As the name implies, contract management is primarily about managing your contracts: knowing what they are and where they are; and making sure you don’t miss important performance milestones and renewal dates. These are all good things, but they don't really make you a high performance contracting organization. To truly claim "high performance" status, you need to do more than just manage contracts.
You need to transform your contracting process, so that contracts are created more quickly and with optimal terms and conditions – a more intelligent process. And you need to take contract analysis to a deeper level, so that everyone negotiating, approving, and performing contracts has insight into the data needed to maximize contract value and minimize contract risk – more intelligence about your contract assets.
At Exari, we use the term “intelligent contract management” to differentiate systems that do all of these things from systems that don’t. What makes these systems better than "old school" contract management is that they add substantial value at both ends of the contract lifecycle. At the beginning, an intelligent, guided drafting process helps to shorten deal cycles, liberates experts from the doldrums of standardized agreements, and allows those experts to focus on complex, high-value negotiations and advice. At the end of the process, deeper analytics across contract terms helps to identify and eliminate significant risks, and to continually refine and improve the value of your contract portfolio.
But most importantly, intelligent contract management creates a positive feedback loop in your contracting process. Automated drafting feeds better quality documentation and data into the system, which makes the analytics more informative and powerful, and which in turn feeds back into refinements to your drafting and negotiation rules. It’s this feedback loop that delivers the high performance that most contract teams are striving for.
Of course, there is value in combining contract management and analytics (without automated document assembly). And there is value in combining document assembly with contract management (without contract analytics). But these partial solutions will not create a feedback loop, and their impact will be less.
We realize that many people will still call everything "contract management". And that's fine. But if your goal is to transform the way you do things across the full contract lifecycle, including automated contract creation, automated rights and obligation management, and in-depth contract analytics, then the term "intelligent contract management" better conveys those wider ambitions (and avoids the perception that all you're doing is "boring old contract management").