Driving legal efficiencies by digitising contract management

Whether you’re an in-house legal practitioner or you consult to companies on legal matters, you’ll no doubt have experienced how rapidly things have changed in the contracting space over the past two years. Driven largely by the pandemic, organisations have been quick to shift to eSignatures for contract approvals. But eSignatures are just the beginning.  

As we explored in this recent webinar with legal experts from Fujitsu, leaders are leaping ahead with the digitisation of the entire contract lifecycle. They’re doing it to reduce risks, increase transparency, and streamline all aspects of the contract management process – and it’s clearly working.

Bye, bye, bottom drawer

Gone are the days of legal documents going straight into the bottom drawer after being signed. Now, there’s growing recognition that valuable business information is embedded in legal agreements. Leading companies are unlocking this value by digitally transforming their systems of agreement, and they’re empowering their legal departments to provide strategic support and insights to the company. 

Increasingly, legal departments are driving contract transformation to provide faster workflows, better data, and the ability to scale and get real-time recommendations. These transformations are helping overcome common challenges like:

  • Inefficient, manual processes that impact speed and contract quality
  • Information siloes that limit access to data and insights
  • Unbalanced risk management, leading to an inability to contain and control risk without slowing the pace of business

When contracts were managed manually, it took an average of seven full time employees worth of manual labour to generate, negotiate and locate contracts (when dealing with around 500 contracts per year). Digitisation reduces contract processing times by 83% – so no wonder legal teams are keen to get involved. 

Hello, transparency and speed

Richard Keenan is the Senior Legal Counsel, Fujitsu. In the webinar, he talks about how Fujitsu is using Docusign for legal contracts. Initially, it was a practical response to the changes brought about during the pandemic, particularly for meeting the requirements of the Corporations Act Section 127, where all Directors must sign deeds. Now, they’re rolling out digitisation and legal technology in other areas to drive efficiencies and free up its legal team’s time to focus on more complex matters. 

As Richard says, the benefits of this digital transformation are two-fold. First, the data coming out of an automated process that’s set up well can clearly demonstrate the value of the legal function. And, secondly, it provides a crystal clear trail of the legal process, which the person requesting legal support can easily check back on throughout the process. 

He recommends that legal teams start with a straightforward use case – such as an NDA or confidentiality agreement – and take the time to educate all teams on the process. “Like any investment, you need to spend time on it, do the work upfront, and create clear playbooks and guidance,” he said. After all, “The business won’t like it if you try to automate legal activities and the work coming back isn’t up to scratch.” 

Richard also emphasised the importance of breaking old habits. “If you’re going to gather data, to make it useful then everyone needs to use the same tool. If only some are using it, and there’s leakage around the side, it devalues the benefit. Get your Head of Legal to mandate it at a business level to help drive adoption.”

Want to learn more? Watch the webinar now, or get in touch to discuss how your company can leverage AI to unlock new and powerful insights from your contracts, and respond to market changes faster.