Using Agreement Technology for Procurement Source-to-Pay Workflows

Even in the best of times, the procurement process can be complex and time consuming. In the wake of ongoing supply chain disruptions, shipping delays, and labor shortages, procurement teams at enterprise companies may now find their tasks overwhelming to say the least. In these adverse conditions, procurement teams can’t take the chance of submitting risky vendor contracts in the race to secure suppliers or missing out on essential materials due to a protracted contracting process. Instead, procurement teams can use technology solutions to achieve lasting agility, streamline the process of expanding vendor relationships, and set their business up for long-term success.

In a period of supply volatility and logistics obstacles, businesses who adopt digital procurement tools can enjoy productivity and security benefits that have immediate impact–and outlive supply chain disruptions. No matter your needs, the source-to-pay agreement technology from Docusign can help procurement professionals throughout the entire procurement lifecycle, from sourcing to contract analytics.

Let’s take a closer look at each phase within the process to see how procurement teams can benefit from agreement tools:

  • Sourcing suppliers
  • Vendor risk management
  • Vendor contracting
  • Ethical sourcing strategies
  • Contract analytics

Sourcing Suppliers

Whether expanding your relationship with an existing vendor or beginning a relationship with a new one, the sourcing process involves the thorough vetting of vendor documents to discern whether they can accommodate a business’s supply needs, budget, and timeline. Through a seamless process of preparing paperwork, gathering signatures, and managing the status of sourcing documents, Docusign products streamline vendor screening and allow procurement teams to strategically source suppliers.

Using the full range of Docusign tools, procurement professionals can analyze, send, and sign important sourcing documents from one centralized platform with few manual steps. AI analysis allows for the efficient review of contracts while an intuitive e-signature quickly captures vendor consent from virtually any mobile device. Here are a few examples of contracts used in the sourcing process that procurement teams can more easily manage with Docusign tools:

  • Requests for proposals (RFPs)
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
  • Vendor applications
  • Bidding documents
  • Internal approvals
  • Waivers
  • Memos of understanding

In times when labor shortages and supply disruptions increase the need for quality vendor relationships, procurement teams can use Docusign eSignature and Docusign CLM to quickly review a supplier's ability to deliver the goods they need at the price and time they need them. With greater visibility, control, and ease, procurement teams who take advantage of this technology will be well poised to adapt to changes in the supply chain and protect your business’s bottom line.

Vendor Risk Management

Once procurement teams have selected the vendor you would like to work with or ensured that your existing vendor has the capacity to fulfill your new supply requirements, it’s also important to assess vendor risk. According to Docusign research, minimizing risk in third-party contracts and understanding the risks in existing contracts remain two of the top contract management challenges in 2022. Using the end-to-end agreement solutions from Docusign, procurement teams can lean on a simpler process of more accurate risk management.

From multi-factor identification to risk scoring, Docusign eSignature and Docusign CLM offer comprehensive security measures to manage risk in vendor documents. Products such as Docusign Analyzer use AI technology to limit risk exposure in vendor contracts by highlighting high-risk clauses and suggesting pre-approved replacements. Not only do Docusign tools help root out and decrease potential risk, but Docusign eSignature and Docusign CLM meet and often exceed the highest e-signature security standards for limiting third-party contract risk.

Procurement teams using eSignature can maintain full visibility of the audit trail and take advantage of security features such as data encryption. When it comes to signing contracts such as NDAs and data processing agreements, procurement professionals can be rest assured that contracts executed with eSignature will keep important vendor data and procurement details private.

Vendor Contracting

From mismanaged clauses to the lengthy contract negotiations, the traditional vendor contracting process has been rife with issues that hinder your ability to move quickly and assuredly. Docusign agreement technology improves the process of generating, negotiating, and signing vendor contracts through an easy-to-use e-signature, powerful AI technology for analyzing clauses, and the automation of contract workflows. 

When procurement teams use contract tools like Docusign CLM, intuitive digital signing and the intelligent automation of contract generation and approvals shorten the contracting process, speed up negotiations, and save companies money.

In 2020, a survey by Forrester found that Docusign CLM reduced contract turnaround times by 20 days on average and saved interviewee organizations $1,420 per contract.

Procurement teams reported the time-saving efficiencies of Docusign CLM enabled them to take on more strategic procurement roles. Here is a sample of the documents procurement teams can review, sign, and approve faster through Docusign CLM:

  • Master service agreements (MSAs)
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Vendor contracts
  • Stocking agreements
  • Partnership agreements

When all parties have signed vendor contracts, Agreement Actions, a Docusign eSignature feature, will even automate post-signature workflows by automatically uploading vendor documents to a cloud storage provider such as DropBox or Google Drive. From source-to-contract, Docusign solutions enable your procurement teams to streamline workflows, reduce manual steps in the paperwork and negotiation process, and eliminate time-consuming tasks.

Ethical Sourcing Strategy

As tighter government regulations and greater customer awareness place a spotlight on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics, many companies want to ensure that their vendors uphold sustainable and ethical sourcing practices. Docusign agreement technology supports procurement efforts to create sustainable supply chains by expediting the process of adding ESG terms to long-standing vendor relationships and enabling vendor compliance monitoring.

Without digital procurement tools, adding ESG protections to existing vendor contracts would necessitate a drawn-out process of creating and approving new paper-based documents. Docusign agreement technology enables a more sustainable and efficient process of upholding ethical sourcing by moving the whole agreement process onto a centralized digital platform. From here, procurement teams can prepare, sign, and send updated documents with ESG criteria without the need for any paper. After documents have been signed, Docusign CLM enables organizations to monitor vendor observance of sustainability clauses by using AI assistance to flag non-compliance.

Whether managing compliance for regulations like the Paris Agreement or simply ensuring ethical environmental and labor practices from vendors, Docusign helps you manage the entire contract process—promoting more productive ESG efforts and vendor compliance transparency.

Contract Analytics

Though source-to-pay covers the bulk of the procurement lifecycle, it does leave out one important step in the process. After sourcing materials, analyzing vendor risk, negotiating vendor contracts, and adding ESG clauses, procurement professionals continue interacting with supplier documents in order to report on the vendor performance metrics outlined in the contracts. Instead of manually searching through volumes of vendor paperwork to gather business data, compliance objectives, and other contract analytics, procurement teams can use Docusign contract analytics to instantly see what’s in their contracts and gather valuable vendor insights.

Docusign products enable procurement teams to make the most of their vendor relationships by centralizing document storage and harnessing the power of AI to intelligently filter through any volume of contracts. Teams can track renewals, reduce revenue leakage, and report on key contractual terms. Not only will gathering rapid contract analytics save procurement professionals time and money, but real-time visibility and AI technology will allow them to better understand the content of their contracts and identify ways to minimize risk. The AI contract analytics capabilities of Docusign Insight will even integrate with your company’s existing procurement tools such as SAP Ariba—allowing for seamless collaboration across platforms.

Lead more efficient procurement workflows

As your procurement teams navigate through these times of unreliable supply and labor shortages, digital agreement tools can help them reduce contracting times, limit risk, and conduct comprehensive vendor management. When suppliers face shortages and shipping shutdowns halt the delivery of goods, the intuitive and secure procurement tools of Docusign CLM will offer you greater control throughout the procurement process and transform your vendor partnerships. And as your company’s supply needs grow and vendor priorities shift, Docusign tools will be with you every step of the way to help update your vendor contracts and facilitate secure signing.

Ready to streamline the journey from source-to-pay? Learn more about Docusign for Procurement.