There are at least 8 potential stages in the lifecycle of a contract:
Contract templates are often pre-authorised by a legal team member and/or supplied by a trusted legal database. Contract templates should be up-to-date with the latest legal changes and have dated versions. They will contain optional clauses and blank terms which will need to be filled in with contract specific information.
The draft contract needs to be reviewed and accepted by all the involved parties before it can be executed. The terms might evolve or be reworded to satisfy each side's requirements. This negotiation can be quick or long depending on the complexity of the agreement and the availability of the parties.
A contract can be signed once the terms have been accepted by all the parties. The signature can be electronic or via wet-ink depending on each side's specific requirements and choices.
Each party then needs to fulfil their contractual obligations after the signature of the agreement. This can mean delivering services in exchange for payment or exchanging information to meet the purpose of a non-disclosure agreement.
The terms of a contract can in most cases be amended or changed subject to negotiation. An amendment might be requested when the premises of the agreement have evolved or an event in the contract permits a renegotiation such as for example a rent increase.
Most contracts have end dates which means that they will eventually expire. When a contract is close to expiry, both parties will have the option to terminate or renew the contract under the same or different terms.
After a contract has expired it is important to keep a copy for your records as you might need your contract for claiming warranties. It is also useful to record the data so that the terms can be used as a benchmark for future contracts.