Thermo Fisher Creates Compliant, Efficient Workflows for Remote Work With DocuSign

  • 75%

    Number of envelopes are completed in less than seven days
  • 2

    weeks average time to complete agreements

The leading supplier of scientific instrumentation, reagents and consumables in the United States, Thermo Fisher is committed to helping customers make the world a cleaner, healthier and safer place. Whether it’s by accelerating life sciences research or increasing productivity in their laboratories, Thermo Fisher ensures that its customers have the tools necessary to accomplish their goals. 

But as a global company with more than 80,000 customers, Thermo Fisher faced challenges when it came to contract management. It relied on paper-based agreements with supply buyers across laboratories, and required that they be printed, scanned, signed and sent to multiple parties for reviews and signatures. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, these manual processes led to delays, productivity loss and a lack of visibility into contract status. When Thermo Fisher’s offices were forced to close and shift to remote operations, relying on this outdated management system became simply unrealistic.

Thermo Fisher recognized the need for a digital solution that would add ease and transparency to its agreement process and adapt it for remote operations. And, because the life sciences industry is heavily regulated, maintaining compliance was another important consideration. With DocuSign, Thermo Fisher found a digital, automated agreement solution that provided efficiency, visibility and compliance. 

Thermo Fisher raises productivity with DocuSign 

Thermo Fisher sought a digital solution that, as Technical Operations Manager Gord Keith put it, “would go beyond the electronic signature. We needed automated movement down the line, from writers to reviewers and approvers.” DocuSign for Life Sciences offered this capability, along with many other features that streamlined the company’s error-prone, inefficient workflows.  

For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Thermo Fisher’s employees to work remotely, they could no longer perform print and manually send contracts. DocuSign replaced the company’s paper contracts with electronic document envelopes, and introduced contactless routing and signing capabilities as well. With this modernized digital workflow in place, employees could send multiple, related agreements to different parties at the same time—and work more productively as a result. 

“Getting this system up and running also allowed us to quickly switch to remote work,” said Keith. “75% of our envelopes are being completed in less than seven days. It used to be weeks.”  

After implementing DocuSign, traditionally time-intensive processes—like creating standard operating procedures (SOPs), initiating change controls or reviewing and approving technical documents—are being completed in a fraction of the time. The average cycle time for SOP documents was reduced from six weeks to two, and initiating change controls now takes less than 10 days, compared to five weeks. 

Thermo Fisher speeds up workflows without sacrificing compliance and accuracy

Prior to DocuSign, Thermo Fisher’s document management processes lacked transparency—a shortfall that not only lengthened agreement cycle times, but also made it harder to perform compliance audits. DocuSign's track and trace capabilities added transparency: “There was no longer any need to track down ‘lost’ documents,” explained Keith. “Additionally, instead of waiting until the end of the day to manually pass documents along, the system could notify the next person in line the minute their action is required.”

DocuSign’s electronic envelope feature helps the company stay compliant as well. Now, each electronic envelope sent by Thermo Fisher holds time-stamped data specifying its final destination, required signatures and current location. This increased visibility and traceability for all contracts. 

Thermo Fisher’s negotiation and approval processes were traditionally conducted in-person, as one-off conversations. These dialogues were difficult to keep track of and audit. With DocuSign, Thermo Fisher replaced its review processes with digital workflows that track and store every change made to a document in a shared, company-wide repository. “Now, we can have multiple parties to post comments, edit, and ask questions directly in the document, while tracking changes with a secure, digital audit trail,” said Keith. 

Ultimately, by creating more efficient workflows and easier validation with DocuSign, Thermo Fisher not only transformed its employees’ work experience, but its customers’ experience as well. Digital agreement processes made it easier for buyers to work with Thermo Fisher, which means a faster time to market for their research or healthcare products.