The story of open source software is probably one of the most interesting examples of functionality and practicality versus commercialism that can be found in the IT world today. Third-party developers abound in the IT sphere, with each offering solutions and support that claim to be better than their rivals—faster applications, better customer support, full system integration, yes—but for a price. On the other side of the spectrum we have open-source software—proponents of Linux, UNIX, free development and original ideas. Software developers get into open source for a variety of reasons, but the main idea here is that developers can create software applications that are either at par or surpass their third party counterparts, at zero cost. It is this type of thinking, which motivates developers to continue writing programs and applications that serve as alternatives to their costlier brethren.
With the rise of Enterprise Resource Programs used in large-scale companies, there also came the need to find an open source alternative that was both scalable and compatible with a number of systems. In this regard, a number of more complex systems were developed—customer management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, all large-scale applications built into distinct modules. This modular construction allowed teams of developers to work more efficiently, as the end result would see each model integrated to one true system. However, this did not mean that the open source development was not without its hiccups. In the early development stages, quite a number of open source developers may become discouraged with their progress and the continuous advancement of technology.
As it stands, there has not been a single system developed that is purely dedicated to contract management software. At this point, the software does not exist. A workaround to this is the use of another enterprise-level system that can respond to your specific needs in contract management. You can use any open-source document management software for your contract management needs. A few systems come to mind at this point, Nuxeo, Alfresco, Knowledge Tree, Xinco and the Owl Intranet Engine are all examples of systems that have document management capabilities. Some of these open source systems even include document tracking capabilities and change logs in case any of the documents are edited. These systems also come with a fully working report generation tool, just in case you will need statistics on your document. The idea here is to find a document management system that is very scalable and adaptable to multiple systems. Without this capability, you may find yourself in a bind. Good document management systems allow a categorical indexing of documents and a quick, effective search for information. Many of the systems mentioned earlier are also document repository systems as well, so there should be no problem in keeping accurate records.
Try to search the Internet for these types of systems and download them for use. Give yourself a trial period, even if the software is free. Be sure to download the system’s documentation and manuals, if there are any, to serve a quick reference guides. Try out a few of the systems first because you will need to get comfortable with both the interface of the system and its features.