Use Workflows, Not Spreadsheets to Manage Contracts

Woman with a document speaking with a man.

Contracts must be up to date, with absolute accuracy to avoid misunderstandings.

Contracts, whether formal or informal, written or verbal, form the very basis of business.

A contract can be as simple as a fulfilled order or as complex as the distribution of a family trust. What contracts do is define a business interaction.

When contracts are not managed well (or at all), they almost inevitably underperform. They lose revenue, raise costs, increase risks of legal non-compliance, and cultivate ill will. By contrast, contracts that are managed will maximize revenue, minimize costs, offer greater assurance of legal compliance, and promote strong and healthy business relationships.

As important as contracts are to business operation, they should not be left to inadequate management devices. Spreadsheets may have been a great solution at one time, but today, automated workflows make far more sense for managing business contracts.

Contracts Demand To-the-Minute Accuracy

For contracts to proceed properly, all stakeholders need to be on the same page – sometimes literally! Contracts are rarely carried to completion without alterations and updates, and it’s absolutely imperative that all parties be privy to the latest version of the contract to avoid misunderstandings.

Automated workflows make sense for this, because as each workflow step proceeds, all relevant parties are kept apprised of the current status of the contract. If contract administrators agree to alter one of the terms, the workflow itself can notify all affected parties so that the alteration comes as a surprise to no one.

When a contract term that depends on completion of a prior contract term is ready for action, those responsible can be notified automatically by the workflow, so the contract moves forward with minimal obstacles. These are activities that are difficult or impossible to carry out when you manage contracts with spreadsheets.

Problems with Using Spreadsheets to Manage Contracts

Typing information into the columns of a spreadsheet is easy, and that’s why spreadsheets are beloved for their prowess at crunching numbers and ordering lists. But even with a common, shared spreadsheet, it’s possible for one authorized person to change something while everyone else is oblivious to the change.

Man working on his laptop with a mobile phone to his ear appearing frustrated.

Whose spreadsheet is the “real” master copy? Who made those changes? Workflows prevent such questions.

Additionally, what if several spreadsheet “owners” decide to save their own “master copy” of the spreadsheet in different locations? It can be nearly impossible to determine which copy is the true master copy and which is the most current. When such incidents happen, it’s all too easy to focus on fixing the spreadsheet while deadlines slip by. In other words, spreadsheets have many glaring shortcomings when it comes to managing contracts.

Workflows: Accuracy, Timeliness, Efficiency

Automated workflows do away with the problems of managing contracts using spreadsheets. Access and permissions to different steps of workflows can be tightly controlled, so no one makes a change without the entire system being updated accordingly. You can even design contract workflows so that when a change is made by an authorized person, everyone affected can be notified automatically. Staying literally and figuratively on the same page could not be easier.

What’s more, automated workflows engineer out the inefficiencies that result from using spreadsheets or other methods for managing contracts. Because everything is done electronically, there are no worries about copies being lost, damaged, or forgotten, and instead of contracts being physically delivered to stakeholders, they’re delivered electronically and instantly.

The workflow software you choose makes all the differences when designing automated workflows for handling contracts. PerfectForms is powerful, flexible, and user-friendly enough to allow easy design and modification of the simplest online form to the most complex automated workflow. With its drag-and-drop interface, you can simply put form or workflow elements in place and connect them exactly the way you need to.

We invite you to take a minute to watch the PerfectForms demo video. There you’ll see the many ways automated workflows improve business accuracy and efficiency, eliminating misunderstandings and ensuring that all parties to a workflow are on the same page at all times. Contact us today to learn more.

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