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How to Set Up an Efficient Contract Approval Process (Template & Examples)

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You operate a service-based business and spend countless hours chasing down contracts for signatures. The process takes forever and leaves you feeling frustrated. However, the right field service management software can streamline your contract approval workflow. In this article, you’ll discover how to set up an efficient contract approval process tailored for service businesses like yours. Follow step-by-step guidance to customize templates, integrate e-signature solutions, automate notifications, ensure compliance, and track status. See a sample contract approval template and a real-world example from a software user. Implementing these best practices can enhance contract management, save time, reduce errors, and boost efficiency. Take control of your contract approvals now.

Need for Upgrading Contract Management Process

Efficient contract management is essential to your operations and growth as a service-based business. Manual and disorganized contract approval processes slow down things,, reduce productivity, and increase the risk of errors. Making contract approvals easier in your field service management software is a real win. It saves time, ensures compliance, and improves the customer experience. Plus, you’ll gain valuable insights for your business.

By automating and simplifying the steps involved, you can:

  • Reduce the administrative burden on your team. Automated reminders and notifications eliminate the need to chase down signatures and approvals.
  • Speed up turnaround times. E-signatures and predefined approval chains accelerate the signing process.
  • Minimize rework. Compliance checks and approvals at each stage reduce the likelihood of contracts needing correction or amendment.
  • Gain a holistic view. Robust reporting and analytics provide visibility into your contract approval performance, enabling data-driven improvements.
  • Deliver a professional experience. A structured and efficient process conveys your competence and expertise to customers.

Understanding the contract management and its process

Contract management is essential for any service-based business. It involves overseeing the entire lifecycle of contracts, from creation through approval, execution, and renewal or termination. An efficient contract approval process streamlines the steps required to review, negotiate, and approve contracts before they become legally binding.

As a service provider, implementing a contract approval workflow in your field service management software offers many benefits. It allows multiple stakeholders to collaborate on contracts, provides an audit trail for compliance, reduces manual errors, and shortens turnaround times.

Establishing review and approval levels

Map out the review and approval levels required for different contract types. For example, low-value contracts may only need manager approval, while high-value contracts need executive sign-off. Configure your field service management software to route contracts to the appropriate stakeholders automatically based on the value thresholds you set.

Streamlining communication

Enable real-time discussions, comments, and notifications in your software so stakeholders can collaborate efficiently on contracts. Set up automated email reminders for pending reviews and approvals to keep the process moving. This integrated approach fosters effective communication and streamlines the contract process, ultimately contributing to improved productivity and responsiveness within your organization.

Ensuring compliance and security

Include e-signature capabilities, document versioning, and an audit trail of all actions taken. Control which users can access, review, approve, and sign contracts based on their permissions. By following these best practices, you can implement an effective contract approval process tailored to your business needs. The result is faster turnaround, fewer errors, enhanced compliance, and a better customer experience.

Identifying key stakeholders

To establish an efficient contract approval process, you need to determine the key stakeholders involved. Stakeholders are the individuals who participate in reviewing, approving, and signing off on contracts. They typically include:

Contract administrators: Responsible for creating contract templates, handling the approval workflow, and ensuring contract compliance. They facilitate communication between stakeholders throughout the process.

  • Legal team: Reviews contracts to verify they meet legal requirements and mitigate risk. Ensures contract terms align with regulations and company policies.
  • Department heads: Review and approve contracts that pertain to their department. They evaluate how the contract impacts their team and budget.
  • C-level executives: Provide final approval for high-value, long-term, or high-risk contracts. Their sign-off ensures contracts support key business objectives.
  • Customers: Review, negotiate, and e-sign contracts when using an e-signature solution integrated with your field service management software.

Once you identify the stakeholders, determine their level of involvement and specific responsibilities in the approval process. Establish a hierarchy to clarify the order of approvals and who has the authority to approve at each stage. Define timelines for stakeholders to review and approve to keep the workflow smooth.

Provide stakeholders access to contract records, status updates, reminders, and notifications within your field service management software. This level of visibility and automation streamlines communication reduces confusion, and ensures no contract gets overlooked. With clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and timeframes in place, your key stakeholders can work collaboratively to approve contracts efficiently. An organized, transparent approval process gives stakeholders confidence that all contracts meet company standards before moving forward.

Automate Contract Renewals With Advanced Contract Management

Customizing contract workflows

To streamline your contract approval process, you need to customize the contract management workflow .This allows you to set up the exact steps and stages required for your business. For example, you may want separate approval stages for legal review, accounting sign-off, and final executive approval before the contract is considered fully approved.

Some key things to consider when customizing your contract workflow include:

Defining approval stages

Determine the necessary stops the contract needs to make, who needs to review and approve at each stage, and the order of approvals. Make sure to account for different types of contracts that may require different approval paths.

Setting reminder notifications

Enable automated email reminders to be sent to the appropriate approvers at each stage so contracts do not get held up or forgotten. You can customize the frequency and content of the reminders.

Specifying approval criteria

Provide clear guidance on what constitutes approval at each stage. For example, legal approval may require verifying that specific terms and conditions are included, while executive approval may focus more on strategic fit and revenue potential.

Tracking approval status

Your field service management software should allow you to view the real-time status of each contract in the approval workflow so you know exactly where it is in the process at any given time. This transparency helps minimize confusion and prevents contracts from falling through the cracks.

Revising and re-approving

Enable contracts to be easily sent back to a previous approver if changes are requested. The software should track each version of the contract and maintain an audit trail of all changes made during the approval cycle.

Customize your contract workflows to align with your unique business requirements and approval processes,

Integrated e-signature solutions

Integrate an electronic signature (e-signature) solution to streamline your contract approval process. E-signatures allow contracts to be signed digitally, eliminating the need for physical signatures and ensuring a fully automated workflow. With an e-signature integration, approvers and signatories can electronically sign contracts directly in the software interface on any device. E-signatures are legally valid and help speed up the signing process. Some popular e-signature solutions you can connect to your field service management software include:

To set up e-signature integration, follow these steps:

  1. Select an e-signature provider and create an account.
  2. Obtain API credentials from the e-signature solution to enable the integration.
  3. Configure the integration in your field service management software by entering the API credentials.
  4. Map e-signature fields to corresponding contract fields in the software.
  5. Test the integration to ensure e-signatures are captured accurately before rolling it out.

With e-signatures in place, approvers can sign contracts with a click, and signatories receive an email notification to sign the final contract electronically. E-signature audit trails provide a full record of all signatures for compliance and security. By removing manual signing from the equation, you can cut approval times in half and boost productivity across your team. E-signatures are a must for any modern contract approval process.

Streamlined approvals

To streamline communication during the contract approval process, leverage the collaboration features of your field service management software. Set up automated email notifications to keep all stakeholders informed at each stage of the approval workflow. For example, configure the system to send an email alert to reviewers and approvers when a new contract is submitted for approval. Include details like the contract name, customer information, dollar amount, and a link to review and approve the document.

Similarly, enables the software to automatically notify the contract owner, account manager, and other relevant parties once the contract has been fully approved. This helps ensure all teams have visibility into approved contracts so they can begin delivering services. Some field service management solutions also offer an in-app messaging system that allows contract stakeholders to communicate directly, ask questions, and clarify any details about the agreement.

For more complex contract approval processes that involve multiple departments, using a field service management solution with e-signature capabilities is key to keeping everyone on the same page. As different teams review, revise, and approve the contract, their changes and signatures are captured in a central digital document that provides an audit trail of the approval workflow. This ‘single source of truth’ avoids the confusion that can result from circulating multiple versions of the contract via email.

With automated notifications and in-app messaging, contract stakeholders receive updates and prompts in real-time to keep the review and approval process moving efficiently. Be sure to configure any alerts to include relevant details about the contract so recipients have the proper context to take the appropriate next steps. Streamlining communication in these ways helps reduce delays, minimizes the risk of a contract getting lost in someone’s inbox, and provides transparency into the approval workflow for all parties involved.

Automated reminders and notifications

Field service management software enables you to automatically send reminders and notifications to the relevant stakeholders at each stage of the contract approval process. Rather than having to keep track of and follow up on contract approvals manually, the software can automatically trigger notifications based on your predefined rules and schedules.

For example, you can configure the system to:

  • Send email reminders to contract approvers three days before a contract is due for approval. This gives the approvers sufficient notice to review and approve the contract on time.
  • Notify the contract owner as soon as a contract has been approved so they are aware of the approval and can take the next steps.
  • Alert reviewers if a contract has been pending approval for more than five business days. This helps prevent contracts from getting stuck in the approval queue.
  • Send a notification to the legal team if any changes are made to a contract template. This ensures your legal team is kept in the loop regarding contract terms and conditions updates.

With the automation capabilities of your field service management software, you can streamline communication, reduce the burden of manual follow-ups, and ensure key milestones or pending actions do not slip through the cracks. Automated reminders and alerts give you greater visibility and control over your contract approval processes, allowing you to manage approvals more efficiently at scale. Configuring rules and notifications may require initial setup time but will save you countless hours in the long run. Automation is key to optimizing your contract approval workflow and keeping all stakeholders on the same page.

Ensure compliance and security

Implement strict controls over contract data access and storage to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain data security. Only authorized personnel should have the ability to view, edit, approve, and sign contracts. Use role-based permissions to limit data access.

For example, assign specific contract approval rights to managers, executives, legal teams, and accountants based on their job functions. This prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive contract information. Store all digital contracts and related documents in a centralized repository with robust security measures. Enable audit trails to log all user activity, including views, edits, approvals, and signatures. Audit trails allow you to monitor compliance, detect unauthorized changes, and prevent data tampering.

When setting up your contract approval process, consider the following:

  • Requiring two-factor authentication for users to access the contract repository and approval workflows. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security for user logins.
  • Using encrypted storage and data transmission to prevent unauthorized access and protect contracts containing sensitive information.
  • Backing up all contract data daily in case of system failures or data loss. Backups also provide an archive of historical contracts and revisions.
  • Providing contractual stakeholders with their own unique login credentials to access the system. Do not share generic logins across multiple users.
  • Disabling user accounts immediately when personnel leave the organization. Deactivated accounts should no longer have any system access.

Robust controls and monitoring give you confidence in the accuracy and safety of your digital contracts. Regular reviews of user roles, permissions, storage, access logs, and backups help ensure your system and data remain secure over time.

Tracking and reporting

To effectively monitor the contract approval process, you’ll want to track key details and generate reports on approval status. set up custom fields in your software to capture information like:

  • Contract ID or number
  • Contract type
  • Customer name
  • Approval stage
  • Approver names and comments

As contracts proceed through the approval workflow, these details are updated automatically. You can then generate reports to view:

  • The number of contracts at each approval stage
  • Average time for contracts to be approved
  • Approval rates and common reasons for rejections
  • Workloads and productivity of individual approvers

These insights help streamline the process by identifying bottlenecks, evaluating individual performance, and ensuring contracts are approved in a timely manner. You may also want to set up automatic reminders to notify approvers when contracts are pending their review.

To facilitate compliance, consider enabling an audit trail feature that logs all user actions related to contract records, including approvals. This transparently records who approved or rejected specific contracts and when. Audit trails also deter internal fraud by holding users accountable for their system access.

By diligently tracking key metrics and generating regular reports, you gain visibility into the performance and health of your contract approval process. This allows you to make data-driven decisions on optimizing workflows and better-allocating resources for maximum productivity and efficiency. Continuous monitoring and improvement will help scale your contract approval process as your business grows.

Example of a contract approval process set up

Once you have customized contract templates in your field service management software and have the necessary features activated, you can set up an efficient contract approval workflow. Here is an example of the step-by-step process:

If the Account manager who is the contract owner fills in and finalizes the contract details in the software. They then submit the contract for approval, automatically notifying the Operations manager who is the first approver that there is a pending contract awaiting their review.

The first approver logs into the software and reviews the contract details. If approved, they electronically sign the contract, and it gets routed to the Finance manager that is the next approver. If changes are required, the first approver provides feedback, and the contract goes back to the contract owner to make the necessary revisions before resubmitting it for approval.

The subsequent approvers follow the same process of reviewing, approving, and electronically signing the contract or providing feedback for revisions until the final approver signs it off. Once fully approved, the contract is officially executed. All involved parties receive a notification from the software informing them that the contract has been successfully approved and executed. The software also automatically updates the contract status to ‘approved’ and files an electronic copy of the fully executed contract for records.

The entire contract approval process is time-stamped and auditable, and reports can be generated on contract approval metrics like average approval time, pending contracts, and contract status. The streamlined electronic workflow eliminates time-consuming manual tasks, ensures compliance, and provides the contract approval lifecycle visibility.

A sample contract approval template

Start by creating a contract template in your field service management software that captures all the required information and approval stages. A good template should include:

  1. Client and Business Information
    Clearly identify both parties involved, including names, addresses, contact information, and relevant business licenses/registrations.
  2. Contract Description and Pricing
    Detail the specific services being provided, including duration, frequency, and any included packages or options. Clearly outline the corresponding pricing, payment terms, and any potential additional fees.
  3. Service Terms and Conditions
    This section defines the scope of work, performance expectations, cancellation/termination policies, and limitations of liability. It should also address factors like scheduling, communication protocols, and access requirements.
  4. Payment Terms
    Specify payment methods, due dates, late fees, and any applicable credit card processing charges.
  5. Client Signature and Agreement
    Iclude a designated space for the client’s signature, acknowledging their acceptance of the terms and conditions outlined in the contract.

Download the Sample Contract Template Here for Free

Also you can consider:

  1. Service-Specific Clauses
    Adapt the template to incorporate industry-specific regulations or service-related clauses (e.g., insurance requirements, material specifications).
  2. Clear and Concise Language
    Use easily understandable language and avoid legal jargon whenever possible.
  3. Customization
    While templates offer a starting point, tailor them to reflect your specific business practices and offerings.
  4. Legal Review
    Consider seeking legal counsel to ensure your contract adheres to relevant laws and protects your business interests.

A well-designed contract template and structured approval workflow can enhance compliance, accelerate approval, and reduce errors and omissions. Regularly review and optimize your templates and workflows to improve over time.

Final thoughts

You now have all the necessary steps and tools to set up an efficient contract approval process tailored to your service business’ unique needs. With comprehensive field service management software features and customizing contract templates, you can streamline approvals, enhance compliance, and boost operational efficiency. As you implement the recommendations, be sure to align workflows with your requirements and integrate the right solutions. With the template and example provided, you have a strong starting point. Keep optimizing as your business grows. The effort you put into your contract management will pay dividends through time savings, risk reduction, and improved customer satisfaction. Get a free version and see how you can transform the way your service operates.

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