Best Practices in Contract Auditing

Best Practices in Contract Auditing

Written By
Joy Cunanan
Updated on
March 13, 2024
Reading time:

Contract auditing is a critical process for businesses to ensure compliance, mitigate risks, and maximise the value of their agreements. By carefully reviewing contracts, organisations can identify potential issues, optimise terms, and improve overall contract management practices. In this article, we'll explore some of the best practices in contract auditing to help businesses streamline their processes and achieve better outcomes.

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What is Contract Auditing?

Contract auditing is a systematic examination and evaluation of contracts to ensure compliance with terms and conditions, legal and regulatory requirements, and organisational policies. The primary objectives of contract auditing are to:

  1. Verify that all parties are meeting their contractual obligations.
  2. Identify any deviations from agreed-upon terms and conditions.
  3. Assess the performance of contracts against predefined metrics.
  4. Ensure compliance with legal, regulatory, and internal requirements.
  5. Identify opportunities for improving contract terms and conditions.
  6. Mitigate risks associated with contracts, such as financial, operational, and reputational risks.

Contract auditing involves reviewing contract documents, analysing data related to contract performance, conducting interviews with relevant stakeholders, and documenting findings and recommendations. The goal is to ensure that contracts are being effectively managed, risks are being mitigated, and the organisation is maximising the value of its agreements.

What are Common Challenges Involved in Contract Auditing?

Contract auditing can be a complex process, and there are several common challenges that organisations may face:

Incomplete or Inaccurate Documentation

Contracts may be missing key information or contain errors, making it difficult to assess compliance and performance accurately.

Contract Complexity

Some contracts may be highly complex, with numerous terms and conditions that are challenging to interpret and evaluate.

Limited Resources

Organisations may have limited resources, such as time, budget, and personnel, to dedicate to contract auditing, leading to incomplete or superficial audits.

Lack of Standardisation

Without standardised processes and criteria for auditing contracts, there may be inconsistency in how audits are conducted and evaluated.

Poor Contract Management Practices

Inadequate contract management practices, such as incomplete record-keeping or lack of contract visibility, can hinder effective contract auditing.

Changing Regulatory Landscape

Legal and regulatory requirements related to contracts may change, requiring organisations to update their auditing processes accordingly.

Vendor Non-Compliance

Vendors or partners may not comply with contractual obligations, leading to disputes and challenges in contract auditing.

Data Management Challenges

Managing and analysing large amounts of contract data can be challenging, especially without the right tools and systems in place.

What are the Best Practices in Contract Auditing?

Establish Clear Objectives

Defining clear objectives for the audit is crucial to ensure that the audit is focused and effective. Objectives should include the scope of the audit, such as which contracts will be reviewed, the specific areas of focus (e.g., compliance, performance, financial terms), and the desired outcomes (e.g., identifying risks, improving contract terms).

Develop a Comprehensive Checklist

A comprehensive checklist helps auditors stay organised and ensures that all key areas of the contract are reviewed. The checklist should include items such as contract terms and conditions, pricing and payment terms, compliance requirements, performance metrics, and any other relevant details. It should be tailored to the specific objectives and scope of the audit.

Use Technology to Streamline the Process

Contract management platform can automate many aspects of the audit process, making it more efficient and less prone to errors. This includes automating contract retrieval, data extraction, analysis, and reporting. By using technology, auditors can save time and focus on more strategic aspects of the audit.

Review Contract Performance Metrics

Performance metrics outlined in the contract should be reviewed to ensure that they are being met. This may include deadlines, quality standards, and other key performance indicators. Any deviations from the agreed-upon metrics should be identified and addressed.

Verify Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Contracts should comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements. This includes laws related to data protection, intellectual property, consumer rights, and other areas. Auditors should verify compliance and identify any areas where improvements are needed.

Identify Opportunities for Improvement

The audit process should not only identify issues but also opportunities for improving contract terms and conditions. This may include negotiating better pricing, updating outdated clauses, or renegotiating contracts with underperforming vendors. By identifying and implementing improvements, organisations can maximise the value of their agreements.

Document Findings and Recommendations

All findings and recommendations from the audit should be documented. This includes issues identified, proposed solutions or actions to address them, and any other relevant details. Documentation helps track progress over time and ensures that all necessary steps are taken to address issues identified during the audit.

Ensure Adequate Training and Expertise

Auditors should have the necessary training and expertise to effectively audit contracts. This includes understanding contract law, industry regulations, and best practices in contract management. Regular training and professional development can help auditors stay updated on relevant trends and changes in the field.

Maintain Clear Communication

Effective communication is essential throughout the audit process. This includes communicating audit objectives, findings, and recommendations to relevant stakeholders, such as contract managers, legal teams, and senior management. Clear communication helps ensure that everyone is aligned and that actions are taken to address audit findings.

Conduct Regular Audits

Regular audits help ensure that contracts are being effectively managed and that any issues are identified and addressed promptly. The frequency of audits will depend on factors such as the complexity of contracts, the level of risk, and organisational priorities. Regular audits can help prevent problems from escalating and improve overall contract management practices.

Use Data Analytics

Data analytics can be used to analyse large volumes of contract data and identify trends, patterns, and anomalies. This can help auditors identify areas of concern more efficiently and make data-driven decisions. Data analytics can also help improve the overall effectiveness of contract auditing processes.

Establish a Continuous Improvement Process

Contract auditing should be viewed as a continuous improvement process. Organisations should regularly review and update their audit processes and procedures based on lessons learned and feedback from audits. This helps ensure that the audit process remains effective and aligned with organisational goals and objectives.

Consider External Audits

In some cases, organisations may benefit from external audits conducted by third-party auditors. External audits can provide an independent assessment of contract management practices and help identify areas for improvement. External auditors can also bring specialised expertise and experience to the audit process.

Monitor and Track Audit Findings

It's important to monitor and track audit findings to ensure that corrective actions are taken. This may include implementing changes to contract terms and conditions, updating contract management practices, or addressing compliance issues. Monitoring and tracking audit findings help ensure that improvements are implemented and that the audit process remains effective over time.

Make Contract Auditing a Breeze with Lexagle. 

A contract management platform can help address the common difficulties associated with contract auditing. Here are a few features that directly tackle them: 

Centralised Contract Repository

A contract management platform provides a centralised repository for all contracts, making it easy to access and review contract documents during audits. This helps ensure that auditors have access to the most up-to-date information and can easily track changes and revisions.

Automated Alerts and Notifications

A contract management platform can automate alerts and notifications for key contract dates and milestones, such as renewal dates, compliance deadlines, and performance reviews. This helps auditors stay on top of important events and ensures that contracts are being managed effectively.

Customisable Reporting

A contract management platform allows for customisable reporting, enabling auditors to generate detailed reports on contract performance, compliance, and other key metrics. These reports can help identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement, facilitating more effective audits.

Audit Trails

A contract management platform maintains detailed audit trails of all changes made to contracts, including who made the changes and when. This provides transparency and accountability, helping auditors track the history of contract modifications and ensure that changes are made in accordance with established processes.

Integration with Other Systems

A contract management platform can integrate with other systems, such as ERP and CRM systems, to provide a seamless flow of information across the organisation. This integration can help auditors access relevant data from other systems, improving the accuracy and completeness of audits.

Compliance Management Tools

A contract management platform often includes compliance management tools that help ensure contracts comply with legal and regulatory requirements. These tools can automate compliance checks, flag potential issues, and provide guidance on how to address compliance concerns.

Risk Management Features

A contract management platform may include risk management features that help identify and mitigate risks associated with contracts. This can include assessing risks related to contract performance, financial terms, and compliance, and helping auditors prioritise their audit efforts.

Enhanced Security

A contract management platform offers enhanced security features, such as role-based access controls and encryption, to protect sensitive contract information. This helps ensure that only authorised users have access to confidential contract data, enhancing security during audits.

From centralized contract repositories to customizable reporting and compliance management tools, a contract management platform can streamline the auditing process, improve compliance, and enhance overall contract performance. Discover all these and more by booking a demo with Lexagle today. 

Best Practices in Contract Auditing
Joy Cunanan
Joy is the Digital Transformation Manager at Lexagle. As a marketing professional in the Tech and B2B industry for over seven years, she is always on the lookout for the next best solution in the ever-changing online world. With a passion for helping businesses thrive and optimize operations, she shares her expertise in the power of contract lifecycle management and its capacity of easing the contracting process for busy organizations worldwide.

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