Back to Basics: Contract Automation 101

Blog

Your business is growing – and that’s a mixed blessing at times. With growth comes more paperwork and more complex contracts. Reviews, approvals, and sign-offs of agreements are complex and tedious, with organizations having little control or security over the process.

Facilitating contract negotiations through technologies with inadequate oversight increases the risk and fear of executing the wrong version of a contract, which can come at a high cost to your business. Fortunately, organizations of all sizes and scope are turning to a new tool to handle this otherwise labor-intensive undertaking: contract automation.

But what is it? Contract automation is simply the process of developing, managing and storing legal agreements online between you and anyone who does business with your organization. That may not seem important given everything else on your plate, but contracts are at the core of your firm’s growth and stability, and anything that can simplify their creation and maintenance is crucial for your company’s long-term prospects.

What can contract automation do for me?

Contract automation software takes control of the entire process, allowing you to execute contracts faster and build better relationships. Streamlining the contract process shortens the contract cycle by putting the process on autopilot through automated tasks, easy collaboration with potential partners and end-to-end visibility. You’ll deepen your relationships with customers and vendors by making it easy to do business with you. Additionally, contract automation software enables your internal stakeholders, such as Legal and Finance, to more easily manage risk for the company.

Let’s take a dive into some of the primary benefits of contract automation.

Let’s make a deal – and fast

There’s a time element involved in making any contract. You know there are other options out there for what you’re providing, and the other party likely has similar concerns at their end. If the essential details are in place, you likely just want to get an agreement in place and move on to the next task. Every business owner knows that time is money, and every minute wasted in creating a deal means a longer delay in taking in the revenue that keeps things going.

Contract automation expedites that by having everything readily accessible online. There’s no emailing copies back and forth – or even mailing them, which can be cumbersome and create confusion over the various versions being shared. The current version is on the screen and ready for review.

And online automation is a huge help to the process of drafting agreements. The parties involved can markup a proposed deal with comments and suggestions. All suggestions are tracked and then can be accepted and/or rejected. No more swapping emailed versions or waiting for snail mail. Plus, with legally binding eSignatures you can negotiate and close with one process, in one platform.

Reduce risks with increased visibility

Visibility is probably the most obvious benefit of refining the drafting and implementation of contracts, but its importance can’t be overstated. All relevant details of an agreement between you and someone transacting with your organization are plain for everyone to see. With end-to-end visibility, your stakeholders will always know where the contract is in the process and can quickly see all contract activities and contract versions.

The increased visibility means your team will always have the most up-to-date version and won’t accidentally send out the wrong contract. With all contract activities completed on one platform, bottlenecks and delays can easily be identified. Thankfully, the days of “What’s the status?” type emails are gone. Contract automation solutions provide organizations with all relevant data, providing insights into the overall contract process.

Integrate with current IT infrastructure

Contract automation systems should also integrate with your other IT systems so that you can start and end your contract with your record of truth. The process is also an important part of any organization’s customer relationship management (CRM) and document management strategy. Integrating contract creation into an existing CRM system, such as Salesforce, makes life easier for your salespeople, since they don’t have to duplicate data entry and have access to the latest executed contract. Integrating with your current document management system ensures that all of your contracts are automatically warehoused in the appropriate file system.

Improved relationships

An inefficient, time-consuming contracting process wears the patience of your customers and vendors. A smooth-running, streamlined contract automation solution, on the other hand, shortens contract cycles and lessens the time investment made by customers and vendors, just as it reduces the risk of mistakes ending up in the agreement. All of this, naturally, builds the value of your organization’s brand. This becomes a key competitive advantage, one that creates strong relationships over the years and boosts sales and repeat business.

Customers and vendors aren’t the only ones who will appreciate an automated contract process – your own employees will love it, too. Internal stakeholders can forget about chasing down signatures and digging through a bloated inbox for updated contract versions and statuses. They can always see where a draft agreement is in the process and have set reminders to ensure all finished contracts are signed on time.

Automation software makes every part of creating and finalizing contracts easier. These agreements are in many ways the lifeblood of your organization as they directly relate to your incoming (and outgoing) revenue. It’s critical for organizations to consider a contract automation solution to securely negotiate and execute contracts (all within a single online platform) to close deals faster, minimize risk, increase repeat business and raise employee productivity.

These benefits all add up to bottom-line gains. Do your research, review the available options and see what others have to say about their experiences. You’ll end up wondering what took you so long to adopt contract automation.