Contract execution takes off within purchasing at leading UK airport

The “Customer Spotlight” blog series shines a light on Docusign customers who are benefiting from digitising their business processes with electronic signature.

This week, we spoke to the purchasing team of a prominent UK airport, who explained how they increased supplier sign-up time by 7x with Docusign.

How were you signing up suppliers before you started using electronic signatures?

We used to have a signing process where we’d send the document via email for a supplier to print. The supplier would print the document, sign two hard copies, and send them back to us for counter-signature. We’d then send one copy back to the supplier, retain a copy, and because of the limited resources we have internally, send it to a third-party scanning service to get scanned. Once the scanned documents had come back to us, we’d upload them to our contract repository and that document would be stored, at cost, by an external service provider.

What was your approach to deploying e-signatures within purchasing?

We created one template per team. The template is an updated version of Docusign’s adoption kit one-pager, which senders upload. They can then drag in the fields to the appropriate points within their contracts. It allows us to be contractually compliant, but we use the fields and functionalities in different ways.

That is an interesting use case. What made you do it this way?

All of our contracts are different lengths, have different schedules, and the signing boxes are all over the documents. Plus, we don’t do addendums to contracts.

We also mandate using templates. The Contract Support team is mandated as a CC. So now, when the contract is fully signed, signatories will get the Certificate of Completion and the final contractual document that are immediately uploaded to our contract repository.

For you, then, the workflow is an important feature?

Yes, that’s important to us. We have started using Bulk Send for NDAs to pre-populate the fields, and we’ll have a second sender that will specify a signer. Effectively, we’re using Bulk Send to do a mail merge. We’re about to launch a big use case sending out letters to around 300 suppliers using the Bulk Send functionality.

We are also looking at simplifying documentation to use PowerForms. Another good use case is the conflict of interest form that must go out with all our tender documentation. It’s a prime document for PowerForms. For example, with a P2P and compliance specialist as a recipient, a PowerForm is sent out to the relevant stakeholders to complete and the completed documents come back into Docusign. It saves them time not having to send out documents and have people scan them.

So, they just send a link out to the PowerForm, the end signer completes the form, and it gets routed to the compliance specialist? 

Exactly. We wanted to get suppliers used to the signing process. So, for our supplier awards last year, the entry submission was set up as a PowerForm. That way, the suppliers got the experience of using Docusign. They completed the tick boxes and the fields of the awards that they wanted to nominate themselves for, added the attachment, and signed the Docusign to send it back.

That went out to all our strategic, critical and operational suppliers, and we drafted communications around the fact that Docusign was coming. So, the way we introduced it to our suppliers was initially a soft touch with supplier award entries.

That’s a great way of encouraging user adoption. Have you received any feedback from them?

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from both external stakeholders and the people using the tool. And suppliers. To the point where one supplier requested our contact details to let us know they were so impressed.

Has Docusign resolved your purchasing challenges?

Docusign has allowed us to significantly reduce risk, firstly. There was a small risk that a supplier could modify a document, even though it was sent as a PDF.

Secondly, from a cost-saving perspective, we don’t pay for external scanning or archiving service anymore. Once the document has been approved, we can immediately send it out, and the average completion time is between two and three days. It was previously two weeks from start to finish. So, it’s significantly changed the way we work.

What do you value most about your experience so far using Docusign?

The simplicity. We’ve only used one of the onboarding sessions that were issued to us when we signed up. That attests to how simple the tool is, both from an administrative point of view and a non-administrative point of view. In terms of setup, user management, training, templates and so on, we’ve not had any onboarding, out of choice, because it was that simple.

When we have an important deadline, Docusign solves the issue straight away. We can get the contract out at the last minute, at the end of the day, and get it completed in time. It has become vital to the team as they know they’ve got that resource there.

It’s also a commercial lever for us. It’s currently year-end, so we’re being approached with certain year-end offers. It allows us to hold off until the last day in the knowledge that we can complete a transaction on the same day; get the contract out in the morning and the purchase order out in the afternoon. That’s an interesting way Docusign can be used in procurement, as a strategic tool to leverage a supplier.

Thank you both for sharing!

To see how Docusign can automate key purchasing processes within your company, contact us.

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