Table of Contents
What is a Contract Repository?
A contract repository is a digital storage system that houses all of an organization’s contracts in one central location. It is a secure and organized way to manage, track, and store contracts throughout their entire lifecycle.
Contract repositories might contain:
- Sales contracts
- Employment contracts
- Vendor contracts
- Reseller agreements
- Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
- Lease agreements
- Service level agreements (SLAs)
- Legal documents
- Compliance paperwork
- Contract drafts
- Contract renewals
- Amendments to existing contracts
- Supporting documents like quotes, proposals, statements of work (SOWs), and addendums
With contract management software, all of these documents can be easily uploaded and organized by category, type, and date. It restricts access based on user roles and permissions, so only authorized personnel can view each document or make contract amendments. This makes it simple to access any contract at any time without sifting through physical filing systems or worrying about document security.
- Contracts database
- Contract repository software
- Document repository
Importance of Contract Repositories in the Contract Lifecycle
A contract repository plays a crucial role in the management of contracts throughout their entire lifecycle. In this day and age, there are plenty of reasons to use a contract repository over your typical filing cabinet or shared drive.
- Centralized storage and management. All contracts have a safe place on the cloud, meaning access isn’t restricted to a specific location. This makes it easy to access contracts from anywhere and eliminates the need for physical storage space.
- Improved visibility. Contract management software integrates with CPQ and CRM systems, making it easy to view a contract’s status and track it through the deal cycle, negotiation, or renewal process.
- Enhanced security. Contract repositories offer advanced security features to protect sensitive and confidential documents from unauthorized users. They also offer role-based access controls, which prevent unauthorized employees from editing or removing a critical document.
- Time-saving. Contract repositories automatically handle the administrative burden of handling business documents, reducing the time spent on contract management tasks and allowing employees to focus on more valuable business activities.
- Better organization. With the ability to categorize contracts by type, date, and several other identifiers, it’s easier to keep track of contract renewals, expiration dates, and terms.
- Contract compliance. A cloud-based contract repository ensures all documents are stored and managed per company standards and national/international privacy laws.
How a Digital Contract Repository Works
A contract repository works by storing contracts in a central location, making it easier for employees to access and manage them. Here’s how it typically works:
- A team member creates a new contract or uploads it into the system.
- The contract management software checks it against company standards and compliance regulations.
- The system extracts contract metadata for indexing and categorization.
- An admin assigns user roles appropriate permissions to view, edit, or approve the contract (unless the software handles this automatically with preset rules).
- The system tracks the contract through its entire lifecycle, with updates and changes recorded in real-time.
- Reminders are automatically set for key dates and milestones, such as renewals or expirations. An admin can set additional triggers and reminders for specific events.
- Once the contract has been fulfilled or terminated, it can be archived for future reference.
Throughout the whole contract lifecycle, the contract is easily accessible in an interface similar to a shared drive or cloud storage system. The crucial difference between a shared drive and a digital document repository is that a contract management system includes advanced compliance, security, organization, and tracking features.
Advantages of Using a Digital Contract Repository
Searchable Contract Database
Perhaps the most significant benefit of using a digital contract repository is that it offers a dedicated database to store and organize all of your contracts. This makes it easy to search for specific contracts, terms, or clauses contained within them.
Organizes and Synchronizes Contract Data
Contracts are loaded with critical dates and milestones that require close attention. With a digital repository, the admin can set reminders for expiration dates, renewal deadlines, and compliance obligations to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Automated reminders and notifications eliminate the need to track these dates manually. Plus, metadata extraction and categorization make it easier to find contracts, even if you don’t know the exact title or date.
With a contract repository, all versions of a contract are stored in one place. This makes it easy to find the most up-to-date iteration of the contract and track changes throughout the contracting process. That way, stakeholders can be sure they’re all contractually agreeing to terms they actually intend to.
Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
A contract repository streamlines the entire contract lifecycle, from creation to renewal or termination. Each stage of the process can be managed within the system, with automated reminders and notifications keeping everyone on track.
Since contracts often contain sensitive information, contract repositories offer advanced security features and permissions to ensure only authorized personnel can access and make changes to documents. A contract repository encrypts your record data using AES 256-bit encryption and TLC 1.2 standards, the same level of security financial institutions use.
A central contract repository allows team members to collaborate on a contract in real-time, eliminating the need for back-and-forth email communication and contract versioning issues. By accelerating the negotiation process, it guarantees that all parties are collaborating based on the latest version of the document.
Contracting errors cost your business in terms of time and resources, but compliance errors can lead to legal fees and penalties. A contract repository minimizes the chances of these costly mistakes by ensuring contracts are stored, managed, and tracked according to company standards and compliance regulations.
Tracks Contracts Across Multiple Departments
With a contract repository, all departments in an organization can store and access contracts in one central database. This allows for better coordination and visibility across different teams, preventing duplicate contracts or conflicting terms.
Take your deal desk team for example. Your sales and legal team work together to negotiate and manage contracts with customers. What they don’t do is work alongside each other. A digital contract repository enables teams to access the same document without physical handoffs or email exchanges, saving time and reducing miscommunication risks. Most importantly, you can use your contract management software solution to track the process through the deal cycle.
Mitigates Risk of Non-Compliance
Noncompliance can have severe consequences for a company, from legal penalties for financial noncompliance to damage to your brand’s reputation for an accidental contract breach. Your contract management system will know local and international laws, and you can program it to flag noncompliance instances specific to that contract.
One of the most important areas this helps is with contract modification according to ASC 606. When a company and its contracting party change a contract’s scope, price, or delivery terms, there are revenue recognition implications. Integrating CLM with your other business software (CPQ, subscription management, and billing) ensures your accounting system automatically reflects those obligations and changes.
What to Look for in a Contract Management Software Contract Repository
Control over who has access to contracts is the most important feature to look for in a contract repository because it has the most serious implications for your business. You can use the software to dictate who has access to specific documents and features, ensuring only authorized parties see/edit/share sensitive information.
Sharing and Collaboration
Contract redlining and negotiation processes require collaboration between different departments within your organization, plus the other contracting party’s team. One of the biggest challenges most companies face is getting everyone on the same page. This creates lots of friction and drags the process on for weeks or months.
The ability to negotiate and revise contracts in the same interface you’re sharing and storing them, in real-time, without emailing back and forth is a must-have. Additionally, having the ability to track updates and changes to contracts streamlines the negotiation process.
In a contract repository, security features play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive contractual information.
Here are the essential security features for your cloud-based repository:
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Firewalls and intrusion detection
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) and digital signatures
- Data backups/deletion policies
- Compliance with international privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA
Your system should also be able to conduct routine security audits to ensure the repository remains secure.
Contract Workflow Automation
Your repository should do more than just store documents. You want to use a system that streamlines and automates contract management procedures, from creation and approval to renewal or termination. That way, there’s no need for manual intervention in routine tasks.
Here’s what that might look like:
- Automated approval workflows for contracts based on thresholds and conditions you would set. For example, if a contract value exceeds $10,000, it automatically routes for executive approval.
- Pre-approved templates that simplify the creation of legal documents by non-lawyers. You can also tailor these templates to reflect your business processes and industry requirements
- Alerts or notifications sent out when a contract requires renewal or expires. This ensures you stay on top of contract renewals and avoid any potential disruptions in business
- Audit trails that track all changes made to a contract, including who made the changes and when. This simplifies compliance and risk management processes
- A dynamic contract builder you can use to create NDAs, MSAs, partnership arrangements, sales quotes and other business documents in a variety of formats (e.g. Word, PDF and HTML)
- Tracking features to see who has viewed and edited the contract.
- Interactive commenting and editing functionality so customers, contract managers, and deal desk members can collaborate in real time.
- Built-in e-signature capability to finalize contracts quickly and securely.
When you find a CLM solution that accomplishes all these things (and offers a document repository), you can streamline the process from start to finish, rather than just the storage and retrieval part.
A clause library is essentially a pre-approved database with standard contract clauses your team can use to assemble contracts quickly and accurately. It significantly accelerates the contract creation process, reducing the need for extensive legal reviews and ensuring consistency across all documents.
By reusing pre-approved rules and templates in your contracts, you reduce the risk of legal risks, improve compliance, and increase the overall efficiency of your contract management process. Since they’re plug-and-play, you won’t have to worry about potential errors every time you create a document.
For everything from revenue recognition post-modification to contract risk assessments, the best contract management tools offer AI-driven guidance. With these tools, you can set up risk profiles based on specific contract terms that may raise red flags for your business. You also get predictive capabilities and recommendations to support decision-making processes.
Ideally, you should opt for a contract repository that can accommodate your business as it grows. Your CLM software should be able to manage any number of contracts, users, and rule customizations without compromising on performance or security.
Ideally, your contract repository should offer some form of analytics so that you can track metrics like:
- How long it takes to negotiate a contract
- How much time is spent on each stage of the negotiation process
- Number of contracts in each stage (drafting, review, approval)
Using these insights, you can identify bottlenecks and areas of improvement in your contracting process, which leads to better efficiency and cost savings down the line.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM is the essential integration for your contract repository. You need it to…
- automatically sync signed documents with signer details and files
- capture data from integrated forms and reflect your customers’ profile in the system
- pull data from CRM fields into the contract repository to populate documents with personalized information (like names and addresses)
- proactively manage renewals, upsells, and cross-sells
- ensure all data entered into your CLM tool (e.g. customer details) is available in your CRM for use by other teams
- directly access contract records based on the customer record in your CRM
- send and receive real-time contract updates via email/SMS notifications
Essentially, you need CLM/CRM integration because it turns the contract process into a seamless part of your customer lifecycle
Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)
CPQ software is a must-have tool for sales teams because it enables them to:
- configure product and service packages
- generate accurate pricing quotes
- create sales proposals
Integrating your CLM with CPQ means you can:
- leverage up-to-date pricing information (from CPQ) to ensure contract accuracy
- capture deal-related data from proposals and contracts to create a closed loop between sales, finance, and legal teams
- generate contracts from within the CPQ software itself and automatically transfer them to your CLM system
- ensure that contract approvals are carried out in accordance with pricing rules set up in your CPQ tool
With CPQ/CLM integration, your salespeople can quickly produce accurate contracts — no more manual entry or copying and pasting information from one system to another. Plus, you get better visibility into the entire quote-to-cash process.
Enterprise Resource Management (ERP)
ERP software plays a critical role in managing your contract lifecycle. From invoicing and billing to budgeting and expense management, an ERP system tracks all processes related to financials.
Integrating your CLM with ERP means you can:
- automatically pass data between the systems (e.g. when contracts are signed)
- trigger alerts for renewals or cancellations
- track payments and collections with real-time visibility into contract execution
- improve audit trails with document management capabilities integrated into both tools
Since contracts are a critical aspect of your financials, integrating CLM with ERP can help you prevent costly mistakes and ensure compliance throughout the contract lifecycle.
If you work with contingent labor or use vendors for goods or services, you need a way to track all vendor-related contracts and documents. A CLM tool integrated with your vendor management system offers:
- easier access to vendor data in the contract repository
- standardized workflows for onboarding new vendors
- automated alerts for expiring contracts (so you can renegotiate terms)
- financial tracking for payments and invoices by vendor
Having this information at your fingertips can help you better manage your vendor relationships and ensure that all contracts are compliant with regulatory requirements.
Subscription-based businesses like SaaS need a CLM system that integrates with their subscription management tool. With this integration, you can:
- easily transfer customer data from the subscription management tool to the contract repository for automatic document population
- capture and track recurring payments and renewals
- set up alerts for upcoming expiration dates or changes in subscription plans
- seamlessly manage changes in subscription terms (e.g. upgrades, downgrades, cancellations)
Integrating your CLM with subscription management helps streamline the entire process from customer acquisition to contract execution and renewal.
Billing software is the final piece of the puzzle for businesses that need to track and manage financial transactions related to contracts. In the case of subscription businesses, it’s usually natively integrated with subscription management. For service- and contract-based businesses, it’s a standalone product.
By integrating your contract repository with billing software, you can:
- sync contract terms with billing terms to ensure accurate and timely invoicing
- automatically generate invoices based on contract terms
- automate payments based on contract milestones or triggers (e.g. delivery, performance)
- track payments and trigger alerts for overdue or declined payments
- access all financial data in one place for better budgeting and forecasting
People Also Ask
What is a CLM system?
A contract lifecycle management (CLM) system is a software solution that streamlines and automates the entire contract process, from creation to execution to renewals. It helps businesses manage their contracts more efficiently, reduce risk, and improve compliance.
What is the purpose of contract data?
Contract data serves as a record of all relevant information related to a particular contract, such as parties involved, terms and conditions, payment schedules, and important dates. It’s crucial for tracking and managing contracts throughout their lifecycle, ensuring accuracy and compliance, and providing visibility into the overall contract process.
What are the benefits of contract digitization?
The main benefit of contract digitization is the ability to automate and streamline processes, which dramatically reduces manual tasks and errors. It also allows for easier access to contract data, better collaboration among stakeholders, and improved visibility into the entire contract process. Ultimately, it saves time and improves efficiency throughout the contract lifecycle.