Contract Automation 101: A Beginners Guide
When your business grows, you’re bound to experience some growing pains.
In fact, World Commerce and Contracting estimated that pains like increased paperwork, a packed deadline calendar, and more complicated contracts cost businesses an average of 9% of their total yearly revenue.
This is a natural part of growth, but there are things you can do to take back control of your processes. Contract automation helps solve some of the big questions that can come from quick growth.
It’s only natural to worry about errors. “What if we use the wrong version of this contract?” or “What if the information doesn’t end up in the format I want?” But the good news is, contract automation tools can help eliminate the chances of that happening.
What is Contract Automation?
Contract automation is the process of developing, managing, and storing legal agreements online. This process upholds the vital link between your business and your customer. Contract automation simplifies and expedites the legal agreement process, which is crucial to efficiency and long-term maintenance.
How Does Contract Automation Work?
Contract automation software steers the entire process for you, allowing you to execute contracts faster and build better relationships between stakeholders. Digitally streamlining the process means contracts are moving through the system on auto-pilot, creating end-to-end visibility without supervising each step along the way. Now you can focus on collaborating with potential partners and deepening relationships with vendors, customers, and your employees by making negotiations quick and easy. You’ll make your legal and finance departments happy, too, since contract automation software enables everyone to more easily manage the risks every business faces.
Contract automation works using a combination of eSignatures, documents, communication tools, and workflows. In some cases, automation can also be used to generate a contract using data collected via a form or using data from a connected CRM. A typical workflow under contract automation would look something like this:
- A contract is generated
- The contract is sent to the signers
- A signer is notified it’s time to sign
- Once signed, the contract is routed back to the sender for review
- The completed document is stored in the sender’s CRM
Depending on the unique pieces of your processes, some of the steps may look different. But the essentials of contract automation are the reduction of human touchpoints, aside from the need to review and sign.
Contract automation has applications across industries and departments. Some of the most popular users include:
For sales, automating the collection of sales contracts leads to quicker close rates, improves customer experience, and ensures the right information is shared the first time.
Contract automation helps human resources team members work more efficiently too by automating crucial new hire paperwork. Non-compete agreements, employment contracts, and every other document that goes into an onboarding packet can be taken digitally so that HR team members can focus on helping employees.
For operations, filing contractor paperwork and paperwork to keep businesses going can be tough, especially when compliance is a top concern. But, contract automation tools come complete with compliance and security measures built in for no nonsense paperwork collection.
Finance teams run on contracts that power loan processes, stock agreements, and the onboarding of new clients. Contract automation allows finance teams to quickly create documents and send them for signature.
The creation of NDAs, bill of sale documents, and other agreements can be streamlined for legal teams with the help of automation.
RFPs and RFIs are a breeze for procurement teams with the help of contract automation, eliminating the need to create these documents from scratch every time.
HIPAA-compliant documents are important for healthcare professionals. Automating patient contracts takes the stress out of staying in compliance for faster diagnosis and treatment.
Contract automation also benefits real estate agents and their employees, by accelerating close times on the purchase of property with easy contract signing.
9 Benefits of Contract Automation
1. Ability to Run a More Efficient Business
Once you’re ready to roll on a contract, there’s no time to waste. Every business owner knows that time is money, and every minute wasted on printing, copying, reviewing, and signing paper contracts is a minute that could be spent earning revenue.
Contract automation with Docubee skips all of that, making contracts readily accessible online. You never need to have the “which version is this” conversation again–since email PDF ping-pong will be a thing of the past. The most current version of the document is on screen and ready for you, making redlining easier than ever before.
And it’s not only late-stage contracts that get a boost: make drafting agreements a breeze with a contract template that matches your project. The parties involved can mark up a proposed deal with comments and suggestions. All suggestions are tracked and then can be accepted and/or rejected by the other party. No more swapping emailed versions or waiting for snail mail. Plus, with legally binding eSignatures you can negotiate and close within the same process, in one online platform.
2. Reduced Risks for Your Business
Eliminating paper documents and reducing back-and-forth significantly lowers the risk of mistakes in contract completion and sending. With auto-populated information and templates with clearly-labeled required fields, you’re reducing the chance for costly errors–or missing information–in your contracts.
3. Better Transparency into Business
The agreement details between your business and a stakeholder are easy for everyone involved to see whenever they need to. With end-to-end visibility and workflow tracking, your stakeholders will always know where you are in the process and can quickly see all contract activities and contract versions.
This increased real-time transparency means your team will always have up-to-date information and, with all contract activities completed on one platform, bottlenecks and delays can easily be identified and eliminated. Docubee provides your business with relevant data throughout the process, providing valuable insight into your workflow–information you can leverage to improve your day-to-day practices.
4. More Secure Business
Securing your business should be a top priority. Luckily, using the right contract automation tool makes doing this a no-brainer. Here are some ways Docubee keeps customers protected:
eSign Act 2000 Compliance
eSignatures are a must-have in the world of online documentation. They are legally binding and secure–especially important for healthcare, sales, and educational settings, where data compliance is of the utmost importance. Signatures collected through Docubee are eSign Act 2000 compliant, the gold standard for digital signatures.
Docubee is also UETA compliant, which is a law granting the same legal status to electronic signatures as wet ink signatures.
SOC 2 compliance is not something that all contract automation tools have, but Docubee does. This voluntary compliance is important as it governs the way in which client data is stored. Under SOC 2, client data must be secure, accessible, confidential, possess processing integrity, and guarantee privacy.
For schools and educational institutions, FERPA compliance is a requirement. FERPA requirements ensure student data is kept safe from unauthorized parties, while keeping data available to authorized people like parents who may request data through the proper channels. Docubee allows users to segment access to data, making us a safe and FERPA compliant contract automation solution for the education sector.
CCPA was created to protect consumer data and give people control over how businesses are sharing their personal info. Data collected through Docubee is CCPA compliant.
HIPAA compliance is one of the most important of all, whether you are in the healthcare industry or not. HIPAA governs the way in which patient data is handled and has two key components: data must be kept secure from unauthorized parties, and it must be readily accessible to authorized parties who go through the proper channels to request such data. Failure to adhere to HIPAA can result in hefty fines. Luckily, Docubee is a fully HIPAA-compliant tool that keeps patient data under tight lock and key.
5. Meet Your Deadlines
If your business misses a deadline, it’s likely due to workflow delay or simple oversight. With automated notifications, Docubee reminds users of important dates, like upcoming contract renewals and deadlines. You can also provide personalized reminders by reassigning, resending, and generating custom links.
Customizable escalations allow you to delegate individual steps in the process, ensuring that your contracts don’t pile up on one reviewer’s lengthy to-do list. Distributing tasks among the team ensures the contract keeps moving through the workflow.
6. Integrate with Your Existing IT
Docubee integrates with your other IT systems to make accessing the documents you need easy. The automated contract is a critical part of any business’s customer relationship management and document management strategies. Integrating contract automation into an existing CRM system, such as Salesforce, makes life easier for your salespeople, eliminating the need to re-enter data. They’ll also have quick access to the latest executed contracts. Integrating with your document management system ensures that your contracts are automatically stored in the appropriate data system.
In addition to open APIs and integrations, you can connect your systems to Docubee with webhooks. Creating a webhook for Docubee in Zapier opens the door to more than 200 application integrations, including Trello, Smartsheet, Airblade, and more.
7. Improve Business 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 reduces the risk of embarrassing mistakes. Efficiency and accuracy increases the value of your business’s brand and builds trust between parties–a key competitive advantage that creates long-lasting relationships and ensures repeat business.
Your employees will appreciate the automated contract process just as much as your customers and vendors. Internal stakeholders can forget about chasing down signatures and scouring inboxes for updated contract versions and statuses. They can easily see where a draft agreement is in the process and set reminders to ensure all contracts are signed on time.
8. Automate Approvals
It’s easy to set up approval workflows that reduce back-and-forth communication and the ongoing search for signatures. And, with conditional logic, including if/then branching and parallel branching, you can specifically pair users with the contracts they need to approve.
9. Build a Repeatable Process
Once you’ve set up one contract automation workflow in Docubee, it’s easy to replicate the setup for other workflows. You never have to recreate the wheel, saving valuable time and frustration. Minor tweaks and customizations can adapt your processes for different clients. Our flexible integrations allow you to automatically pull company data. Docubee makes workflow setup easy, and we have plenty of template construction tips for you.
Features of Contract Automation Software
There are many advantages of contract management software that vary from saving time, saving resources, and helping pare down complicated processes. Among the most impactful include:
It’s not just about automating your contracts, it’s about automating all of the pieces that go along with it. Contract automation allows you to automate routing and all tasks that support your contracts, such as the emails and notifications needed to get signatures, and the routing of completed documents to the proper storage locations.
Like creating documents from scratch? Yea, we didn’t think so. Contract automation software like Docubee features a template library or pre-built document workflows you can customize to fit your needs.
Integrations with Other Systems
You shouldn’t be spending extra time exporting and re-uploading completed documents to the other apps you use. Instead, pick a tool like Docubee that comes complete with thousands of integrations. Documents sent through Docubee can be stored in your CRM or App of choice upon completion.
Auto-Filling of Contract Data
Using previously collected info or data from your CRM, Docubee allows you to generate documents or pre-fill data to save customers from repeat entries.
Docubee: Your Contract Automation Workflow Solution
Docubee makes contract automation easy. With templatized workflows, flexible integrations, and dynamic delivery methods, you’ll get contracts signed faster and make your business stand out.
Ready to automate contracts at your business? Drop us a line.