repository solution.
Additionally, contract repository software allows organizations to store contract meta-data (such as contract type, terms, renewal and expiry dates, data privacy clauses, etc.) in a central location to help keep information organized and easy to analyze by contract or in aggregate. When you organize contracts and data in a way that makes sense for your business processes, you’ll streamline communication between departments and other stakeholders.
Advantages of a contract repository
There are a number of reasons to invest in a contract repository for your business. A good contract management solution saves you time and resources, allowing you to focus on meaningful legal work that adds value rather than on administrative tasks. In addition to ensuring you always know where to look for your contracts when you need them, your digitized contracts are kept safe and easily accessible.
You can even set up digital links between related contracts, allowing you to identify all contracts with a specific company, for example, or all contracts of a specific type, without investing hours of your time in the project. These relationships and search terms reduce the time it takes to gather information for auditing and reporting and makes it easy to track KPIs.
What all of this really boils down to is that contract repositories allow you to close deals faster with more efficient workflows. Here’s how:
• They promote efficiency by pre-populating common data fields through AI and machine learning. (Bonus: This allows other members of your organization to self serve, too.)
• They create transparency so authorized users can access the document, see what changes are made, who’s waiting for next steps, and how the document has evolved.
• They send renewal reminders to help to ensure budgets are maximized, such as renewing when needed and ending when no longer necessary to save money.
• They boost productivity by eliminating paper files and confusing email threads that delay people from doing their most high-priority tasks.
And the more data you input to an AI-driven contract repository, the more useful the tool becomes for your business.
3 must-have features of a contract repository
Once you’ve decided to invest in a contract repository for your business, the next step is determining the best repository for your unique needs. Keep these important factors in mind when deciding on the right contract database for your business:
1. Ease of Use
One of the biggest stressors when investing in any new technology is training all users how to use the new solution. Although it’s important to understand how to train employees on new software, it’s equally important to invest in software that’s intuitive from the get-go or requires little change in management. When choosing an intuitive software, consider factors like whether:
- The software integrates with other systems your business already uses, such as Slack, Salesforce, or Microsoft Teams
- The vendor offers full contract lifecycle management (CLM) features, like document generation and tax management
- The business takes care of onboarding processes or team training for your team
- The system automatically onboards all legacy contracts into the system or requires you to import those contracts yourself
- The system uses smart AI to import and categorize contract data from templates or third-party papers, or whether they require you to input that information manually
2. Search and reporting capabilities
One of the main goals of a contract repository is to save your company time. Contracts are often lengthy, and when you need to find a specific legal clause quickly, you might not have time to read through several different contracts to find what you need.
The right contract repository software makes the process quicker by enabling you to search through contracts and contract terms. Using AI to import and categorize your contracts, a digital repository allows users to search for relevant phrases or keywords to find the information you need and compare different versions of contracts easily. No more wasted time when it comes to contract search and review. AI-powered technology like Lexion’s lets you efficiently run reports across thousands of contracts to answer complex legal questions.
You also want to be sure that once the information is imported into the system, the repository allows you to search quickly, accurately, and easily through its data. This allows you to keep your repository seamlessly up-to-date and to locate the information you need in a few button clicks rather than forcing a team to spend hours searching for what you need.
3. Security and reliability
It’s not enough to know that your software works. You also need to feel confident that the software you’re using doesn’t put your clients’ data at risk.
Data breaches can be expensive and cause your clients to lose trust in your brand. At a bare minimum, the contract repository system you choose must offer a high level of document security. Research the security technology a brand offers to ensure that it’s up-to-date with the latest safety protocols and that data security is at the top of the brand’s priority list.
Another great way to screen vendors is to ensure they are SOC 2 compliant. When a vendor is SOC 2 compliant, it meets a strict set of standards for all its systems and processes. This gives you assurance that the vendor is reputable to work with and that your legal information will be kept secure and confidential.
A digital contract repository solution
Companies with an eye toward growth can do better than a spreadsheet repository. Digital solutions are better equipped to adapt with your company as you aim to maximize your tech budget and serve your entire company.
Outreach is using Lexion’s contract repository to “drive reporting accuracy” and “establish a single source of truth for all signed contracts.” Sam Lee, Director of Legal, calls Lexion “one repo to rule them all!”
Learn how Outreach is gaining 20% time-savings with an AI-driven contract repository.