Accelerating your contracts from dotted line to bottom line.
In part one of this two-part blog series, we looked at some of the issues around self-service contracts currently – the need for digitization and automation – and how those are impacting organizations today. In part two, you’ll learn how (and why) businesses are taking inspiration from consumer-facing processes to speed up self-service contracting, and what’s involved with your own digital transformation.
III. Case study from the real world: How the airline industry embraced self-service contracting, and how other businesses are now joining in, too.
Self-service is a concept that most of us are familiar with — consider how often you pump your own gas or pay automatically at parking facilities, for instance. However, the airline industry is what really took it to the next level.
When you reach the head of the airline check-in line these days, you often see a row of kiosks — free-standing computer screens — instead of customer service representatives. This pioneering self-service process helps speed hundreds of thousands of passengers through a complex logistical system of ticketing (i.e., contracting) and registering every day.
While airlines still have employees available for assisting with issues, baggage, upgrades, etc., switching to self-service check-in kiosks allows the airlines to save enormously by redirecting personnel resources to more productive areas.
The self-service model has also become ubiquitous in other consumer-focused industries, including fast food. Popular outlets like Panera, McDonald’s and Wendy’s are investing heavily in this area where, like airlines, self-service results in labor savings by deploying staff to other areas focusing on value-adds like customer service.
Now, the corporate B2B world is increasingly using B2C models for understanding how to streamline cost structures and improve internal customer service to its employees and third parties. Companies managing thousands of contracts understand it’s inevitable that casual business users will at some point need access to a corporate contract management system.
IV. How to begin the self-service contracting process.
Self-service contracting means giving employees the tools to initiate contracts (say laptops, desktops or mobile devices) with pre-approved templates, language and clause libraries. This should include the ability to make slight modifications to contracts or provide input on necessary areas, but with appropriate guardrails in place that give senior executives and legal teams the compliance control they need.
The core components and keys to success include:
Mobile Capability – Mobile access enables users to create, manage and execute buy-side and sell-side contracts wherever and whenever. The flexibility of instant access simplifies getting an automated contract process in motion, speeding and simplifying stakeholder reviews and approvals, enables editing and even executing contracts.
Template Library – Pre-approved templates are an critical to self-service contract success. Templates for specific contract types and scenarios give users a better understanding of the contracts based on their area (for example, procurement or sales). Templates also create the necessary guardrails that frees users up to manage the contract process according to their business needs, without fear of creating errors or requiring legal team involvement.
E-Signing – E-signature capability – such as DocuSign – are requisite for achieving agile contract management. Digital signatures simplify workflow, improve audit tracking and make it possible to save on printing costs.
Workflow – Pre-configured processes, template libraries, e-sign and mobile all add up to improved access and visibility, but the real winner here is accelerated workflow. Intelligent workflows let contract managers, stakeholders and even legal to get involved in the contract process when and how they are needed – amendments, negotiations, oversight, etc. It ensures proper authorities are alerted and aware when special exceptions to self-service require.
So how would all this work? A typical example would be a request by contract business users answering web-based questionnaires that guide them through the contract request process. If their answers are complete and compliant, the contract management system generates a contract document that is ready for wet signature or E-signature. Incomplete, non-compliant, or non-standard requests are routed for review to lawyers or contract managers who are now free to focus on these contracts instead of drafting routine documents.
Not only does self-service increase the productivity of business and legal teams, it also reduces risk by standardizing and centralizing contract templates. Centralizing the storage of generated contracts and associated metadata and approval processes also improves compliance.
Typical use cases to consider in these examples are:
- A sales rep requiring a sales agreement to be put in front of a prospect;
- A customer service agent providing the most up to date service or product agreement to a customer;
- An IT manager providing a consulting agreement to IT contractors for a contingent labor engagement;
- A business user getting an NDA executed to onboard a vendor for a service contract;
- An employee executing a benefits document; or,
- A business manager getting a lease agreement in place for expanding office space.
As you consider contract management technology, look at use cases that make the most sense for self-service approaches. As can often be the case with CLM, anticipating a wider universe of users and catering to that need can speed up your ROI. By looking at the next generation of technology, decision makers can consider this important evolution of self-service as the next stepping stone for improving digitization efforts.
By enabling a wider number of users to be involved in the contract management process, while maintaining the controls necessary for improving compliance and mitigating risk, will result in faster, more efficient and cost-effective contracts – from dotted line all the way to improved bottom lines.
If you’re ready to write your own agile contract management success story, schedule a personalized, no-obligation demonstration of contract management on the Determine Cloud Platform.