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Contract management processes made easy.

Streamline contract lifecycle management to improve partnerships. Learn how to stay on top of your contracts every step of the way with Adobe Acrobat.

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What is contract management?

  • A contract is a legally binding agreement between business partners that outlines the rights and duties of each party.
  • Contract management guides a business contract from its inception to its signing.
  • Contract management, also called contract lifecycle management (CLM) or contract administration, involves organization, auditing, legal review, and negotiation with stakeholders.
A photo of a person sitting at a desk in an office and working on a laptop computer.
A photo of a person sitting at a desk working on a laptop computer.

The seven steps of contract lifecycle management.

1. Initiation

The first step of contract administration is to know the reasons you need to enter into a contract. Outline your goals, risks, and expectations from the start. This will make every stage of the process flow as smoothly as possible.

2. Negotiation

During contract negotiation, both parties meet to work out the contract terms so that the partnership is as mutually beneficial as possible. At this stage, the parties might draw up and sign a memorandum of understanding to acknowledge their intentions to formalize these talks into an agreement.

3. Generation

Once both parties have settled on the details of procurement, the actual contract creation and authoring begins. Companies may use CLM software to create multiple drafts, and it’s important to keep these iterations handy for recording and proofing purposes.

Many contracts are a collaborative effort between the stakeholders and their respective legal teams, which adds time to this stage, but it’s best practice to be as thorough as possible and make milestones and pricing clear for all parties.

4. Approval

At this stage, management must approve the contract and officially set the partnership in motion. Bottlenecks often happen during the contract approval process; prompt management is often needed to keep the contract workflow moving. Before you sign off on a contract, be sure to consult a legal professional or your team’s legal department.

5. Execution

Once the contract is approved, it’s time to turn words into action. Store your contract, but keep it on hand to resolve any disputes or questions as they arise.

6. Auditing

The job isn’t over after the contract is in motion. You should establish an audit trail and schedule regular contract reviews to make sure contractual obligations are being upheld on both ends. You can save time hunting for stray documents by using a digital contract repository to organize and store key contracts, and make all contract data and metrics easily searchable.

7. Renewal or termination

If the contract renewal dates aren’t specified, you’ll need to evaluate whether to terminate the agreement or draw up a new contract. Businesses miss out on a bigger bottom line by letting contracts expire. This is one area where a contract management tool can make all the difference, by helping you renew contracts and collect signatures using automation.

The value of robust contract management software.

Contract management can be a time-consuming and complex business, but Adobe Acrobat Sign can help. Companies often hire a contract manager and automate the process with contract lifecycle management software to keep partnerships running smoothly.

Whether you’re an independent wedding photographer or a growing tech startup, the challenge of managing contracts grows as your business grows. If you’re juggling many contracts at once, it’s wise to keep them all safely in a centralized repository. One CLM solution is to create a digital contract management control center or document management platform. This will help you manage everything from sourcing to procurement to contract execution, minimizing the risk of human error and maximizing the value of your contracts.

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Take your contract management digital with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

From electronic signatures to reviewing PDFs on the go, a digital contract lifecycle management solution is the best way to keep your contracts on track.

An example of a contract document on a laptop. At the bottom of the contract is a space to sign electronically using Adobe Acrobat Sign. An example e-signature is shown.

Go paperless.

Kick off the process with Acrobat Pro and create your own contract template. E-docs save your business time and money and eliminate logistical nightmares involving mail deliveries, lost documents, different time zones, and more.

Collaborate from anywhere.

Throughout the negotiation process, it’s crucial that all parties can access, edit, and comment on the document. With Acrobat Pro, you can collaborate in real time, from any device, and keep everyone on the most current draft of the contract. When it’s time to sign, everyone can e-sign online.

Sign, seal, and deliver (sans paper).

By automating your approval workflows, you can skip the management bottleneck and collect e-signatures in one click. You can even keep track of your contract’s progress on any device.

Dial in your workflow with integrations.

You can pair Acrobat Pro with a contract management system that you already use, like IBM, Salesforce, Oracle, and more. Streamline your complex contracts and maximize their functionality with CLM integrations.