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Contracts and contract management

What does good look like?

Contracts and contract management

What does good look like?

Mar 23 · 2 min read
Charles Drayson
Mar 23 · 2 min read

Legito isn’t just for contracts or legal teams, but today we look at best practices in contracts and contract management.

Everybody is looking for ways to get contracts signed faster, but many organisations make it so darn hard.

Are your contracts reasonable, or are you using contracts as a big disclaimer? If you received the same terms, would you be happy to sign them? Sure, be legally prudent – but don’t use a contract to avoid all responsibility. 

Do your contracts say anything useful about what you are selling? Do they set clear expectations and describe steps that actually happen? Or, have you adopted some generic form that could just as easily apply to a different organisation? In short, are they useable?

Do your contracts look like they were drafted by a law clerk in the office of Charles Dickens? Are they full of archaic phrases and redundant ‘filler text’? Did the author create them by cutting and pasting from some crusty old text? For a candid appraisal of the disfunction in contract drafting, look up Ken Adams.

 

Is every deal a new adventure, or have you got a slick process for getting stuff done?

You want your customers to feel like you know your business, right? You want to look organised, consistent, and ready to deliver. Why, then, would you have a contract process that never flows the same way on any two deals and, worse, depends on the organising skills of an overworked contracts team? If you’re consistent and slick, it makes it easier for stakeholders to work with you.

Consistent and slick doesn’t mean inflexible and limited. Leave space for humans to do what humans do best, but give them tools to help them stay on top of the tedious tasks. Add only the controls that you need – it’s really hard to impose contracts and processes on customers unless you enjoy a monopoly in a market where customers want what you have.

Does your process recognise the reality in your customer’s world? Have you made it easy for customers to complete their procurement process? You know it’s coming, so anticipate it.

Organisations must learn from experience to make it better next time.

There will always be difficult customers who make it hard to get deals done. I’m not suggesting your contracts should appease the most unreasonable customers. But, if you regularly get the same old issues delaying deals from normal customers, it’s time to evolve.

There are at least three options to avoid history repeating itself:

 

  1. Keep the substance, but change the wording – do this when customers think you are imposing something worse than what you intend (usually because a lawyer tries too hard to be ‘watertight’).

     

  2. Remove the problem contract text if you can, or if it’s plainly unreasonable. You’ve been found out – deal with it.

     

  3. Do a better job of setting expectations upfront – so the problem doesn’t come as a surprise when it appears in a contract. For example, if you want payment in advance, get the sales team to make that clear in proposals and quotes.

Legito isn’t just for contracts or legal teams, but today we look at best practices in contracts and contract management.

Everybody is looking for ways to get contracts signed faster, but many organisations make it so darn hard.

Are your contracts reasonable, or are you using contracts as a big disclaimer? If you received the same terms, would you be happy to sign them? Sure, be legally prudent – but don’t use a contract to avoid all responsibility. 

Do your contracts say anything useful about what you are selling? Do they set clear expectations and describe steps that actually happen? Or, have you adopted some generic form that could just as easily apply to a different organisation? In short, are they useable?

Do your contracts look like they were drafted by a law clerk in the office of Charles Dickens? Are they full of archaic phrases and redundant ‘filler text’? Did the author create them by cutting and pasting from some crusty old text? For a candid appraisal of the disfunction in contract drafting, look up Ken Adams.

 

Is every deal a new adventure, or have you got a slick process for getting stuff done?

You want your customers to feel like you know your business, right? You want to look organised, consistent, and ready to deliver. Why, then, would you have a contract process that never flows the same way on any two deals and, worse, depends on the organising skills of an overworked contracts team? If you’re consistent and slick, it makes it easier for stakeholders to work with you.

Consistent and slick doesn’t mean inflexible and limited. Leave space for humans to do what humans do best, but give them tools to help them stay on top of the tedious tasks. Add only the controls that you need – it’s really hard to impose contracts and processes on customers unless you enjoy a monopoly in a market where customers want what you have.

Does your process recognise the reality in your customer’s world? Have you made it easy for customers to complete their procurement process? You know it’s coming, so anticipate it.

Organisations must learn from experience to make it better next time.

There will always be difficult customers who make it hard to get deals done. I’m not suggesting your contracts should appease the most unreasonable customers. But, if you regularly get the same old issues delaying deals from normal customers, it’s time to evolve.

There are at least three options to avoid history repeating itself:

  1. Keep the substance, but change the wording – do this when customers think you are imposing something worse than what you intend (usually because a lawyer tries too hard to be ‘watertight’).

     

  2. Remove the problem contract text if you can, or if it’s plainly unreasonable. You’ve been found out – deal with it.

     

  3. Do a better job of setting expectations upfront – so the problem doesn’t come as a surprise when it appears in a contract. For example, if you want payment in advance, get the sales team to make that clear in proposals and quotes.

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