Open Source Contract Management Software: An Essential Guide

Octavia Drexler
Octavia Drexler
Published: 20.09.2022

Long gone are the days of spending countless hours sifting through physical folders and contracts. Technology makes everything easier these days; for example, open-source contract management software can save you time, energy, and money. Why, more exactly, should anyone consider open source contract management software – and what are some of the essential features to look for? In this article, we take a deeper look at contract management tools you can use for free – so read on to find out more.

A person is walking through a warehouse full with boxes of contracts.

What Is A Contract Management Software?

Contract management software is software that can help you manage all of your company’s contracts, from the moment they are created to the moment they are canceled. This type of software is usually very administrative in nature, and although it might not sound like it’s something super-fancy, it’s the type of software virtually any organization dealing with contracts can benefit from using.


It is important to note that contract management software is sometimes mistaken for customer relationship management (CRM) software. The two are very similar in the sense that they both help companies manage their customers. However, CRM is usually focused on building, managing, and maintaining relationships with customers, whereas contract management software is focused on optimizing these relationships so they’re more effective for both parties (you and your customers).


In a more traditional scenario, contract management can be handled in a spreadsheet. However, modern needs revolve around complex customer relationships and lifecycles – and thus, contracts are becoming increasingly more sophisticated too.


Contract management software (sometimes called “contract lifecycle management” or CLM) will usually give you:


  • The ability to securely track and manage all of your company’s contracts in a centralized repository
  • The ability to automate and streamline contract processes, from creation to signature to expiration
  • Integrated tools for negotiating and redlining contracts
  • The ability to generate reports on contract activity, performance, and value
  • Advanced search capabilities so you can better manage your data

...and more.


Furthermore, CLM software tends to be used across multiple departments, including, but not limited to:


  • Procurement
  • Legal
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Sales

Therefore, it will also be able to connect inter-departmental efforts (such as hiring a new employee, which should be handled by HR, Legal, and Finance departments alike, for example.)


Contract management software is not always a dedicated tool in a lot of companies. For instance, some may use SharePoint as their designated tool for contract management, which can work well for organizations with straightforward contract sharing and collaboration needs.


However, for businesses that need something a bit more sophisticated, there are plenty of contract management software tools available on the market. Even more so, there are quite a lot of open source contract management tool options available as well.

Advantages of Using Contact Management Software

Before we dive into open-source contract management software options, let's first discuss why you should even consider such a tool. Here are some of the most commonly touted advantages of working with a CLM for your business:

Better Organization

The first and most obvious advantage of using contract management software is that it can help you better organize all of your company’s contracts. This is extremely important for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important one is that it makes it much easier to find specific contracts when you need them.


For example, if you need to pull up a specific contract so you can reference it, you will be able to do so quickly and easily if all of your contracts are stored in one central location. This is in contrast to having to search through piles of paper or different folders on your computer, which can take quite a bit of time – time that could be better spent on other tasks.

Keeping Track

A contract management tool can help you do what so many of us forget to do: cancel subscriptions or contracts when we don't need them anymore (or when a free trial has expired). Applied long-term to large businesses, the financial impact of this could be significant.


Contract management software can also help you keep track of all of your company’s contracts so you always know which ones are coming up for renewal and which ones need to be renegotiated. This can save you a lot of time, effort, and money.

Easier to Understand

Another advantage of using contract management software is that it can make contracts easier to understand. This is important because, as we all know, contracts can be quite complex and confusing. However, if you have a tool that can help you manage and keep track of your contracts, you will be able to understand them much better.


This is extremely important because, if you do not understand your contracts, you could end up making mistakes that could cost you a lot of money.

Faster Execution

Finally, contract management software can help you execute your contracts faster. This is because the software can automate many of the tasks associated with contract management, such as sending out reminders, creating reports, and so on.


As a result, you will be able to get your contracts executed faster, which can save you a lot of time and money. Plus, it can also help you reduce human error (which as we all know, can be quite costly.)

Better Inter-departmental Collaboration

As mentioned before, contract management software can also improve inter-department communication and collaboration. When all contracts are managed from a single point of reference, it’s easier for people in different departments to collaborate seamlessly.


A room in which an inter-departmental collaboration is depicted through two workmates high-fiving each other.

How to Choose an Open Source Contract Management Software

An open-source contract management software will allow you to not only save on costs but will also provide you with features. But with so many options available, how do you choose the best one for your needs?


Here are some factors you should consider when choosing an open source contract management software:

Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the first criteria to consider when choosing an open source. After all, you will want software that can be customized to your company’s specific needs and requirements. A team of engineers can help you adapt your open-source software to your specific use cases, so you can make the most out of this tool.

Ease of Use

You will want a contract management software that is easy to use so that you and your team can get the hang of it quickly and start using it right away. Anything too complex might require extensive training and it might lead to interruptions in your usual workflow.

Integration

Another important factor to consider is integration. You will want to make sure that the contract management software you choose can be easily integrated with other software programs that your company uses. This will make it much easier for you to manage all of your company’s contracts in one central location.

Collaboration and Workflows

Finally, you will want to make sure that the contract management software you choose allows for collaboration. This is important because, as we mentioned above, collaboration is key when it comes to contract management.

Security

You will want to make sure that the contract management software you choose is secure. This is important because you will be storing a lot of sensitive information in the software.

E-signature

Another important criterion is the ability to add e-signatures to your contracts. After all, you will want a contract management software that allows for electronic signatures so that you can get your contracts signed quickly and easily. This is especially important in the remote and global environment most businesses work in these days.

Contract Lifecycle Management

Not all open source contract management software can handle contract lifecycle, so it's important to pay attention to this feature as well.

White Labeling

If you want to brand the software with your company’s name and logo, then you will want to make sure that the contract management software you choose offers white labeling.


Although these are not the only criteria to consider when buying an open-source contract management software, they are certainly some of the most important. There's no universally perfect solution, so make a list of the features your organization needs, and search for the open source management software that will come closest to your definition of "ideal". Here are some open-source contract management reviews to help you sift through the ocean of options out there.


FAQs:

Q1: Can SharePoint be used for contract management?

Yes, SharePoint can be used for contract management. However, it is important to keep in mind that SharePoint is not a dedicated contract management software. This means that it might not have all of the features you need to manage your contracts effectively.

Q2: Is CLM free?

Some CLM (contract lifecycle management) options are free (open-source). But many times the term "free" only refers to the software itself and not the add-ons, support, or other services that come with it. It's important to read the fine print carefully before you commit to any free software solution so that you know exactly what you're getting.

Q3: Is Salesforce a contract management tool?

Salesforce does provide a contract management tool. However, it is generally considered to be a very costly solution for small to medium enterprises, especially if they don't use Salesforce for other purposes as well.


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