Solving Modern Procurement Challenges with Intelligent Tools

Today’s most innovative procurement teams are using technology to navigate an ever-changing landscape. Unexpected disruptions and regulations are common, requiring agile responses to allow an organization to make the most of its purchases. Docusign Agreement Cloud for Procurement is built specifically for forward-looking teams that are using new technologies to build an intelligent, agile workflow. 

In this post, we’ll examine some of the obstacles that prohibit today’s procurement functions from operating efficiently. For each hurdle, we’ll also discuss the benefits of incorporating AI technology and explore the ways that intelligent procurement solutions can provide the maximum value possible to an organization.

Agreement access

In order to search through contracts for certain provisions or specific language, those contracts need to be accessible. In reality, few businesses have all of their contracts stored in a single, universally accessible contract repository. This can make finding an agreement extremely difficult. According to IACCM, the majority of large-scale enterprises have a minimum of five different contract repositories, meaning that their repository is decentralized and spread over multiple solutions, often with varying levels of functionality and a limited ability to share and synchronize information. Additionally, standard procurement suites and contract repositories often lack the capabilities for organizations to efficiently onboard legacy contracts. Further, many solutions also don’t offer a way for users to generate robust, contract-specific metadata that can be used to efficiently analyze such contracts to help meet new and dynamic business and regulatory demands.

Docusign Insight brings together agreements, regardless of how and where they’re stored, into a single, centralized, searchable database — whether originating from Docusign eSignature and CLM, ERPs, file shares or repository tools like Box, Dropbox, OpenText and Sharepoint. Even images of documents can be converted into searchable agreements using built-in optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. With complete access to all of these agreements, procurement teams have increased confidence that they can find important contract terms that they need to answer business and legal questions.

Contract accuracy and trust

Even organizations that have solved the centralized storage problem still run into issues with varying levels of trust in the agreements. Human-entered metadata can lead to errors, inconsistent quality and incomplete descriptions, all of which can lessen an employee's faith in the quality and accuracy of the information stored in a centralized system. This problem increases when contracts originate from a third party. Such third party agreements often use that third party’s own template with unique clauses, different terminology and varying clarity. With agreements originating from multiple companies and stored in different systems and file types (some of which are not even searchable), procurement professionals confront opaqueness that reduces their trust in the results of searches.

For contracts that have been created by different parties and systems, Insight analyzes agreements automatically using multi-faceted AI processing—a combination of natural language processing, latent semantic indexing and other machine learning methodologies. It enables procurement teams to search and filter agreements by concepts rather than mere keywords, finding relevant results even where narrow search terms do not appear. The result is a huge step forward in eliminating errors and inconsistencies caused by human-entered data. New agreements, that are generated with Docusign CLM and Docusign Insight, can be built from templates, producing uniform, easy-to-search documents. All of these improvements reduce manual work, minimize potential mistakes and make contracts easier for procurement professionals to analyze.

Reporting needs

To explain the impact of their work to executives and the rest of their organizations, procurement teams need to be able to generate reports. This is a critical part of transforming the procurement function from tactical executors to strategic business partners. It’s not enough for the team to store and search their contracts, they need to be able to explain the impact of that process to the rest of the organization so they can emerge as a leader. It’s also valuable for procurement teams to measure their own performance. Regular reporting can help the team identify strengths and weaknesses that would be hard to pinpoint otherwise. 

Insight provides easily configurable, custom dashboards for impactful reporting. Built-in data visualization technology empowers teams to generate interactive reports showing critical terms without specialized training or coding skills. For the procurement team, it’s incredibly valuable to be able to spot anomalies and detect trends with an easy-to-understand, graphical view into key agreement metrics.

To learn more about today’s procurement challenges and find out how to solve them with Insight, download our Smart Solutions for Agile Procurement whitepaper. It’s full of details about how groundbreaking new technology can be built into procurement workflows to make that team a strategic driver of any business.