Needs assessment Contract management
27. April 2021

Contract management – identifying needs with checklists

An unsuccessful search for a contract, missing a deadline or the discovery that employees have viewed contracts without authorisation - there are many triggers for the acquisition of contract management software. Before the purchase, however, the question is: What do we actually need?

Before introducing contract management software, analysis is needed to answer three basic questions:

  • Actual state: How does our contract management currently work and what problems occur?
  • Target state: What would we like to improve by introducing a contract management solution?
  • Organisation: Do we need to make changes to the organisation of our contract management in order to achieve the target state?


Answering the questions in detail will help you to determine your needs in a further step. The aim of the needs assessment is for you to be able to name which technical solution makes sense and which software features you cannot do without.

Checklists – food for thought for the needs assessment.
Checklists help you to determine your needs. The checklist we offer for download will give you food for thought. By working with the checklist, you do not get a concrete shopping list, but clarity about which technical possibilities exist and which of these possibilities help you to improve your contract management.

Through the checklist you clarify very basic things such as whether you prefer an on-premises or a cloud solution. Detailed questions are also clarified: Do you need interfaces to already existing systems (e.g. to ERP software or to a central user directory)? And to what extent should contract management be used at all – only by one organisational unit or along the entire value chain? This also leads to answers to the questions about user numbers and the number of contracts or the monthly increase in contracts.

These questions should be clarified before the initial contact with a provider so that you get the maximum benefit from the consultation. Well prepared, you will quickly find out whether the provider’s solution fits your requirements.

Contract Management – Checklist for Needs Assessment

You want to introduce contract management software? To get a first impression of what your needs are, this checklist will help you.

1. System scope
To estimate what the scale of the project is, the following checklist questions will help you:

  • How many contracts are there in the company that are to be administered with the system?
  • How many additional contracts will be added to the system per year?
  • Which/how many organisational units are to be integrated?
  • How many employees are to work with the system?
  • Should the system be connected to existing software/directories (e.g. interface to ERP or an internal central user directory such as Windows Active Directory)?
  • Should the system be rolled out internationally?

2. Individualisability of the system.
You have already developed processes and structures that dictate how contracts are managed at your company or you would like to introduce new processes/structures? Then it makes sense to think about whether the new contract management software should map (sub)processes or structures.

  • Do you want to map workflows (e.g. for contract approval) with the software?
  • Do you require collaboration functions (e.g. the possibility for users to ask each other questions about a contract file or to comment on notes)?
  • Should your corporate terminology be adopted in the software (e.g. the naming of contract types or organisational units)?
  • Is there an authorisation concept in the existing (analogue) contract management and should this be adopted?
  • Is a rights control necessary, which is set up depending on the organisational units?
  • Do you need technical extensions of the system? Technical extensions are e.g. additional digital files and workflows with which you organise the processes related to contracts (example: a project file in which all contracts are collected, regardless of the contract type, which were concluded for a specific project).
  • What master data and metadata should the software manage? In addition to the standard fields, should additional fields be created for specific contract types in order to individualise the master data and metadata management?
  • Do you rather need a “digital repository” with search function or is a consistent structure important (can be supported e.g. by the uniform creation of optional and mandatory fields)?
  • Do you want to determine the structure within the digital contract file (document categories) yourself?
  • Do you want to migrate legacy data and/or documents from an existing system or from Excel and directories?

3. Features
What features do you need? Are there functions you cannot do without? And what is “nice to have” but not a knock-out criterion?

  • How should deadlines be monitored? Who should be warned when deadlines expire? By which means of communication should warnings be sent (e.g. by e-mail and within the system)? What should happen if the person being warned does not react?
  • Do you need a template system to create contracts? Should the template system be linked to a clause management system?
  • Should created documents be versioned and go through an approval process?
  • Do you need an audit-proof archive?
  • What search functions do you need? Should contract documents be searchable via full text indexing?
  • Do you want to assign e-mails and attachments directly from Outlook to existing contract files?
  • Do you need a function to assign file notes and contract correspondence to the digital contract file?
  • How complex do you want your reporting to be? Are simple selection lists sufficient (e.g. number of contracts of a certain contract type from the year 2016) or should the system perform and visualise more extensive arithmetic operations (e.g. project liabilities from contracts into the future)?
  • Should the reporting results be exported (to Excel)?

4. Operation of the system

  • Is it important to you that your data resides on your company server (on-premises)
  • Can you benefit from the advantages of a cloud solution?
  • Are there any specifications in your company that restrict the possibility of using cloud computing?
  • Is a combination of software purchase and operation in the data centre interesting for you?