Agreements are key to the moments that matter, whether you are opening a bank account, accepting a job offer, applying for a building permit, or buying a new home. In today’s on-demand economy, customer expectations are higher than ever before. But in order to deliver on these expectations, organizations must also improve the efficiency of the agreement processes that support customer interactions.

With this challenging business environment in mind, DocuSign commissioned Forrester Consulting to find out just how organizations are automating the ways in which they prepare, sign, act on and manage agreements. With input from 605 business leaders around the globe responsible for document-intensive processes, we’ve gotten an unprecedented look into where businesses of all sizes and across industry verticals are on the path to a modern system of agreement. Although many organizations have taken the first step by implementing electronic-signature technology to remove the bottleneck of requiring a physical signature,  manual processes before and after the signature are still sources of needless costs, wasted time, unnecessary risk, and poor experiences for customers and employees.

Before you dig into the full study, here are three key insights that reveal how important modernizing the agreement process is to achieving business success.

1. Inefficient and manual agreement processes negatively impact business

Respondents in the study cited improving customer experience, strengthening security and compliance and increasing employee productivity as the top priorities for their organizations in the next year. But there’s a problem. Inefficient, manual agreement processes get in the way of achieving these very priorities. Organizations around the globe, from 250 employees to 20,000 found that disconnected, legacy systems of agreement lead to delays in starting projects, poor customer experiences, delays in recognizing revenue, unnecessary costs of printing, mailing and faxing, and abandoned deals.

2. The opportunity to automate exists even before the moment of signature

While many organizations have adopted e-signature as the first step in accelerating the agreement process, there’s room for improvement before the agreement is sent out for signature. Forrester research found 90% of agreements are still prepared manually, even when organizations may already have some or all of the information required for the agreement in their existing records. Asking customers for information they have previously provided wastes time, and creates a frustrating and impersonal experience. Digitally advanced firms prepare agreements from templates, automatically integrating customer information from systems of record, and leverage legal clause libraries to minimize review cycles and get to signature faster.

3. And it continues throughout the life of the contract

The final stages of the agreement lifecycle which include storing, managing, and ultimately retiring agreements are the phases in which many organizations have the least sophisticated processes. Businesses rely on multiple systems to ensure seamless, end-to-end workflow, but the result is that agreements can reside in any number of repositories. Organizations must be able to quickly find and understand what is in their agreements in order to answer questions, respond to inquiries and audits in a timely manner, track non-standard commitments and understand operational risks that lie within any subset of agreements. And yet respondents cited numerous challenges when managing completed agreements.

Find out where your organization lies along the agreement modernization spectrum by downloading The State of Systems of Agreement, 2019.  

For more than 15 years, DocuSign has been helping organizations accelerate and simplify how they do business. We started by defining and leading the electronic signature category. More recently, we’ve broadened our vision to help modernize the world’s systems of agreement. The DocuSign Agreement Cloud digitally transforms how you do business via contracts and other types of agreements. Choose from more than a dozen applications and more than 350 integrations, covering the entire agreement process—from preparing to signing, acting on, and managing agreements. 

Read the full study.