Our contract management software picks for 2022

By: DAN KENITZ | Fact Checked By: JAMIE OSTROE | Updated: September 26, 2022

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You don’t want to get contract management software wrong. Contracts are like the lifeblood of your business—one misstep and you forgot where you stored some of the most critical information possible. But choose effective contract management software and your life will be easier. You’ll be able to store contracts with ease. You’ll be able to search through a database of old files rather than rifle through papers. You’ll be able to automatically send copies to all relevant parties—no extra work required on your part.


Our Top Picks

  1. ContractSafe – Best for Fast & Easy Implementation
  2. PandaDoc – Best for Sales Teams
  3. DocuSign CLM – Best for High-Volume Organizations
  4. LinkSquares – Best for Large Enterprises and Legal Firms
  5. Bonsai – Best for Freelancers
  6. Ironclad – Best for Digital Security

Contract Management Software Reviews

Our top six picks for the best contract management software are based on the features they offer, pricing transparency, customer support and brand reputation. We spent hours researching and comparing companies to help you choose the vendor that’s best for your business. Read more about our methodology process.

Need help choosing? Answer a few questions and we’ll recommend a match.

contractsafe logo

ContractSafe – Fast & Easy Implementation

ContractSafe a has robust list of features that set the standard for what contract management can offer. If you want to clear your HR or sales departments of the contract management headaches they’ve been suffering, a solution like this can step in with enough storage, security, and features to handle the logistics of contract management. Pricing for their “basic” plans starts at $299/month.

Pros
  • Automated date reminders
  • Amendment tracking and audit trails make it easy to see who’s been working on what
  • Affordable and easy to use
Cons
  • Limited contract generation tools
  • Optimal for 50 contracts or more

ContractSafe features

  • Unlimited users; with no limits to how many contracts you can manage
  • DocuSign integration means it “plays well” with other software
  • Real-time audit trail for contract management, available with the lowest pricing tier on up
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) makes all contracts searchable
  • Easy routing for approvals and e-signing
  • Unlimited automated reminders and notifications

What markets does ContractSafe serve?

A wide variety, but not ideal for managing fewer than 50 contracts. One of the keys here is the “unlimited users” feature at all pricing tiers—meaning you can have a small or large organization managing contracts in no time.

Read our full ContractSafe Review.

PandaDoc – Best for Sales Teams

PandaDoc won an APPEALIE award in 2020 for the best overall SaaS, which is partially thanks to its intuitive navigation and robust features—even before it charges you a cent. PandaDoc is known for focusing on the sales process and allowing users to easily convert sales proposals into contracts.

Pros
  • Create unlimited free eSignatures with PandaDoc’s features
  • Unlimited uploads
  • Easy navigation and UI for people who are new to contract management
  • Native DocuSign integration
Cons
  • A little clunky for large groups
  • Not a fit for enterprise-level companies and huge HR departments

PandaDoc features

  • Unlock unlimited signatures and contracts simply by signing up for a free account
  • API integrations only available with higher pricing tiers
  • Audit trail only unlocked under the paid Essentials plan
  • Mobile application available
  • Create customized templates—available under the Essentials plan
  • Automated reminders and notifications

What markets does PandaDoc serve?

Various, and typically not designed for healthcare. Tends to be better for small, remote teams and small businesses. Because of its unlimited signature features, it can also be good for small legal firms as well.

Read our full PandaDoc Review.

DocuSign CLM – Best for High-Volume Organizations

DocuSign, a market leader in e-signature software, offers three editions of its contract lifecycle management software – DocuSign CLM Essential, DocuSign CLM, and DocuSign CLM+. As part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud suite of products, DocuSign CLM helps businesses automate tasks and standardize processes with its templates and clause library and auto-populates new agreements with data from connected apps like Salesforce.

Pros
  • Easily automoate contract routing
  • API allows for integration with existing tools
  • Contract repository is searchable by keyword, concept and meta-data
Cons
  • Customer support, or lack thereof
  • More expensive than other providers

DocuSign CLM features

  • Native integration with DocuSign eSignature (sold separately)
  • Pre-built integrations with systems like Salesforce, Workday, SAP and more
  • Advanced formatting with dynamic tables, currency conversion and conditional logic to show/hide fields
  • Define pre-approved legal clauses and fallback options
  • History includes full audit trail
  • Set granular access permissions

What markets does DocuSign CLM serve?

Various, not exclusively designed for healthcare. Although it is one of the pricier options on our list, DocuSign CLM is a good full-feature solution for companies managing a high volume of contracts. DocuSign CLM Essentials is good for SMBs that are just getting started in contract management.

linksquares logo

LinkSquares – Best for Large Enterprises and Legal Firms

LinkSquares is all about “powering” contracts, not just signing them—including added features like “contract review” (AI-enabled reviews) to pore over large numbers of contracts.

Pros
  • AI-enabled “first-pass” reads of new contracts
  • Microsoft Word integration
  • AI-powered contract storage
Cons
  • Live editing can be cumbersome
  • Pricing details highly are customizable, tend to be higher

LinkSquares features

  • Unlock unlimited signatures and contracts
  • Integration with Microsoft Word is highly advantageous for frequent Office users
  • Audit trail and highly-collaborative editing features included
  • Create customized templates, and work “pre-contract” features which help you generate smarter contracts
  • Automated reminders and notifications

What markets does LinkSquares serve?

Though not exclusively designed for legal firms, it’s a cinch for large legal firms who have to sift through a lot of contract documentation. Its features are more suited for healthcare than the others on the list so far, especially given how it integrates more seamlessly with offline, less cloud-based features, such as Microsoft Office.

bonsai logo

Bonsai – Best for Freelancers

Bonsai is a “suite for freelancers,” including contract templates and other contract management features designed for the limited budgets of single-person business operations.

Pros
  • Free contract templates help freelancers get their footing
  • Auto-reminders will handle client reminding
Cons
  • Not a robust suite of features
  • Designed for lower-budget uses

Bonsai features

  • Free contract templates available
  • Includes invoice linking to connect contracts to invoices
  • Can package with freelance proposals to give clients an idea of the contract they’ll sign
  • Automated reminders and notifications

What markets does Bonsai serve?

Mainly freelancers, as the entire Bonsai suite is designed for independent contractors, freelancers, and small businesses. This can include graphic designers, writers, people in the wedding industry, consultants, and even short-term construction jobs.

ironclad logo

Ironclad – Best for Digital Security

Ironclad considers itself the “global leader” in digital contract management but is especially good at handling the sales and legal departments—if your business is large enough to have them.

Pros
  • Contract editing comes with pre-definable features for scaling up contract use
  • Auto-generation of order forms for sales department
  • Encryption and cloud-based deployment
Cons
  • Designed for teams, but less so for individuals and small businesses

Ironclad features

  • Unlimited signatures and easy auto-generation of contracts
  • Integration with SFDC and CPQ makes it easy for larger corporations and companies to migrate to
  • Audit trail included
  • Customized templates available, as are easy-edit forms which allow you to use formulas to auto-generate contracts
  • Automated reminders and notifications

What markets does Ironclad serve?

Companies like L’Oreal use Ironclad, which helps demonstrate just what a useful security product this can be while also offering the scalability which helps large organizations move with their legal paperwork.

Compare the best contract management software side-by-side

Software name Why we picked It Starting price for cheapest plan Highlights
ContractSafe Best for Fast & Easy Implementation $299/month Most robust features
PandaDoc Best for Sales Teams Free Unlimited contracts and signatures with the free option
DocuSign Best for High-Volume Organizations $39/user for “Professional” Advanced formatting and clause library
LinkSquares Best for Large Enterprises and Legal Firms Enterprise—”Contact us” pricing AI-enabled quick-scanning, first-pass reads of contracts
Bonsai Best for Freelancers $24/month Free contract templates
Ironclad Best for Digital Security $59/month Robust encryption and security

What is contract management software?

Contract management software is a program for creating, editing, managing, signing, and securely storing business-related documents, such as non-disclosure agreements, employment agreements, and the like. It enables “eSignatures,” or digital signatures, which are legally-binding signatures that individuals and businesses can use online.

Think of contract management software as your contract filing system. But in digital form, you can enable all sorts of added features, like password protection, templates for repeating standard contracts, and cloud storage.

Who uses contract management software?

  • Large, enterprise-scale businesses. These are the big companies requiring a lot of contracts—which means a hefty amount of paperwork management. For businesses like these, maintaining a file system for contracts can be so cumbersome, efficient contract management software isn’t just a nice option. It’s a necessity.
  • Small-to-mid-sized businesses. These businesses might sign contracts less often, but that doesn’t make their documents any less important. Smaller businesses especially need to have their client work in ironclad, legally-valid written form, as they can rely on these contracts to stay afloat. And being able to sign and refer to these contracts is an indispensable part of their business.
  • Individuals and freelancers. Contracts are no less important for individuals, but individuals, single-member LLCs, and freelancers may be less experienced with long-term contracts. For this reason, contract management software can offer vital systems for organizing, signing, and storing contracts.

What does contract management software do?

  • Offers searchable indexes for looking through a wide variety of signed contracts
  • Systemetize contracts like NDAs and new employee onboarding to minimize company-wide risks in working with new hires and third parties
  • Increases speed, especially for HR departments who would otherwise spend too much time on contracts
  • Audit trails help large companies monitor who has made changes to contracts, and what the most recent action on each document has been
  • Improves collaboration between two parties, helping companies avoid “email tag” which makes it difficult to find contracts in email chains
  • Enhances easy sharing so multiple parties can review a contract, such as outsourcing to a lawyer to review
  • Adds security to vital company information: passwords, bank information, and more
  • Provides “scalability” for a company moving from one employee to multiple
  • Uses cloud-based storage to avoid mishaps which affect one computer losing all vital contract information

Benefits of using contract management software

Why bother with software when paper filing makes as much sense? You’ll probably find it doesn’t. Here are some of the key benefits of using contract management software:

  • Re-usable templates make for easy, drag-and-drop signing for mass editing of documents and contracts
  • Cloud storage provides backups and audit trails on each document, expanding the amount of control and transparency you have with each document
  • Emailing and automated notifications give you a dashboard of what needs to be signed, automatically organizing your contract needs

Yes, you’ll save time and streamline your operations. But contract management software helps reduce legal risks thanks to audit trails, giving you something rare: the combination of both convenience and much more thorough contract saving.

How much does contract management software cost?

Contract management software runs the gamut. Some vendors will provide unlimited contract signatures with their unpaid account. Others, like ContractSafe, charge a flat monthly rate for unlimited users (between $299/month – $899/month) with more features at each pricing tier. There are also “enterprise-level” payment tiers offered by some vendors in which the cost isn’t advertised online, but can run above $100/month/user, depending on the suite of features you want to unlock.

Who should use contract management software, and what are the different types?

Generally, contract management software applies to a wide range of businesses—consultancies need contracts, multimedia and entertainment need contracts, IT and technology need contracts, and the list goes on.

However, there’s one key differentiator here you may want to pay attention to: healthcare. Because of strict HIPAA rules, there is some software built exclusively for healthcare and medical providers.

And firms in which contracts are part of daily life—such as legal firms and IT firms—may have more needs for scaling and unlimited signatures.

Key questions to consider

Before choosing which contract management software to use, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many contracts do I need to send each month?
  2. Do I need software with specific levels of security for my industry?
  3. When contracts are saved, how easy is it to look them up again?
  4. Does the contract software play well with third parties? Does it create more trouble when emailing clients and vendors than it’s worth?
  5. For all of its features, is it worth the price?

Contract Management Software FAQs

What can I do with existing contracts?
Some contract management software offers OCR, or optical character recognition, which can take existing contracts from paper and translate them into digital, editable documents. This is obviously an advanced feature you won’t always find with the lowest pricing tiers in popular contract management software, but instead offered for enterprise-level customers.

How do I get people onboard with new contract management software?
This may be the most challenging part of the process. Once a team is familiar with your contract management software, it can go smoothly—with automation and emailing working in your favor. But if you’ve only ever handled paper contracts, or use disparate systems for contract management, it may take some time to get onboarded. If getting employees “onboard” new software is a primary concern, make sure you don’t select the cheapest option, but select something robust, and capable of handling diverse business needs.

What is the most important feature for contract management software?
This is one you’ll have to answer. For larger enterprises, security and scaling features—like contract templates and audit trails for monitoring who’s accessed which file—tend to be more important. For smaller companies, the ability to sign and store contracts is often enough, so it then comes down to pricing. Contract management software is one type of software in which there isn’t much difference between industries, however—except for healthcare, which can have all sorts of added HIPAA and security requirements.

Our methodology for choosing the best contract management software

We started with a list of 84 contract management software options. Yeah. 84. Of these, we narrowed it down to a list of 20 candidates, and from this list, we weighed the popularity, customer reviews, features, pricing, and benefits of working with each of the options.

Ultimately, it came down to a combination of vendors who offer the best use cases for specific types of organizations (such as Bonsai for freelancers) and how we felt these stacked up against other offerings in the field.

We collected information from vendors and verified it through third-party sources, such as software reviews, customer information, and the companies themselves. From there, we considered a few of the other following features:

  • Pricing and transparency: Pricing isn’t just a case of lowest-price wins. It’s also the value customers get for their money. For this reason, although we did include one low-cost option on this list, it wasn’t always a concern when weighing larger, bigger-budget options with plenty to offer for the price.
  • Ease of use: With contract management software, the entire point is to simplify your business processes. If the software isn’t easy to use and automatic enough to take some work out of your HR department, then it’s probably not going to be a great fit. The selections we made were all vetted for ease of use, especially user interface and weighing customer reactions to using each.
  • Brand reputation: We also weighed Internet search results, online reviews, and brand popularity. Although a product being number one in the market is not direct evidence it’s the best, it’s certainly evidence the offering is thoroughly vetted, tested, and weighed well in the marketplace.

We collect information about vendors and verify it through:

  • Interviews
  • Video and live demos
  • Vendor and parent company websites

The B2B Reviews editorial team consists of researchers, writers and editors who cover all aspects of business-to-business software and services across a wide variety of industries. Our research takes hours, days and weeks to compile and analyze the data that backs our recommendations. Our goal is to make this painstaking process our job so you can get back to doing yours.