How Digital Contract Automation Helps In-House Legal Professionals
The need for in-house legal departments to be more effective and efficient in today's increasingly competitive and remote market has never been more important. This is especially true for contract lifecycle management - a critical business function and a cornerstone of how legal teams protect and enable their organizations. Yet, the challenges legal professionals face with contract drafting, searching, negotiation and approvals continue to hinder the outcomes.
Common challenges for legal teams include manual contract generation, a lack of visibility during the drafting and signing processes, an inability to find silo’d contract information, and delayed turnaround times. Legal teams also find themselves duplicating efforts when it comes time to renew a contract and the original agreement— along with the accompanying business and intelligence insights–has been lost. This leads to inconsistent and unbalanced risk management across the organization.
Such pain points can take a significant hit on resources. In DocuSign's recent State of Contract Management research, more than 1,300 professionals reported that it took an average of 29 hours to generate, negotiate, and finalize a single contract. At a benchmark of just 500 contracts a year, that time would amount to the work of seven full-time employees.
The good news is that digitizing your contract management–while it requires an upfront investment in planning and implementation–pays off with tangible results for the company and for your in-house legal teams.
We recently sat down with SAS associate general counsel Kelly Perry and TransUnion legal operations head Natalia Vukasinovic to discuss how DocuSign CLM helps alleviate such burdens for legal departments.
Benefits of making the change to DocuSign CLM
1. Avoiding the silo effect
Like many organizations, TransUnion grew organically through acquisitions. Employees throughout the organization gradually began operating in a silo, and it was a challenge Vukasinovic sought out to help resolve.
Using DocuSign CLM for Salesforce helped build collaboration within multiple teams and departments. It proved especially beneficial to sales teams, who can manage the opportunity lifecycle within Salesforce and facilitate the contracting process through DocuSign. It also gives legal teams visibility into contract requests, status of an agreement and a central location for storage.
“That was absolutely key for us, having that integration,” said Vukasinovic.
2. Saving time
By using DocuSign to connect to systems your business already uses (such as Salesforce) legal teams can reduce errors and facilitate a more efficient process.
More efficiencies can be had by storing pre approved contract templates in a company wide database, which helps, which eliminates the time it takes to draft a new agreement from scratch. Pre-approved language and templates can avoid time consuming review and approvals, while contracts counsel can be assured that the business is adhering to approved terms.
3. Minimizing risks
Pre-execution risk can be managed during negotiation by tracking changes made to a contract through DocuSign Edit functionality, and through consistent contract terms and fall back provisions available directly in a drop down menu in Salesforce or a clause library integrated into MS Word. A modern contract solution should have the capabilities to track every action taken on the contract throughout the entire contract lifecycle, whether the contract is written on your paper or received from a third party. This is much easier to accomplish when versions are linked and reside in a central repository. A robust document history and version comparison can pinpoint incorrect language or changes that require review and approval.
4. Tracking workflows
DocuSign CLM allows users to not only track contract language, but also interactively track workflows. When a person clicks on an agreement within the system, a tab opens that contains status updates. It gives users a high-level overview of a contract’s lifecycle, and allows them to keep tabs on important documents or time-sensitive documents in real time.
6. Rapid Adoption
SAS associate general counsel Kelly Perry leads the design of the organization’s contract management frameworks. The U.S.-based organization began using DocuSign CLM about two weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The results, said Perry, were incredible.
“It was pretty amazing during that period of time to see customers shift globally toward electronic signature and electronic contracting, even in countries where it had previously been a challenge,” Perry said. “And that was really important to SAS, because one of the main changes that we made as we adopted CLM was to move our customers towards click licensing as our default.”
Making the change
About 12 weeks after TransUnion began utilizing DocuSign, it began deploying it internationally, slowly building a global repository of high-volume contracts and agreements.
The international legal organization SAS, which operates in about 50 countries, also took its DocuSign strategy global. It originally went live with its customer contracting workflow in nine countries, and has since expanded to about 30 others.
Whether companies are looking to scale up locally or on a global level, transformation is never easy. There’s on one-size-fits all approach to transitioning, but in every case it’s important to keep the end goal in mind and strategize for the future.