Contract archiving

Contracts are the foundation of business relationships. Keeping them safe and being able to refer to them easily is good practice but it can also help legal deliver real business value.

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What is contract archiving all about?

It is not uncommon for a company to generate a dozen, even a hundred, contractual documents every month. Under these conditions, it is sometimes difficult to find a contract signed several years ago.For a better contract management, the implementation of a Contract Management solution is essential today. This solution follows each cycle of a contract's life, from its creation to its archiving

Contract archiving: why is it (really) important for companies?

Finding an effective contract archiving solution is a real challenge for companies for several reasons:
- to meet the legal obligation to retain contracts
to prove the existence of a right, or a breach of an obligation, during a dispute or a claim
- or simply to search and exploit the data they contain, at any time.

The advantages of contract management automation

· Smoother, more efficient negotiations. According to a study conducted by Goldman Sachs, Contract Management Automation could speed up the negotiation phase by 50%. *

· Lower costs. According to the same study, Contract Management Automation would reduce processing costs by 30%. *

· Better control of contractual risks.

Better internal collaboration.

Contract archiving: why is it (really) important for companies?

Finding an effective contract archiving solution is a real challenge for companies for several reasons:
- to meet the legal obligation to retain contracts
to prove the existence of a right, or a breach of an obligation, during a dispute or a claim
- or simply to search and exploit the data they contain, at any time.

Archiving of contracts: what is the legal framework?

How long are contracts kept?

The archiving of contracts is a legal obligation. The mandatory retention period varies according to the type of contract.

For example, any company must keep all contractual documents concluded within the framework of a commercial relationship (transfer contract, license, franchise, sale, lease...) for 5 years. On the other hand, insurance policies must be archived for 2 years only.

This period extends to 10 years for electronic contracts whose amount is greater than 120 €, regardless of its nature. 

Attention: it is advisable to be vigilant and to respect these obligations to the letter. Any failure to do so may result in heavy fines in the event of an inspection.

What is the legal value of electronic contract archiving?

Since the law of March 13, 2000, the written document and the electronic signature have the same value as their handwritten versions. In the same way, the archiving of an electronic contract has the same legal value as the archiving on paper. 

This means that companies can use it as evidence in court in case of litigation.

Of course, digital archiving remains highly regulated in order to avoid abuses. To be compliant, it must meet strict standards and in particular guarantee three key principles: authenticity, readability and integrity of electronic documents.

Contract archiving: what solutions are available to companies today?

There are 3 main methods of archiving contracts frequently used by companies. 

Physical archiving

This means storing contracts in an office or room, in files or binders. Unfortunately, companies that do not use secure processes, such as electronic signatures, must resort to this alternative for storing their documents. It is the only alternative to keep original contracts in paper format. 

Of course, this solution has many drawbacks. First of all, there is a greater risk of loss, theft, or damage in the event of a disaster. Then, the storage of contracts can take a lot of space, and is not necessarily optimal to quickly search for information or data on a specific project. 

Archiving contracts on a computer or on a shared database

Many companies choose to archive their contracts on a computer. This solution causes friction because not all teams have access to the documents when needed. It will be necessary to use the computer on which the file is stored to access it.

To limit these inconveniences, some companies use a shared database on which they store documents. Again, this solution is not optimal. These databases are not always secure (it is often impossible to limit access, the data is not encrypted, etc.).

In both cases, it is important to keep in mind that these solutions must respect the conditions related to the authenticity, legibility and integrity of the documents. For example, a simple scan or copy of a contract has no legal value.

Archiving of contracts in an intelligent and secure contract library

The archiving of contracts in a contract library is the most efficient and secure solution to keep your documents. Most often, the contract library is the digital library that gathers all the contracts on the same platform.

Contract archiving: in concrete terms, what are the advantages of a contract library?

A space saver

No more contracts piling up in large filing cabinets. Thanks to the contract library, you can clear the clutter from your desks and shelves. Your workspace is finally calm and orderly. All documents are available online, on a single platform. 

Limiting the loss of contracts

But where did this famous contract go? It is sometimes difficult to get your hands on an important document. Disorder in the offices, damage or even burglary... There are a thousand reasons that can lead to the loss of a contract. And the consequences can sometimes be very unfortunate for companies.

With a contract library, your contracts are grouped and classified in an intelligent and secure database. A search by keyword or by filter is enough to find the document you need.

More security

Electronic storage spaces are often more reliable and secure than physical archiving. 

On the one hand, contracts are subject to strict standards that guarantee their authenticity, legibility and integrity. On the other hand, mechanisms such as data encryption reinforce the security of your information and fight against malicious online attacks (malware type). 

Before choosing your contract library, it is therefore important to check that it complies with all regulatory standards and safety principles.

Centralize information for better accessibility

The contract library centralizes all your contracts (as well as related documents, such as pre-contracts, amendments, etc.) on a single platform. For companies, it saves space, but also and above all, it saves a lot of time. Documents are accessible in a few clicks thanks to features such as advanced search, personalized views, filters...

Promote collaborative work

A good contract archiving solution gives dedicated access to the company's employees. Teams gain autonomy and can move forward on projects more quickly. 

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