How To Manage Your Contracts Using Excel Workbooks

Excel is used by many law firms to manage contracts, and those proficient with the use of Excel can create a dashboard to help manage the lifecycle of an entire contract. The various kinds of business agreements hold extremely sensitive data. For this reason, they require an extremely efficient, and secure program to manage business contracts. Excel can track the number of contracts, calculate the costs of each contract, and track workflow.

Using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language allows users to create an Excel contract management template with functionality that exceeds the typical spreadsheet. With the use of VBA, users can use Excel to manage the complete lifecycle of a contract. To effectively manage contracts using Excel, you need consistent and complete access to crucial information contained within each agreement. Leveraging the full functionality of Excel, you can create a contract management solution that can:

  • Link complex relationships in contracts
  • Display the relevant data in various formats
  • Enable consistent reporting
  • Allow for the exporting and importing of data
  • Provide a dashboard that is detail-rich
  • Simplify the data entry process
  • Automatically generate contract numbers

In the legal field, a robust IT department should be able to create an Excel contract management template that accomplishes all the above features while still being easy to use for staff. The workbook for each contract will include datasheets for each contract that list all relevant dates associated with the contract, parties, vendors, terms, and special clauses. For complete lifecycle management, additional pages will be needed for workflow management and reporting. One downside to working in Excel, especially when multiple people use the workbook, is that data can easily be corrupted. The solution to this problem is to have data available in a read-only format unless someone that knows what they’re doing is editing it.

Steps To Simplify The Use Of Excel

  • Assign each contract a contract identification number
  • Use a consistent naming scheme that makes it easy to find the contract you are searching for
  • List external contacts that are the named parties in the contract
  • Assign a department or internal contact that list the department or person who will be managing the contract for your firm
  • Identify the type of contract
  • List all action dates that are in the contract
  • Have a column to mark the status of each contract

Database Concepts In Excel

The workbook can serve as a simple relational database. These database systems can largely improve workflow efficiency. When there are too many relationships in the contract data, the data will need to be normalized. Normalizing data means pulling the repeating data into a new table. Excel allows you to create as many relational tables as required, and you can link each to the appropriate contract. Each contract will need to be individually reviewed, and critical terms, clauses, dates, and other relevant data will need to be tagged. The information will then be entered into your contract tracking spreadsheet that serves as the master sheet for your Excel contract management. An easy way to see which actions in the contract are coming up is to use the rule-based highlighting function in Excel. Using the rule-based highlighting gives you an easy way to sort your data by approaching dates.


Security breaches are always a risk and can leave a firm open to liabilities while risking your valuable reputation. Use the “encrypt with password” function on each project workbook. Use a central document repository such as DropBox, Google Docs, or DocuSign and share the password only with those who have a defined reason to access contracts.

Final Considerations

Contract management software with artificial intelligence is a faster, efficient, and more secure way to manage the entire lifecycle of a contract. Contract management software also provides risk mitigation in the capacity to identify problematic clauses in each contract, and can automatically generate alerts about approaching action dates.

Contracts can be managed effectively with Excel, but it requires a time-consuming process to create a workbook for each contract, tagging of relevant data and data entry for each field. Law firms deal with a large volume of contracts, meaning that keeping track of each contract in Excel equals a large quantity of time.

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