Have you ever purchased a Have you ever purchased a car from a dealership? If you have, then you’ve experienced all the headaches involved in orchestrating a contract firsthand. Once you and the salesperson negotiate the price of the car, they need to get management approval for the purchase. Then, you need to go through a similar process with the loan officer. Digital contract management can simplify all of this.
Digital contract management software decreases the time and money required to negotiate, draft, sign, store, and consult documents. These savings occur throughout the entire lifecycle of the contract.
In this article, I’ll go through exactly why you need digital contract management and how it will benefit your business. But first, let me introduce you to SignTime as one of the premiere digital contract management solutions available today.
What is SignTime?
It can be difficult to coordinate schedules when trying to get a contract signed. This can hurt your bottom line because sales are more likely to go through when you remove the hurdles of doing business.
Benefits of a digital contract management system
There are many benefits to implementing a digital contract management system. Here are just some of the most important ones.
One of the perks of moving your contracting processes online is the amount of time you will save. Digital contract management systems help to automate many of the more tedious parts of the contract lifecycle.
Instead of drafting five unique contracts, you can use digital contract templates. Then, instead of sending those five contracts to five individuals, one at a time, you can send them to everyone at once. Finally, you no longer need to keep track of who has signed the document as the software will notify you. You can even send specific reminders to only the parties who have not yet signed.
Secure contract storage and retrieval
Digital contract storage means that you can access your documents from the cloud, anywhere. Your digital contract repository is encrypted for security, which makes it a lot safer than any filing cabinet. Digital contracts can be retrieved anywhere, which means that you can always get your hands on the document you need in minutes. This leads to the next point.
Easy contract auditing
Contract auditing—checking the details of a contract to confirm all parties are in compliance—is the most overlooked part of contract management. Since contracts stored in filing cabinets are hard to find, most companies don’t bother reviewing contracts on a regular basis to make sure everything is going smoothly.
Digital contracts can be tagged with multiple different keywords, for example, the company name, contract type, and year of the contract, so that they can be found in seconds. This allows companies to review documents regularly.
Never miss a renewal date
Another great benefit of being able to add multiple tags is that you can set up a fool-proof system to never miss another renewal date. Simply add tags for the month and year of renewal and then search for them with adequate lead time.
For example, if your sales cycle takes three months to complete renegotiations, then on February 1st you can find all documents with the tags “sales contracts” and “May 2022.”
Better completion rates
After your sales team has spent months negotiating a new deal, the last thing you want is for it to fall through between the verbal “yes” and the signed document being returned. Sales are hard enough to come by without missing out on deals with interested prospects because of time-related issues.
Sales agreements are more likely to go through if you remove all of the hurdles to getting the document signed. Asking someone to print off a contract, sign it, scan it, and mail it back is a hurdle. Printing the document off yourself, then waiting days for the mail to deliver the document, and then having the client mail it back is also a hurdle.
Digital contract management eliminates these hurdles. Once the final negotiations are completed, you can send the documents by email or SMS to any relevant parties and have them sign them on their smartphone while you are still sitting in the Zoom call!
Use SignTime as your digital contract management system
With all of the paperwork required, from NDAs and NCAs to sales agreements, it can be difficult to coordinate signatures. It can also be difficult to find and pull a specific agreement to confirm your rights and responsibilities under the agreement.
You can even set up your own digital contract template repository. That way you’ll never have to write another non-disclosure agreement again.
What are common features of digital contract management software?
The following are some of the common features found in digital contract management software. If you are looking for more information on this topic, please take a look at another recent article on the SignTime blog.
- Contract repository: Having a safe and easy way to find and consult documents is probably the most important tool offered by digital contract management software. A contract repository should be highly encrypted and protected with advanced features, such as two-factor authentication (2FA), to protect these important assets. This is one of the many ways in which digital contracts are safer than traditional ones.
- Workflow management: This is a collection of tools that makes negotiating, drafting, signing, and auditing digital contracts a breeze. Some common features are being able to send contracts for e-signature, reminders for specific parties, and seeing who has signed a document.
- Automated alerts: Your software should notify you when you’ve received a contract to e-sign, when other parties have e-signed a contract, or when a contract has not been signed after a certain period of time so that you can send reminders. You should also be able to set up notifications for when contracts come up for renegotiation.
- Contract templates: Uploading, editing, and finalizing digital contract templates is a huge timesaver. This functionality is a must for digital contract management software.
- e-signature: Users should be able to create e-signatures in many different ways. For example, uploading a handwritten signature, using a mouse, and an automated system are all common options. The software should also store e-signatures so they can be used again and again. e-signatures should also track metadata so that they can be authenticated. This is another of the many ways in which digital contracts are safer than traditional ones.
- Bulk sending: Bulk sending is a way to get many documents signed at once. This is especially useful for common HR functions. If you have an updated employment contract or freelancer contract, you can simply send it to all parties at the same time.
- Smartphone and SMS: A lot of the value in digital contracts is removing the barriers to getting a contract signed. Not everyone checks their work email or opens their laptop when at home or on the road. Sending requests for e-signature over SMS and using a smartphone to e-sign a document are great ways to get contracts signed faster.
What are the benefits of digital contract management software?
Digital contract management software has loads of benefits. Here are just a few of them:
- Secure: You have zero reason to worry about the security of digital contracts and e-signatures. Contract repositories are highly encrypted and protected by two-factor authentication (2FA), and e-signatures are saved with metadata that can prove whether they are legitimate or fraudulent.
- Legal: Over 180 countries, including America, Canada, and the members of the EU, have ratified laws stating that e-signatures are treated the same as signatures.
- Fast: Drafting digital contracts from templates is fast. Sending digital contracts for e-signatures is fast. Everything about digital contracts is faster than pen-and-paper ones.
- Shareable: It is easy to share contracts via email or SMS to get them signed.
- Searchable: Digital repositories with advanced filing systems make it easier to find the document you need. With SignTime, you can add multiple tags to documents so you can find them in seconds.
- Backed up: Paper contracts are often stored offsite or in basements where they are vulnerable to theft, fire, flood, or any other force majeure. (I’ve personally been part of a team that has had to rescue documents for a law firm after a sewage backup—not fun!) Having your contracts in the cloud, with signed documents shared via email with every signatory, means you will never lose a document again. SignTime even offers the ability to digitize your current pen-and-paper documents so you can store and access them in the cloud too.
- Scalable: With the ability to bulk send documents, reuse templates, and change plans in seconds, digital contract management software scales with your business. Getting 500 non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) signed can take the same amount of time as 5!
Who uses digital contract management software?
I’ve touched on a few of the teams that use digital contract management software above. HR often has a lot of boilerplate contracts to get signed, so it is a huge timesaver for that department.
The sales team will love how more negotiations lead to wins. Removing the barriers to sales and getting customers to sign during a sales call are great ways to improve your leads-to-win ratio.
Another obvious department that benefits from digital contracts is the legal team. Being able to find and review documents with ease is one major benefit. Another is the templating system. Legal teams will be able to draft and revise templates, store them in the cloud, and access them whenever they are needed.
After these three teams, the benefits become a bit less obvious. However, they are still real and worth considering. Opposite the sales team is the procurement team. Being able to negotiate, get approval, and e-sign a contract in a day instead of over weeks or months means new efficiencies to bringing in new equipment, tools, and resources.
While digital contract management software can help every team, let me end with one last one, the finance team. Finance teams need to be able to review contracts for invoicing and billing. In fact, they can even use the same software to get invoices signed. For the finance team, the transparency gained is one of the biggest draws.
The top trends in digital contract management
Digital contract management has been experiencing rapid uptake over the last few years. This has only been accelerated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the main trends in digital contract management.
The digital transformation
Since the Dot-Com Bubble of the 1990s, the promise of a “digital transformation” has been alive in popular culture. Unfortunately, it has always seemed “3–5 years away.” Many innovations, from email to video conferencing, have promised a paperless office—and yet the amount of paperwork has only increased!
However, underlying the trend, there have been real changes to the way people work. Business travel has become less necessary. Face-to-face meetings have moved from restaurants and cafes to Skype and Zoom. The trend is clear: digital transformation is happening, and it is accelerating.
Newer digital solutions save time and money. They are safe and secure, and, possibly more importantly, companies now accept that they are safe and secure. Digital contract management finds itself square in the middle of the newest round of digital transformations. It offers better, faster, cheaper, and more secure processes than traditional contracting.
Flexible work arrangements
Flexible work arrangements, including hybrid and remote working options, have been on the rise. Early adopter companies started with remote and hybrid systems long before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend. HR and sales teams have been looking for new ways to do their work online. Presently, digital contract management is one of the best tools around to help move processes online and reduce the need for face-to-face meetings.