Contract Approval Process Workflows, Challenges & Solutions

Contract Approval Process: Workflows, Challenges & Solutions

Let’s take a deep dive into some of the most common challenges in the contract approval phase and how you can work through these challenges with contract management software.

Before signing on the dotted line, all the parties must review and approve the legal agreement. When organizations take the traditional route, the contract approval process spread across multiple authorizers and platforms can be time-consuming. It could adversely affect onboarding vendors or customers. 

Moreover, the complexity and length of the contract approval process can vary significantly between organizations depending on the business size, the nature of the agreement, and the level of risk involved. But throughout the contract lifecycle, from contract drafting to negotiation, there are several steps organizations can take to streamline the approval workflow. Before we get into typical challenges and solutions, let's examine what contract approval entails for an organization.

Running into the Same Problems During The Contract Approval Process.


Why is it crucial to have a contract approval process?

The contract approval process refers to reviewing, authorizing, and officially approving a contract before it becomes legally binding through execution. Contract approval processes can be time-consuming and complex for growing organizations with numerous stakeholders and intricate relationships. Furthermore, the approval workflow for high-value business agreements may involve multiple stages. This complexity often leads to delays and inefficiencies as contracts progress through various levels of review and approval. The common challenges faced by businesses during the contract approval process include:

Insufficient version control

Unavoidably, changes and revisions will be made during the negotiation and review phases.  In large organizations or those with decentralized operations, it can be challenging to maintain visibility and version control throughout the contract lifecycle. Lack of version control is typical when parties make revisions by playing email tag with the document. Different departments or individuals may have varying levels of involvement, making it an uphill battle to track contract alterations and ensure everyone is always on the same page. Otherwise, there is no assurance that the legal document will be valid or that all the alterations will make it to the final stage. Therefore, organizations cannot complete the approval process without making the latest contract version accessible to all stakeholders.

Lack of standardized templates

As the quality of the contractual agreement greatly influences the duration of the review and approval process, standard contracts are still the requisite for most business relationships today. Unfortunately, organizations may find it difficult to guarantee consistency and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements without standardized contract templates and clear guidelines. They need templates outlining the standard language, the terms, conditions, rights, and obligations for specific contracts. If the contract draft is not up to par, it may need alternations during the review stage before moving on to the next step. This can lead to delays, disputes, or non-compliance issues, particularly if contracts require extensive revisions or negotiation. How Adopting a Contract Management System Can Help - Contract Webinar

Communication and collaboration issues

Effective communication and collaboration are crucial for successful contract approval. Organizations often rely on email or manual means to communicate with counterparties during the contract lifecycle. Emails are never 100% reliable – from connection problems, discrepancies in spam detection, and accidental errors. Naturally, email or third-party sites are less than stellar for communicating your concerns regarding something vital as a contract. Challenges may arise due to miscommunication, inadequate information sharing, or difficulty obtaining feedback from all relevant stakeholders. Ans they may fail to bring consistency and accuracy in the contract management lifecycle. It can result in misunderstandings, delays, and errors in the contract approval process.

Manual workflows

Many organizations still rely on manual and paper-based processes for contract lifecycle management. Businesses falling behind in embracing digital transformation and automation may face challenges streamlining the contract approval process. They will have to rely on sending emails or physical documents back and forth to review and approve a contractual agreement. This approach is prone to errors, loss of documents, and slow turnaround times. It also hampers collaboration, as physical documents must be physically routed to different stakeholders for review and approval. When multiple parties are involved in the contracting process, maintaining version control is a joke with a manual or paper-based approach.

What are the benefits of an automated contract approval process?

Now that we know, we can see how crucial but difficult the contract approval process is for businesses. The most efficient way to handle the typical approval bottlenecks is to adopt a contract management system to automate the entire contract lifecycle. 

  • Digital contact management enables organizations to create comprehensive, preapproved, and legally compliant contract templates and clause libraries to encourage a seamless approach to contract reviews and approvals. 

  • Digital contract repository ensures teams across the organization can easily access and draft agreements with the most current industry terminology and legalese.

  • As counterparty collaboration is integral to a smooth contract approval process, Dock 365 CMS provides user-friendly collaboration portals in the SharePoint repository and channels in Microsoft Teams to facilitate real-time communication. It provides long-term respite from miscommunication, duplication, and working on previous document versions. 

  • With redlining capabilities, in-text commenting, timestamping, and much more, organizations can guarantee the accuracy of the agreement to ensure a speedy approval workflow. They can also add authorizers for individual stages to guarantee the quality of the contractual agreement.

  • Dock 365 CMS allows organizations to set up authorized and role-based access for every task in the contract lifecycle. It helps to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the contract approval process. Thus, there’s transparency and accountability in the contracting process. 

  • In addition, the system triggers automatic reminders, notifications, and alerts to keep stakeholders in the loop of upcoming auto-renewal dates, milestones,  expiry dates, reviewal status, and other pertinent tasks that require timely action regarding the approval phase. Thus, businesses can develop a structured and proactive approach to the contract approval process.

Contract Lifecycle Management Using Microsoft 365 - Free contract webinar

How to set up contract approval workflows in Dock 365?

Contract approval workflows are an automated progression of contractual agreements through a sequence of authorizers. In Dock 365 contract management software, organizations can customize and maintain the workflow order during the approval process. Consequently, they can track, review, and assess the as the agreements progress through the workflow. It enables them to identify and rectify bottlenecks before they hinder progress. Generating a contract approval workflow in Dock 365 contract management system involves the following steps:

  1. Users can select the "workflow" option under a specific contract to set up an approval workflow.

  2. They can either select one of the suggested templates or start from scratch.

  3. The software offers custom fields for Flow names, Stages, Orders, Linked documents, Reviewers, and Approvers.

  4. The contract approval workflow moves from one stage to another automatically after the approval of users associated with that stage.

  5. The users can set a due date for finishing the approval workflow for timely results. On triggering a contract approval workflow, an email is sent to concerned parties notifying the progress.

The number and level of approvals can vary depending on the organization's hierarchy and approval processes. The contract may require authorization from specific individuals or positions within the organization, such as department heads, legal counsel, or executives. After all necessary approvals have been obtained, the contract is considered finalized and ready for execution. 


Adopting a contract management software solution to centralize and streamline the contract lifecycle can streamline the contract approval process. Dock 365 CMS provides features such as contract templates, version control, automated workflows, electronic signatures, and notifications to improve visibility, collaboration, and overall efficiency in managing contract approvals.

The centralized platform built on Microsoft Office 365 provides clear channels for real-time communication to ensure prompt feedback and alignment. A seamless contract approval process also encourages stakeholders to provide input in a timely manner to avoid delays.

Schedule a free demo with us today for an in-depth and interactive overview of our Contract Management System.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not intended to be legal advice; rather, all information, content, and resources accessible through this site are for purely educational purposes. This page's content might not be up to date with legal or other information.
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Written by Deepti Gopimohan

As a creative content writer, Deepti has spent years assisting brands to share their unique voice with audiences, complying with the latest marketing trends and strategies. Her educational background in Literature & Journalism has helped her research and publish content for diverse industries & mediums.
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Reviewed by Naveen K P

Naveen, a seasoned content reviewer with 9+ years in software technical writing, excels in evaluating content for accuracy and clarity. With expertise in SaaS, cybersecurity, AI, and cloud computing, he ensures adherence to brand standards while simplifying complex concepts.

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