“Get them to sign on the line that is dotted”. Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross knows the importance of signing contracts.
If you’re providing any sort of service in the business world, there will come a point in the process when your customer needs to sign something for you. This is especially true if you’re providing B2B services.
The challenge is that the contract process can be lengthy and slow down negotiations to a halt. Smart business owners are using a contract workflow management system to avoid this issue.
Applying workflow management software to your contract process can be a game-changer. What exactly can it do for you? Well, that’s what we’re going to cover in today’s article.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t implemented a contract management platform in your business already.
So, stick around and read on with us. There’s plenty of information to show you.
Defining the Contract Workflow
Everyone is familiar with the process of getting a signature on a contract. While that is part of the contract workflow, there is more to it than just a signature.
The workflow for your contract process involves everything from drafting the document to getting the final signatures. This entire process is a crucial task for any B2B company. While it’s true that the process is about getting the paperwork right, other factors come into play.
Contracts are more than just words on a page. These documents set the wheels in motion and hold your team, and your clients, accountable for completing certain commitments. They affect more than just the people at the negotiating table.
To keep everyone on the right track, we can distill the contract workflow process down to five basic steps. The process starts with the creation of the document. Then, you and your team will move into the internal collaboration phase.
This is where everyone comes together on what services and terms the contract will provide to potential clients. From there, the process moves into negotiations, then approvals, and, finally, electronic signatures.
If your management team isn’t careful, this process can be a drain on your business. Without developing a streamlined, repeatable process, contract workflow management can become a monster. Left unchecked, it will start to suck up a lot of your team’s time and energy.
Contract Workflow Management Tips
We’re sure you can agree that making this process as easy as possible will only benefit your business. So, how do we do that? What are the absolute “non-negotiables” that need to remain part of your legal document workflow process?
We’re going to run down a few key things any contract workflow management system should do for you. Keeping these aspects of the process at the forefront of your mind will ensure your system is effective.
Establish Roles and Responsibilities
Every contract has terms. When the document is signed, people will be responsible for certain duties and tasks. Therefore, it’s important to establish these roles and responsibilities from the beginning.
An effective contract workflow management system will help you to do that.
All of the important participants and stakeholders need to be established and their roles need to be clearly defined. Things like who is responsible for templates, who creates templates, and who approves contracts before they’re sent, all need to be discussed.
When your team’s individual roles are clear, that’s when you start to see the benefit of systems.
Establish a Workflow For Approvals
One of the most important steps of your document management process is the approvals process. No matter how you slice it, we’re dealing with legal paperwork here. Everything needs to be airtight and “buttoned-up” before contracts get sent out to clients.
Various members of your team may be part of the creation and negotiation process. But, all contracts should go through a final approval process before leaving your office. Usually, your in-house legal team will be the ones to handle this.
A proper contract workflow management system will notify your legal team that a contract is ready for final approval. There are a variety of methods for this. You can have your system send an email, text, or desktop notification.
The important thing is that you designate someone as the approver and they get notified that the contract is ready for them.
Make E-signing Easy
The contract workflow process can be long enough. Between drafting, review, and redlining, a contract can go back and forth for weeks. Then, the last thing you want to do is make it difficult for your clients or business partners to sign your agreement.
Whichever contract management platform you choose should make signing your documents as simple as possible. Certain platforms will use color-coded signature blocks to help with this process. The important thing is to not underestimate this part of the process.
You might be surprised to learn that a lot of potential deals and sales fall apart inches from the finish line. A lot of the time it has to do with difficulty obtaining contract signatures. Don’t let this happen to you and your team.
Finally, you need to make sure that the contract workflow management platform of your choice can handle organized document management. Document management handles the post-signature part of the contract process.
Who needs to receive a copy of the executed agreement? Does it need to get sent to any external third parties? Where will the contract be stored?
These are all questions that need to be answered after the document is signed. Depending on your industry, you may also have legal requirements governing how you handle contract management. For example, certain professionals like real estate agents need to hold on to paperwork for 5 years after a transaction is completed.
Things like this need to be thought out and built into your team’s post-signature workflow.
The Pen Is Mightier
Contract workflow management is an important part of any business team’s performance. Everyone needs to communicate and collaborate effectively for the process to run smoothly.
If you’re looking for a solution to help your team’s dreams become reality, contact our team at Collavate. We’re happy to answer any questions you have and can provide you with a cloud-based contract management solution that’s right for you.