4 Ways to Automate Contract Management

Digitized contracts are cost efficient and competitive

Homem e mulher no escritório trabalhando em frente a uma tela

Organizations are investing in contract management solutions at higher rates than ever. In a related survey, a whopping 92% of small business customers expect to automate or accelerate digital solutions to grow their businesses. They’re realizing the negative impact of outdated, disconnected systems.  The longer a contract lifecycle drags on, the more deals stall, stunting overall business growth. The main culprit? Manual, fragmented contract processes that require too many steps to finalize.

The survey also found that contracts go through as many as three or more versions before reaching the signature stage. To speed up the sales cycle, it’s important to implement a contract management solution that automates tasks such as redlining, review management, versions, and approvals. Digital solutions are the answer to managing processes from start to finish, including generation, negotiation, and approval of agreements.

The cost of inefficient business processes

To clearly see the importance of digital transformation, you must identify the risks of not making these changes, and how opting out or delaying digital optimization will impact your bottom line. 

Here are some of the effects of outdated, manual contract processes:

  • Inefficient contract management costs businesses 9.2% of their revenue each year (DocuSign research).
  • 33% of employees say that their contracts take 30+ hours to negotiate. Negotiation includes modifications, versioning, back and forth between various parties, including internal stakeholders. 
  • 63% of sales professionals report needing to rework their proposals and contracts due to human error and data entry errors (DocuSign research).

Four ways to digitize contract management

By focusing on digitizing four key areas of contract lifecycle management, small businesses can avoid errors, streamline workflows, and do business faster.

1. Seamless contract formatting 

Manual document generation can be time-consuming and error-prone. To digitize this process, implement a technology solution that seamlessly merges data from other sources like Salesforce. When a contract management solution can automatically pull information from a central database, sales reps no longer need to waste time re-keying data into the agreement. Integrated solutions help auto-fill information based on the specific customer you’re preparing the agreement for. 

2. Centralized reviews and approvals

The best contract management solutions allow you full control over your agreement content and the approval process. Digital solutions keep formatting consistent to prevent sales reps from leaving out critical information when generating sales orders. Final documents accessible in familiar formats like Microsoft Word make it easy for reps to preview and download the doc right from Salesforce. The document is automatically saved within the Salesforce Files for easy access in the future. 

Conditional content drives automatic inclusion or exclusion of information with the agreement. As an additional benefit, admins only need to maintain one template to support multiple variations. When updates are needed, they’ll only need to update one central version which will be reflected across the different variations. 

Easily import documents from or access what’s already in Salesforce for approvals. Reps can send agreements directly from within Salesforce to the customer for external review, leveraging contact information pulled from the account. Before sending the document out, they’ll have the option to select a due date and preview the document name, allowing them to customize messages before sending. 

The end-customer will receive a notification that a document is waiting for their review. With one click, customers gain access to the portal and receive high-level instructions on how to complete the contract. Your digital solution should create a record that tracks all activity. 

3. Automatic change detection for managing negotiations and revisions

Document redlining can cause confusion and errors without automated change detection. To streamline the revision process, implement a solution that automatically pairs any two versions of a document to show changes. This feature eliminates reliance on change tracking on external programs like Word or Google Docs. 

Your contract management solution must make it easy for customers to download and easily make revisions or additions to the contract. The customer won’t need to turn on change tracking because changes will automatically record, making it impossible to miss anything they added, removed, or edited. 

The record should automatically update in your system (like Salesforce) indicating where it is in the review process. This way, the sales rep can manage the entire process, gaining visibility into which parties have received the document and when. The rep can then send documents out for additional internal or external review.

4. Automated tracking for improved accountability

Proper tracking of document activity is necessary for auditing and overall accountability. Your contract management solution should record a history of changes, including comments and version comparisons. No matter how many versions there are of the agreement, they should be easy to access in the audit trail. 

Activity history shows you centralized document records so you can view a document's status at any time. You should instantly be able to know if the agreement is out for customer review or internal approval.  Solutions that centralize all of these records in their respective Salesforce opportunities, organize documents in a way that keeps everyone on the same page, giving all parties access to the opportunity and history at any time.

Digitizing processes like contract management are becoming an increasingly urgent priority for businesses. The right contract management solution will effectively save time, reduce costs, and streamline tasks. The costs of inefficient processes far outweigh any cost-savings that come from opting out of a digital solution that provides full visibility into the sales process. Companies must adopt digital solutions to stay competitive. 

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