Businesses put a lot of time into compiling and managing contracts.
But they also need to think about contract storage.
It’s vital that contracts are kept in an accessible, secure location.
A contract repository system can provide an efficient solution to this problem. Let’s find out more.
In this article, we’ll explain what contract repositories are, the importance of managing them, their benefits, and how to set one up.
- Modern contract repositories keep contracts secure and available through centralized, digital spaces.
- Minimize mistakes, time-wasting, and accuracy issues by utilizing a contract repository.
- Guarantee security and compliance by centralizing your contracts.
- Enjoy all the benefits of a contract repository as part of a comprehensive contract management system.
What is a repository?
A repository is simply a place for storing something.
Traditionally, repositories have been used for storing all manner of things: documents, photos, books, and more.
Today, the term usually applies to a digital repository. A place for storing important files and documents.
Data repositories use the cloud to provide safe spaces where files can be accessed from anywhere.
There are three forms of data repositories. Let’s look at each in more detail.
A data warehouse
Certain companies deal with large volumes of data. For these organizations, simple cloud storage isn’t enough.
They need a space where large volumes of data can be kept, analyzed, and used. A data warehouse is designed for structured data.
This involves data from various areas across an organization.
A data mart
Unlike a data warehouse, a data mart is much more specific. A data warehouse is designed to work for an entire organization.
A data mart supplies data to specific departments or users within an organization. The HR department, for example, might use a data mart for payroll software.
A data lake
Both data warehouses and data marts deal with structured data. A data lake contains large amounts of raw, unstructured data.
Data lakes can serve many purposes. One example is to provide raw data to AI-powered machine learning tools.
What is a contract repository?
As you might expect, a contract management repository is a place for storing contracts. As with all repositories, contract repositories haven’t always been digital.
Traditionally, they were physical locations dedicated to the storage of paper contracts. As you can imagine, in the case of a large enterprise, considerable storage space might be needed.
Today a contract repository is a centralized, digital space for keeping your contracts secure and available. A contract repository is typically part of a wider package of contract management software.
It usually consists of scans of physical documents, PDFs, and other files. Like any digital repository, contracts can be accessed from anywhere.
As long as a user is authorized, they can access files from their PC, mobile device, or tablet.
What does a contract repository contain?
In addition to all of the information captured within the contract, the content stored in a repository will contain metadata.
This is important as it provides contextual information about the contract.
Metadata makes it easier to identify information about the contracts within the repository.
It can also be vital when producing analytical data about an enterprise’s contracts.
Forms of metadata contained in a repository might include:
- The form of contract.
- The condition of the contract (active, inactive, terminated).
- The department that a contract relates to.
- Significant dates.
- List of signatories.
- The ownership of a contract.
- Additional contextual information.
The importance of contract repository management
Contract repository management is very important for a number of reasons.
The process of managing contracts can be extremely involved. This is especially the case with larger organizations.
Each stage of a contract, from initial negotiation through to signing, often has a dedicated team. Each team needs the right information to make informed decisions.
This requires instant access to older versions of contracts, something that is only possible with a repository.
Below are some disadvantages of not having a repository.
- Time wasting – It will take longer to find the files that you need.
- Inaccurate documents – It’s all too easy to select the wrong version of a contract.
- Failure to act on forgotten clauses – Without regular reference to the contract, some payments generated by clauses within it may be missed. This leads to missing financial transactions and incorrect reporting.
- Mistakes – For instance, you may end up renewing unwanted agreements.
In the end, it’s more trouble not having a contract repository.
Although setting one up may seem a hassle, you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
The benefits of centralizing your contracts
As you’ve probably guessed, there are a number of benefits to centralizing your contracts with a repository.
It’s a simple fact that a contract repository makes businesses’ lives easier.
But despite this, as many as 55% of organizations do not have effective contract management systems in place.
Below are some of the advantages that you’re missing out by not having a repository.
Always up to date
A simple mistake, but one made all too often, is businesses using the wrong version of a contract.
Let’s consider two scenarios in which you are negotiating a contract with a client.
In the first scenario, you don’t have a contract repository.
Different versions of the same contract are kept unorganized in filing cabinets.
When it’s time for parties to sign the contract, you pick an outdated version.
The document that was signed did not contain the necessary provisions, so you didn’t achieve the agreement you wanted.
This was all down to poor contract storage management.
Now let’s imagine a scenario where you do have a contract repository. You can easily access the most up-to-date version of a document when needed.
There’s no risk of accidentally choosing the wrong document. The correct version of the document is signed, and all parties are happy.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of maintaining a contract repository is the amount of time saved.
Without a dedicated and organized space for contracts, it’s much harder to find the documents you need.
You and your staff will waste time searching for the right files. Even if you find a contract, you can’t be sure it’s the latest version.
You’ll waste even more time correcting mistakes if you’ve used worked on an out of date version. This is time that could have been spent on more productive tasks.
A smart contract repository ensures that agreements are kept in a centralized space.
With the help of meta tags, you easily find the document you’re looking for.
It’s vital that you have a secure contract repository.
Cybersecurity risks are constantly increasing, as hackers find new ways to breach systems.
A breach of security could lead to the loss of important documents.
You find that customer data is leaked, damaging relations and reputation.
Luckily, the best contract repositories come with advanced security features.
This includes password protection, firewalls, and the ability to control access to documents.
Reduce the risk of non-compliance
It’s essential that your contracts remain compliant with legislation.
Not doing so can lead to considerable fines or worse.
When contracts aren’t easily accessible, it’s harder to monitor them for compliance issues.
A simple mistake can have big consequences.
When you store your contracts in a centralized space, you can access them easily, helping you keep a close eye on contracts and address any compliance issues that arise.
How do you set up a contract repository?
Setting up a contract repository begins by finding the right solution.
Many different providers are available, and you also have a choice of a pure repository and broader contract software.
It’s vital you choose a provider with a strong reputation.
This will give you the best chance of selecting reliable software that is user-friendly and has the features you need.
Having identified potential suppliers, there are two main routes that you can go down.
Repository only solution
For many businesses, all that might be needed is a pure repository for your contracts.
This is filled with features to make contract access and storage easier and more secure.
We’ll explore the bells and whistles these give access to in the next section.
Repository software as part of a wider package
You also have the option of choosing a solution that contains a repository as part of a wider contract management package.
If you select this option, you’ll get all the standard features of a repository.
In addition to these, the best contract management software helps you to automate the creation of contracts.
It will provide templates, workflows, eSignature facilities, and more.
The route that you choose will depend on the needs of your organization and the available budget.
Remember that a contract management package will generally be considerably more expensive. If all you need is high quality storage, this may not be the solution for you.
Crucial contract repository features to guarantee effectiveness
As mentioned, a contract repository gives a user access to a plethora of tools. These help you in a number of ways.
This ranges from managing control of contracts and access to them to locating documents. Every effective contract repository should contain the following features:
On a base level, every contract repository should be able to retrieve metadata.
But beyond this, the tool should be able to extract more in-depth information. This includes information relating to clauses, commitments, and terms.
A document viewer
Your document repository should support native document viewing. In other words, you shouldn’t need to switch to a separate program to view files.
By inputting a few simple queries, you should be able to easily find specific areas of contracts. Advanced search should allow you to search using any of the following:
Your repository should be able to provide insights relating to data within your contracts. These insights might take the form of charts, reports, and tables.
Contracts can often contain sensitive information. For that reason, you won’t want everyone accessing agreements.
Your chosen solution should allow you to control permissions. This ensures that only those with the right level of clearance can view contracts.
Integrate with other programs
It’s useful for your contract repository to integrate with other programs. This allows you to bolster your contracts with cross-program data.
The contract repository solution
Lack of a centralized space for contracts can cause all sorts of problems. You’re restricted in your ability to finalize deals quickly and satisfactorily.
Customers are dissatisfied due to delays. There are potential security risks due to uncontrolled access and a lack of security.
Thankfully, there’s a solution! PandaDoc’s contract management system provides all the benefits of a contract repository.
It can refine your business processes from contract creation to payment.
Not only that, but it can organize all your contracts with multiple addenda and modifications.
Why not begin the process of streamlining your contract management? Request a demo today and see how PandaDoc can help you.