Shortening contract lifecycles with Microsoft 365

Contract management can be either a laborious or swift undertaking, depending on the needs of your organisation. Occasionally, the contract lifecycle cannot be determined, due to factors such as:

  • How many people (and subsequent departments) involved in the contract process
  • The ease of the software you’re using
  • What the contracts are for (multi million pound projects, or hiring staff?)
  • Governance protocols in place
  • How many approval stops you have in place before the contract can proceed (and how many people are able to approve these)

What are the standard steps in a basic contract lifecycle?

As a minimum , you’d expect the standard stages within a contract lifecycle to be:

  1. Request or setup for the contract
  2. The creation of the document(s) needed within the contract “set” (many of these may be templates to be edited)
  3. Approval of the edits made to various document sets (approval can come from different departments or even partnered companies)
  4. Review and final approval
  5. Sign off / closing the contract
  6. Storage of the document set (not necessarily a stage, but an important part of contract management is having a central location for people to access)
  7. Renewal of outdated documents or information after a set period of time

The above factors are subject to change depending on your renewal policies, the number of people involved and lots more. There’s not always a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to contract lifecycle management.

Where does the contract lifecycle get held up?

In our experience, contract lifecycles (and many similar document management processes) are held up by things such as:

  • Poor permissions – sometimes the relevant people don’t have permissions to review to move the document along
  • Poor architecture – there is not ‘central place’ for the contract to live
  • The lack of a central place means people resort to email tennis – this is massively prone to human error
  • Lack of governance. Contract sets can contain very sensitive information. Without suitable governance, extra time is sometimes spent making sure mistakes can’t be made

How can Microsoft 365 shorten the contract lifecycle?

Microsoft 365 contains a plethora of apps (and therefore buildable solutions) to help companies make the most out of the contract lifecycle process. Apps such as SharePoint, Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps and Teams can help build workflows, notifications, reports and more. These automated steps remove the need for unnecessary admin.

Contract lifecycles can be shortened by being simplified as much as possible. Not all companies will be able to shorten their lifecycles, however – if the user experience is made easier, things will naturally be completed quicker. Microsoft 365 can be designed any way you want. It’s important that users can find the right version of documents within a contract set. This could be achieved by compulsory metadata for effective search, and a simplified interface within your company’s intranet.

We’ve built solutions using Microsoft 365 for our clients – read a case study here!