Heidrick & Struggles Transforms Client Contracting With Docusign CLM and Salesforce

  • >85%

    Faster signature cycle
  • Faster time to revenue
  • Improved client experience

In the world of executive search and consulting, Heidrick & Struggles is at the top of the game. The firm serves 70% of the Fortune 1000 across nearly every industry and sector around the globe.

Amid the chaos of COVID-19, companies everywhere appointed a record number of CEOs in 2021. “After the sudden slow down with COVID, we were considering how we could operate more effectively,” said Catherine Baderman, Vice President of Business Operations. “As it turns out, we delivered a record year, with each quarter being better than the last.”

Despite many offices operating virtually, Heidrick & Struggles found that executive search and consulting operations delivery can be just as seamless, if not more so, than it was before the pandemic—and that’s because of digital technologies like the Docusign Agreement Cloud. 

Staying ahead of the digital curve

Heidrick & Struggles’ digital transformation began long before Zoom meetings and working from home became the norm. “We were already down the Docusign path before the COVID-19 pandemic, so we were very lucky that we were ahead of that curve,” said Baderman. “COVID really accelerated adoption among those who were late adopters.” The firm first implemented Docusign eSignature to streamline internal processes that had become extremely unwieldy and time consuming because they were managed the old-school way—printing, scanning and shuttling documents from office to office. Going digital shaved about a week off of the signature-gathering process per agreement. 

What started in finance and operations soon expanded to HR for new hire agreements and to legal for corporate documents like board meeting minutes, resolutions and statutory agreements—”things we used to send around the world in FedEx envelopes,” said Baderman. “It’s all done electronically now.”

Improving the client experience while accelerating time to revenue

While Heidrick & Struggles streamlined internal processes, there was still a flurry of documents being passed back and forth between the firm, client companies and even prospective candidates via email. “We started to think more about: How can we service our clients and candidates better?” said Baderman. The firm had already transformed the way it engaged with clients during executive searches—swapping out static, multi-page documents with a modern, collaborative portal that enables clients to view candidate information in real time. 

Digitizing the agreement process was the next logical step in Heidrick & Struggles’ mission to improve the customer experience. One added benefit for the firm was faster time to billing. “Being able to get a contract back as soon as it’s signed and have it automatically flow into our CRM was a huge win for us because we need that to happen before billing commences,” said Baderman. 

Previously, when a client would send a signed agreement back via email or post, an executive assistant at the firm had to manually attach it to the Salesforce record and inform the contract administration team. That workflow happens entirely without human touch now—and  automated alerts are used to notify the team when a signed contract is ready to go to billing.

With CLM, we eliminated a lot of touchpoints. As a result, our invoicing is more efficient, which assists in recognizing revenue and improving our working capital.
Catherine Baderman
Vice President of Business Operations
Heidrick & Struggles

Streamlining the end-to-end agreement process

Docusign eSignature usage had been steadily going up every year, but it wasn’t until the firm streamlined the end-to-end agreement process with Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) that adoption really took off. “People were creating forms and pulling documents into eSignature, but the tool wasn’t yet embedded in our core process,” said Baderman. 

When Docusign launched CLM, the firm saw it as an opportunity to overhaul its entire agreement process. “Once we brought in CLM to automate all of the other pieces—including contract generation, approvals, storage and ongoing management—we saw a massive jump in the number of agreements going out to clients through Docusign,” said Baderman. 

Connecting the entire contract lifecycle with CLM brought a number of benefits and opportunities for the firm, including:

  • A single source of truth: Everyone can now access the most up-to-date templates and documents.
  • Greater speed: Salesforce data is automatically populated in agreements, saving sales users time and reducing errors.
  • Improved visibility: Stakeholders can see where their contracts are in the approval process at any time.
  • Easy accessibility: Agreements are accessible from the Salesforce opportunity or CLM’s searchable repository.
  • Deeper insights: Centralizing agreements in CLM paves the way for AI, enabling the firm to glean deeper insights from its contract portfolio.

For Baderman and her team, one of the greatest advantages is the workflow flexibility. Before, the firm had been using a tool built on Salesforce to orchestrate contract approvals, but making changes to the workflow became exceedingly complex. “Any change we wanted to make required weeks of regression testing,” said Baderman. “With CLM, it’s a much simpler and faster process.”

Going beyond the contract

Today, Docusign is a fundamental part of “the Heidrick toolkit.” “Every new hire gets Salesforce, Word, Box and Docusign,” said Baderman. “We’re very fortunate to have about a dozen Docusign champions across the world who can help them get trained and up to speed quickly.” 

As Docusign adoption continues to surge in what Baderman described as a “classic hockey-stick curve,” the firm has several new projects powered by the Agreement Cloud. HR is using eSignature to streamline onboarding and end-of-year evaluations. And project managers are leveraging customized forms in CLM to streamline service delivery for large, multinational clients. “We’re becoming more creative with how we use Docusign,” said Baderman.