How to automate contracts for faster management processes

Contracts govern virtually every transaction between businesses and their partners or customers. With such a high volume of contracts to negotiate, oversee, and file on an annual basis, companies can lose as much as 9 percent of their revenue if they have any inefficiencies in these processes.

Proper contract management can bring order to the chaos of managing the hundreds to thousands of contracts your organization might sign in a given year — but it’s incredibly labor intensive.

For every contract, employees must customize verbiage, get approval from the legal team, submit it to counterparties, negotiate terms, collect signatures, and file it. Each step in the process involves manual labor and time that team members could spend more effectively on higher-level work. Organizations need a way to take this menial — but critical — work off their employees’ plates.

That’s where contract automation comes in. Here’s how it can help your organization, as well as some tips for streamlining your contract management workflows.

Why you should automate contracts

Motivation is a finite resource, and freeing up your employees’ time and energy to focus on more important projects improves overall labor productivity and value. It also reduces the chance of human error. But how do you streamline a process as complex as contract management?

Automating processes improves efficiency, which is important for organizations, their workers, and their partners. Removing some or all manual effort from the contract management process prevents bottlenecks in workflows and reduces the chance of variation in how different employees handle contract-related tasks. This creates a smoother experience for the counterparty as well and helps strengthen the relationship.

How to automate contracts

Contract automation is as simple as digitizing the various processes that go into contract management. Here’s how to do it in five simple steps:

1. Define roles and responsibilities

One of the benefits of automating contracts is decentralizing the approval process so you can finalize contracts in fewer steps and less time. But before you begin to automate contracts, you need to assign authority and responsibilities in this new workflow. Define the roles that members in each department will play in automated contract workflows and specify who needs to provide final sign-off or approval for each document.

2. Digitize contracts

Contract automation can completely eliminate paper documents from the contract management process. Online form builder Jotform, for example, offers a number of contract templates with editable fields that authorized users can update according to the specifics of a particular agreement. This turns contract creation into a self-serve process that allows teams to work more quickly without burdening the legal department.

3. Make use of a contract dashboard

Eliminating paper contracts doesn’t just free up filing cabinets; it can also improve contract visibility. Tools like Jotform Sign automatically create a database of all the contracts you’re managing in a single dashboard. The Jotform Sign Inbox groups contracts by tab: Canceled, Declined, Waiting for Others, and Waiting for My Signature. Each contract also includes an audit trail, making it easy to track the status of each contract.

Department heads, legal team members, and other stakeholders curious about the status of a document can simply glance at the inbox for an update without reaching out to their team. And since contract files are available directly from Jotform Sign Inbox, they can easily review deal verbiage and feedback from the counterparty.

4. Automate approval workflows

In manual contract management workflows, each step of the process can involve multiple back-and-forth communications to get approval before moving on to the next step. This requires careful tracking to prevent bottlenecks and keep tasks from slipping through the cracks.

Jotform Sign completely automates this workflow. In each leg of the journey, participants simply have to review the document, e-sign it, and click a button to move the contract along. The next employee in the workflow will automatically be notified that they have a new document in their queue to review. If they don’t respond in a timely manner, the system will generate a follow-up notification and escalate the matter.

5. Collect e-signatures

Digital documents streamline the signature collection process. With manual management processes, the counterparty would have to print out a PDF of the contract, sign the document, scan it, and email it back as a new PDF. With secure e-signature tools like Jotform Sign, on the other hand, it’s easy to send online forms that each party can sign in their browser without the hassle (and waste) of printing, scanning, and reuploading.

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Automate contracts with Jotform Sign

Contract management is a tedious and time-consuming process — but no organization can afford to handle it poorly. Inefficiencies can cost countless hours of wasted labor and drive up operating costs, while human error could completely derail otherwise profitable arrangements between two parties.

Jotform Sign allows users to draft, disseminate, and manage contracts from one central place, automating the entire contract life cycle. It even integrates seamlessly with your organizations’ other systems — without interrupting your existing workflows. So take advantage of contract automation to help your workforce become even more efficient.

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT AN ATTORNEY BEFORE RELYING ON ANY FORM CONTRACT OR  CONTRACT TEMPLATE. THE CONTENT ABOVE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

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