Automate the Contract Management Process with Docusign CLM Essentials

As organisations grow, contracting teams handle larger stacks of more complex agreements, but usually don’t receive new resources to handle the extra work. The business is expanding to offer more products, hire new employees, find new customers and increase revenue, but contract approvers are stretched to document those activities without the right tools. In the early stages of growth, email inboxes, spreadsheets and local storage will do the job, but those tools break down at scale.

At a certain point, teams mature enough to require a specific technology to perform contract lifecycle management (CLM). However, too often these CLM solutions include a more complex feature set than a growing company needs to get started, which requires more money and implementation time than they have to invest. Organisations are left with a goldilocks problem—forced to choose between no CLM technology at all and a platform with far too many features. There needs to be a middle ground.

Today, we are announcing the availability of Docusign CLM Essentials, a contract management tool specifically built for growing organisations. It has all the tools your team needs to centralise your contracts, standardise agreement processes and eliminate busywork with automation. CLM Essentials is designed to get you started with a CLM solution in weeks not months, offering fast results and the opportunity to expand further if needed.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of CLM adoption, including an overview of the tool and some signs that it’s time for your team to adopt one. As you read through, think about the way your team creates, negotiates, signs and stores contracts today. Ask yourself a few basic questions: Which technologies are used? Who has access to those tools? What problems do you run into? How will your needs change as you continue growing?

What does a CLM tool do?

Before you can make a decision about whether your team can benefit from CLM technology, you need to know what it does. To be brief, CLM simplifies the agreement process by:

  1. Standardising contract work into consistent, repeatable processes
  2. Automating manual contract processes
  3. Centralising contract activity across all parties on a single platform

A CLM tool is one platform that can replace the makeshift workflow of Word documents, inboxes, spreadsheets, local hard drives and other tools that teams have been cobbling together to manage contracts. Those technologies aren’t built to manage contracts and won’t scale as contract volume and complexity increase.

With a CLM tool, any team can quickly organise their library of existing contracts and create a more concrete process to manage all future contracts. It’s an easy way for sales and legal teams to collaborate together with clearly defined contract steps, automated handoffs and less busywork. The result is faster, more secure business transactions.

A basic CLM tool can be used as a standalone solution to assist busy legal teams. It operates as a central hub to perform all contract-related activities: generate new documents, negotiate terms, automate workflows, search through completed contracts and more.

But a CLM isn’t only for legal teams. The technology gets even more effective when integrated with other common business systems. For example, connecting a CLM solution to e-signature technology can make contract completion much faster and less risky by connecting the entire contract process on a single platform. Connecting a CLM solution with a CRM tool (like Salesforce) provides benefits for the sales team by allowing them to complete all their contracting work without ever leaving their favourite everyday tools.

5 signs you need to adopt a CLM solution

Before deciding whether or not your team needs CLM, you need to examine your current contracting process. Consider the types of contracts your organisation handles as well as the tactical steps involved in activities throughout their lifecycles. As you read through the following symptoms of an inefficient contracting system, think about the opportunities that would result from a more efficient contracting platform.

1. Your contracts and processes are complex

In the early stages of a company’s growth, contract volume is low and documents can be managed on an ad hoc basis. As the business expands, many people and systems become involved in the contract process. The contracts themselves also get more complex, with different clauses depending on bundling, discounting, regulations, SKUs and more. If your team is using too many tools (three or more), you’re likely wasting employee time and introducing unnecessary risks.

2. Your contracts aren’t standardised

When contracts aren’t standardised, the team spends far too much time manually editing terms and conditions during negotiations. It’s also time-consuming to search completed contracts to pinpoint risks and opportunities since the terms are different for each agreement. Standard forms result in much more consistent documents. They’re also much easier to create, negotiate, finalise and understand.

3. Your agreements involve multiple stakeholders

Recent Docusign research finds that the average contract at a growing company (fewer than 500 employees) goes through 2.9 versions and 4.4 approvers before it’s finalised. Without a platform specifically designed to manage contracts, it can be unwieldy or even impossible to manage all the negotiations, handoffs and signatures involved in that process.

4. Your contracts need to be analysed and managed after completion

Most business contracts require ongoing analysis and management—whether its tracking obligations and milestones, analysing risk or monitoring vendor spend. Without a CLM solution, it takes more than 2 hours to find a contract and locate a relevant section of terms for reference. With the central storage and search capabilities of a CLM, your team will save a lot of time managing your growing library of agreements

5. You still use ink and paper to sign contracts

If your team still emails contracts out so they can be printed, signed with a pen and then returned via scan or fax, it’s time to upgrade your process. The entire agreement process often moves at the speed of the slowest step, so if you’re still using pen and paper for even a small percentage of your contracts, you’re going to run into problems. Usually the best way to include e-signature in your contract stack is to start with a CLM that has e-signature built in.

What makes Docusign CLM Essentials the right CLM for my team?

CLM Essentials is specifically built for growing companies that are looking for their first contract lifecycle management solution. It’s designed to work as a central hub to standardise contract workflows, automate common steps in that process and organise the archive of completed contracts. With a native integration to the popular Docusign eSignature, CLM Essentials can easily route any contract for approval with just a few clicks.

Because it can be set up in just weeks at a low cost, CLM Essentials speeds up business and reduces risk right away. It’s easy to use on its own or integrate with Salesforce so teams can start collaborating across lines of business in no time. Docusign experts will assist at any point in the implementation process, including a complimentary online training that any user can complete at their own pace.

Essentials is designed to help sales teams close deals faster and give legal teams exactly the right level of oversight to increase compliance and reduce risk. With an intuitive administrative back end, it’s easy to drag and drop a workflow into place and give any user the right level of access. The out-of-the-box templates included in Essentials are created with decades of expertise and best practices research, making it a perfect tool for any team taking the first step in CLM.

For a growing business looking to efficiently automate a complex contract process, CLM Essentials offers all the basic contract lifecycle tools without any functionality that CLM newcomers don’t need yet. When your organisation grows and takes on more complex contracting work, Docusign will grow with you, offering upgrades to more robust CLM technology with just a few clicks.

Watch this video to see CLM Essentials in action: