Contract Analysis & Review Checklist: Questions, Examples

contract review checklist

Have you ever found yourself knee-deep in contractual jargon, wondering if you’ve missed a critical clause that could cost your organization thousands or even millions? How confident are you that every contract your team signs is optimized for both performance and cost efficiency? If you’re a procurement stakeholder, a category manager, or a contract specialist, these questions are not just hypothetical—they’re the daily challenges you face.

In this blog, you will learn about a structured approach to learning, understanding, and reviewing contracts, minimizing risks, and maximizing value based on asking the right kind of questions. We delve into key questions you should be asking, highlight essential clauses to scrutinize, and offer real-world examples to illustrate best practices. Whether you’re negotiating a new vendor agreement, revisiting an existing partnership, or aiming to standardize contract reviews across your organization, this checklist will serve as your go-to resource.

Contract Review Checklist – Key Questions to Ask

When reviewing contracts, it’s important to ask key questions to ensure that you understand the terms and obligations, mitigate risks, and make informed decisions. Here are some important questions to consider:

General Questions

  • Who are the parties?: Are all parties correctly identified with their legal names?
  • Effective date: When does the contract start, and when does it end?
  • Term of the contract: Apart from the effective date, how long is the contract valid?
  • Termination notice: What notice period is required for termination?
  • Who are the authorized signatories?: Are the people signing the contract authorized to bind the parties legally?
  • Amendment procedures: What is the process for making changes to the contract after it has been executed?
  • What are the force majeure clauses?: What happens if the contract can’t be fulfilled due to unforeseen events like natural disasters?
  • Can the contract be assigned or subcontracted?: Under what conditions can duties be delegated to third parties?
  • What is the venue for legal actions?: Where will legal disputes be settled?
  • How are ambiguities handled?: Is there a clause that states how to interpret ambiguous terms?
  • Can the contract be executed in counterparts?: Is it acceptable for parties to sign separate copies of the contract?
  • Is this the entire agreement?: Does the contract state that it constitutes the entire agreement between the parties, superseding all prior agreements?

Scope and Deliverables

  • What are the services or goods provided?: Are the deliverables clearly defined?
  • How are changes managed?: Is there a mechanism for handling scope changes?
  • What are the key milestones?: Are there clearly defined phases or checkpoints for the project?
  • How are milestones verified?: What criteria will be used to determine that a milestone has been successfully reached?
  • What are the dependencies?: Are there any dependencies that could affect the timing or quality of the deliverables?
  • What are the acceptance criteria?: How will it be determined that the goods or services have been satisfactorily delivered?
  • Are there performance guarantees?: Are there any warranties or performance bonds to ensure quality and reliability?
  • What documentation is Required?: Are there specific types, formats, or standards for documentation to be provided?
  • Is the arrangement exclusive?: Are any terms related to exclusivity or non-competition specified?
  • Who provides resources?: Are the responsibilities for providing necessary resources, like tools or materials, clearly outlined?
  • Is subcontracting allowed?: If yes, under what conditions can the vendor subcontract services or portions of the project?
  • Are there penalties for delays or non-performance?: Conversely, are there rewards or incentives for early or exceptional performance?

Financial Terms

  • What is the payment structure?: Are payment terms, including amounts, timelines, and methods, clearly defined?
  • Are there any hidden costs?: Are there any fees or expenses that are not explicitly stated?
  • What is the billing cycle?: Is the vendor billing monthly, quarterly, or some other frequency?
  • Are taxes included?: Does the pricing include taxes, or will they be added on? Who is responsible for paying any duties?
  • In what currency are payments to be made?: If dealing with international contracts, are exchange rates or fluctuations addressed?
  • What are the penalties for late payments?: Are there any interest rates or fees specified for late payments?
  • Are any upfront payments required?: Are there any retainer fees or security deposits that need to be paid?
  • Is there a mechanism for price changes?: Are there clauses that allow for price adjustments due to market conditions, inflation, etc.?
  • Are any discounts or rebates available?: Are there conditions under which discounts or rebates would apply?
  • Who covers out-of-pocket expenses?: Are expenses like travel, meals, or materials covered, and how are they reimbursed?
  • What payment methods are acceptable?: Are payments to be made by check, wire transfer, or some other method?
  • Is there an auditing clause?: Does the contract allow for financial audits to verify billing accuracy?

Performance Metrics / KPIs

  • What are the quality standards?: Are there clearly defined quality expectations?
  • How is performance measured?: Are there metrics or KPIs in place?
  • What are the service level agreements (SLAs)?: Are there specified response times or uptime guarantees?
  • What reporting is required?: What kind of performance data must be reported, and how often?
  • How is performance monitored?: Are there tools or methods specified for ongoing performance monitoring?
  • What are the remedies for performance failures?: Are there predefined actions or penalties for not meeting performance standards?
  • Is there a cure period?: Is there a specified time period to rectify performance issues before penalties are applied?
  • Are there scheduled performance reviews?: How often will performance be formally evaluated?
  • Who conducts the reviews?: Is it the responsibility of one party or a joint effort?
  • What are the escalation mechanisms?: If there are issues with performance, what is the process for escalation?
  • Are there incentives for exceeding performance metrics?: Are there bonuses or other rewards for exceptional performance?
  • Is customer feedback incorporated?: Is there a mechanism to include customer or end-user feedback in performance evaluation?

Legal Protections and Liabilities

  • What are the termination clauses?: Under what conditions can the contract be terminated by either party?
  • Are there any non-compete or confidentiality clauses?: Are there restrictions on information sharing or future engagements?
  • What is the governing law?: Which jurisdiction’s laws will be used to interpret the contract?
  • What are the indemnification provisions?: Who is responsible for what in the event of failure, damage, or legal action?

Compliance and Regulatory

  • Is the contract in compliance with applicable laws?: Are there any potential legal issues?
  • How are disputes resolved?: Is there a mechanism for conflict resolution, like arbitration or mediation?
  • Are licenses and permits addressed?: Does the contract specify who is responsible for obtaining and maintaining any necessary licenses and permits?
  • How is data handled?: Are there clauses that outline how data is to be stored, processed, and protected, especially in accordance with laws like GDPR or CCPA?
  • Who owns the intellectual property?: Does the contract clarify ownership of intellectual property created during the contract term?
  • Is environmental compliance covered?: Are there stipulations about adherence to environmental laws and regulations?
  • Are industry-specific regulations addressed?: For instance, are there compliance requirements for healthcare (HIPAA), finance (SOX), etc.?
  • Are ethical standards defined?: Are there clauses regarding adherence to ethical standards or corporate social responsibility?
  • What are the safety requirements?: Are there guidelines or requirements for adhering to safety standards and regulations?
  • What are the record-keeping requirements?: Does the contract specify what records need to be kept and for how long?
  • Is there a right to audit?: Does the contract allow for compliance audits, and who bears the cost?
  • Are export/import laws considered?: If goods or data cross borders, are there clauses that ensure compliance with export and import laws?


  • Are all exhibits and appendices Included?: Are all referenced documents attached and consistent with the main contract?
  • Who has the authority to modify the contract?: Is it clear who can make changes to the contract after it has been signed?
  • What happens at the end of the contract?: Are there provisions for renewal, return of materials, or other post-contract activities?

Analytical Tools for Contract Review

Analytical tools can play a vital role in contract review by providing insights, automating routine tasks, and highlighting areas that require attention. Here are some types of analytical tools that can be beneficial for periodic contract reviews:

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) AI System: NLP-based AI systems can be used for clause identification, sentiment analysis, and keyword extraction.
  • Contract Analytics Dashboard: Tools like Tableau or Power BI can help you visualize key contract metrics, making it easier to interpret large volumes of data.
  • Cost Analysis Tools: These tools can help you understand the financial implications of contracts, including costs, payment terms, and penalties.
  • AI-driven Compliance Systems: These tools can automatically scan contracts for compliance with industry regulations, legal requirements, and internal policies.
  • Predictive Analytics Tools: Can be used to forecast contract performance, risks, and even the likelihood of contract renewal.
  • eDiscovery Tools: These are often used in legal proceedings but can also be useful for deep-dive analyses of contractual obligations and rights.

Contract Review KPIs List

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential for measuring the effectiveness of your contract review process. These metrics can help you understand how well your organization is managing its contracts and where there may be opportunities for improvement. Here are some KPIs commonly used in contract review:

  • Savings realized: The amount saved through negotiation or other means during the review process.
  • Review cycle time: The average time it takes to complete a full contract review.
  • Error rate: The number of errors or issues identified in contracts post-execution as a percentage of total contracts.
  • Compliance rate: The percentage of contracts that meet regulatory and internal policy requirements.
  • Cost per review: The average cost involved in reviewing a single contract.
  • Dispute rate: The frequency of legal disputes arising from contract issues.
  • High-risk clauses identified: The number of high-risk clauses or terms flagged during the review.
  • Automation rate: The percentage of the review process that is automated.


In today’s fast-paced business environment, effective contract management is more crucial than ever. As we’ve explored in this blog, a well-structured contract review checklist is your first line of defense. It arms you with key questions that cover every facet of a contract, from general terms to financial implications and compliance issues. These questions serve as a roadmap, guiding procurement stakeholders, category managers, and contract specialists through the world of legal documents.

But asking the right questions is just the starting point. We also delved into the arsenal of analytical tools available for contract review. These range from text analytics and analytical dashboards to predictive analytics / AI tools. The right combination of these tools can not only streamline your review process but also provide deep insights that manual reviews may miss. In an era where data is king, these tools help you make informed decisions that could save time, money, and potential legal complications.

Last but not least, we discussed contract review KPIs that serve as performance gauges for your contract management process. These KPIs measure everything from the efficiency and quality of contract reviews to financial and risk management aspects. By keeping an eye on these metrics, organizations can continuously refine their contract review processes, ensuring they remain both effective and efficient.

Ajitesh Kumar
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Ajitesh Kumar

I have been recently working in the area of Data analytics including Data Science and Machine Learning / Deep Learning. I am also passionate about different technologies including programming languages such as Java/JEE, Javascript, Python, R, Julia, etc, and technologies such as Blockchain, mobile computing, cloud-native technologies, application security, cloud computing platforms, big data, etc. For latest updates and blogs, follow us on Twitter. I would love to connect with you on Linkedin. Check out my latest book titled as First Principles Thinking: Building winning products using first principles thinking. Check out my other blog,
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