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How to Use Document Management to Negotiate Your Best Contract

Written by Charles Ambrose on 10 July 2020

An effective document management system (DMS) is a vital component in preparing, negotiating, and approving processes when creating a contract. Without a capable DMS, you could lose time and money, and end up with poor contract communications. In contrast, an effective DMS can boost value exchange to create better and more profitable deals.

In many companies, electronic document management systems have replaced paper-based systems. In this way, businesses can take advantage of modern computing for better contracting results. Seven key ways you can use DMS to support contract negotiations include:

Regulate and Secure Access

Managers and support staff often need instant access to information. An electronic portal or contract manager software can track who gets access to critical documents. The portal can limit which kinds of documents can print and the devices that can display the content.

Regulating access maintains the integrity of documents during the contract lifecycle. Also, creating an electronic portal creates a complete audit trail for contract lifecycle management. The system can, on-demand, produce a document's chain of custody. Negotiations can run smoother when it's clear who made what changes and when.

Create a Template Library

Scattered contracts can pose a real challenge to your time and resource lifecycle management. Once you have a DMS in place, begin creating libraries of pre-approved document templates and contract clauses.

Having a template library can streamline the contract lifecycle and enhance contract performance. Negotiation classes can support your team in creating the right messaging in your practical template library. Through negotiation training and role-playing, your team can identify common contract drafting needs to include in your templates. Four ways a template library can improve contract negotiations include:

  • Reducing the time taken drafting offers and agreements.
  • Increasing enforcement of internal rules such as the use of pre-approved language.
  • Boosting faster contract revision or customization.
  • Improving the tracking of deviations from pre-approved clauses and standards.

Automate Processes

Integrating your contract management platform with back-office management software applications can speed up contract creation. For instance, your company can have a system that automatically channels resources upon the signing of an agreement. This kind of automation can enhance:

  • The assignment of personnel to perform the contract lifecycle management functions.
  • The sending of budget proposals to the finance and accounting teams.
  • The allocation of funds to run operations.
  • The provision of timely and accurate logistics support.

Use History Tracking

In the middle of negotiations, you might need to refer to an earlier contract version. You may also want to make changes to your current version and monitor document redlining. Clarity is a key teaching in negotiation classes for supporting positive business relationships, and reviewers may want to know what has changed between versions.

Electronic DMS should capture a digital log of all approvals and alterations. History tracking features of the contract management software supports:

  • Separating drafts from final documents.
  • Managing and securing document versions.
  • Creating standard folders, subfolders, and directories.
  • Tracking version changes between revisions.
  • Establishing uniform file naming conventions.

Assign Policy Records

Most business contracts do not exist in a vacuum. A host of policy documentation may support each contract and agreement. An active DMS can assign relevant policy documents to sections of the contract drafting.

Policy records can provide supporting documents and evidence of due diligence. Assigning policy records ensures compliance with:

  • Company policy
  • Legal requirements
  • Third-party agreements
  • Internal workflows

Create Obsolescence Plans

Even the best contracts come to an end or become outdated. If an obsolete contract is still visible in your centralized repository, then customers may complain and doubt your information. Presenting customers with outdated plans can hurt brand loyalty and lose customers.

When using the DMS, you can establish a plan to archive obsolete contracts. Negotiation classes propose that negotiators identify the contract's timelines and deadlines, and ensure these don’t work against you or your company. Use the agreed timescales to schedule document review cycles.

Ensure your information is always available and correct. Put in place a document obsolescence plan to file away old contracts. Limit the archive's view to select users. Include explicit identifiers that the contract is no longer in use.

Take Advantage of Technology

Electronic DMS comes with many possibilities. Digital DMS captures content using optical character recognition (OCR) and tracks changes. The system then uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to speed up your data processing and classification.

Advanced DMS is getting better at the reading context from document content. AI can group documents of similar topics in clusters by date, industry, or people involved.

Digital DMS can also integrate with online storage and cloud-based collaboration. Negotiators can access information with any device, even when outside their offices. Managers, reviewers, and support staff can work with the negotiators in real-time. Teams can work together to adjust strategies. Using tech, negotiators can claim or create more value, delivering better contracts.

Final Insights

Proper document management can work to improve your contract negotiations. An active DMS can support your team in making better offers that win acceptance. Your team can also reach agreements faster and claim more value during negotiations.

An electronic portal can increase security by limiting access to sensitive files and provide an audit trail. The portal speeds up document retrieval for authorized staff. The use of new technologies such as AI has the power to reduce human involvement in manual tasks. The DMS allows humans to spend more time to improve on negotiation strategies.

Author’s bio: Charles Ambrose holds his master’s degree in writing, with coursework in conflict management. As a content creator, he has been writing and editing articles that bring negotiating knowledge to the world.

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