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The Evolving Role of the Contract Manager

Traditionally, the responsibilities of a contract manager centered around managing a mix of physical stacks of paper, scanned documents, and email accounts. However, with the escalating complexity of business contracts, there’s a noticeable shift towards a more digital approach to the role.

Understanding the reasons behind this trend and anticipating the future trajectory for contract managers requires a closer examination of the current state of their role and how digital solutions can enhance their overall work experience.

What does a contract manager do?

The contract manager serves as the individual tasked with guiding contracts through the entire lifecycle. Regarded as the primary contact for both internal and external stakeholders regarding all matters related to the contract and its processes, the contract manager plays a central role.

At its core, the primary goal of this role is the expedient advancement of contracts from their creation to the crucial approval stage. This progression, commonly referred to as the contract lifecycle, comprises five fundamental elements.


Internal stakeholders share key details for the contract, and the contract manager constructs a draft based on these specifications. If revisions are necessary, the contract manager will create new language to incorporate into the contract.

Facilitating collaboration and negotiation

While representatives from the pertinent business units manage the substantive aspects of negotiations, the contract manager guides securing the most favourable deal. Additionally, they may directly interact with the other party during the negotiation process.

Collecting signatures

For many contracts, obtaining signatures is a multi-step process involving individuals both within and outside the organization. The contract manager oversees the routing of the contract to the appropriate individuals for signatures, often adhering to a specific order in the signature collection process.


Once the contract is signed, the contract manager is tasked with securely storing the document.


Numerous circumstances may necessitate accessing a signed contract, including monitoring obligations, verifying language in case of disputes, or updating specific terms without drafting a new contract. Ensuring each contract is readily accessible and easy to locate falls under the responsibility of the contract manager.

For many years, these tasks had to be carried out manually, relying on inefficient and unreliable paper-based contract management methods. Such outdated processes can prolong the time required for the creation and signing of contracts and may introduce potentially costly errors.

Key Skills for Successful Contract Managers

Effectively managing the contracting process demands a set of crucial skills. Proficiency in the following areas is imperative for any successful contract manager.

Legal Knowledge

A comprehensive understanding of contract law and relevant regulations is indispensable. Contract managers must ensure that contracts align with legal requirements and safeguard the organisation’s interests.

Negotiation Skills

Proficiency in negotiation is crucial. Contract managers negotiate terms and conditions with internal and external stakeholders to secure agreements that are advantageous for the organisation.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is vital for clarifying contract terms, addressing concerns, and fostering positive relationships with all parties involved. Both written and verbal communication skills are imperative.

Attention to Detail

Given the complexity of contracts, meticulous attention to detail is essential. Contract managers need to be thorough and detail-oriented when reviewing and drafting contracts.


Analysing contract terms, identifying risks, and proposing improvements are vital skills. Contract managers should assess the potential impact of various clauses.

Organisational Skills

Contract managers often handle multiple contracts simultaneously. Strong organisational skills are critical to meeting deadlines and ensuring proper storage and accessibility of documents.

Technology Proficiency

In the digital era, contract managers should be adept at using contract management software, electronic signatures, and document management systems to streamline the contract lifecycle.

Risk Management

Recognising and mitigating risks within contracts is essential. Contract managers should skillfully assess potential risks throughout the negotiation process.

Stakeholder Management

Building and maintaining relationships with internal and external stakeholders are vital. Effective collaboration and expectation management are key aspects of stakeholder engagement.

Ethical Conduct

Maintaining high ethical standards is paramount in contract management, given the involvement of sensitive and confidential information in contracts.

The digital contract manager

Traditionally, the contract manager’s role involved executing processes like drafting, negotiating, and obtaining signatures. Despite requiring extensive legal knowledge, tasks such as chasing signatures and searching for old contracts often involve low-value work for highly skilled professionals.

The good news for modern contract managers is the increasing automation available, streamlining routine tasks and allowing them to focus on more strategic aspects of their role.

Digital Contracts:

Facilitating real-time collaboration and communication among all parties, digital contracts sustain ongoing conversations and often expedite agreeable results more efficiently than asynchronous negotiations.

Electronic Signatures:

Streamlining the signing process, electronic signatures simplify each signer’s task. Instead of signing multiple copies of a physical contract, electronic signatures require each line to be signed only once. Agreements are automatically routed to the next signer, providing visibility into the signing queue and status.

Digital Storage and Intelligent Search:

Eliminating concerns about document location and retrieval, digital storage and intelligent search ensure seamless access. With all documents centrally stored digitally, there’s no need to navigate through numerous folders and drives to locate the desired contract.

How DocuSign can help contract managers

By freeing the contract manager from the intricacies of each step in the contract process, more time becomes available for strategic and higher-value tasks. DocuSign provides a suite of tools designed to streamline the tedious aspects of a contract manager’s responsibilities.

DocuSign eSignature:

Securely send and sign contracts from virtually anywhere, accompanied by a robust audit trail. Benefit from the industry’s leading e-signature solution.

DocuSign CLM:

Centralise your contracts, standardize agreement processes, and eliminate unnecessary tasks. Streamline your contract management with DocuSign CLM.

DocuSign Integrations:

Enhance process automation by integrating DocuSign tools with a variety of business applications such as Zoom, Salesforce, and SAP. Maximize the power of your contract management workflows.

Contract Analytics:

Leverage AI-driven contract analytics to transform raw data into actionable insights. Analyze details efficiently and enhance strategic decision-making for smarter strategies and better

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