> 50%Contracts completed within 24 hours
80%Contracts completed within 7 days
^Faster, less wasteful procurement processes
Every six minutes, a Maersk container ship calls on a port somewhere around the globe. The Danish shipping giant handles one in five containers shipped by sea, transporting goods for some of the world’s biggest brands. But Maersk’s long-term vision extends far beyond the earth’s oceans—and, in recent years, the company has invested heavily in growing its landside business.
“We’ve gone through a tremendous transformation—from a conglomerate to a global integrator of container logistics & supply chain services,” said Lucas Rulff, head of digital procurement excellence. At the same time, Maersk has committed to leading the industry towards a more sustainable future.
Maersk’s +500-person procurement organisation is supporting the company’s growth and sustainability goals in a number of ways—from forging the right partnerships to securing digital technologies, including the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, to speed the pace of doing business.
Freeing resources to focus on supplier relationships and sustainability goals
Maersk’s digital procurement journey began 15 years ago with the company simply trying to organise contracts in an online tool. Cutting costs through e-sourcing was one of the core focuses of the first 10 years. The last five have been about more strategic transformation. “Our mission is about freeing up people to focus more time on value-added things like supplier relationships and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals,” said Nikolaj Jessen-Klixbüll, head of procurement delivery.
Digital tools like DocuSign eSignature are helping Maersk’s procurement team achieve that by simplifying a once painful process that involved email, couriers or sometimes massive stacks of contracts piled up on a desk, waiting for a signature.
“We have thousands of contracts that need to be signed and—in many cases—countersigned by people in different parts of the world,” said Jessen-Klixbüll. “It would literally take weeks or months to get them processed in the system.” Now, the timeline is measured in days or hours, and senior executives can sign from anywhere on their mobile devices.
With eSignature, 80% of contracts are completed in less than a week—and over half in less than 24 hours. But the benefits go far beyond speed. Moving to paperless signatures has helped Maersk save 1.8 million sheets of paper in 2021.
Extracting meaningful, AI-driven insights from the entire agreement portfolio
One of the main factors driving Maersk’s decision to go with DocuSign eSignature was because it’s part of an end-to-end system that will enable the procurement team to take advantage of analytics to get deeper insights into the company’s universe of contracts.
“We’re collecting more contracts into our database than ever before because people love using eSignature,” said Rulff. “And with DocuSign Insight, we can determine what’s going on with those contracts with very limited touch.” Documents (including envelope and cover sheet data) flow directly from eSignature into Insight without requiring manual effort or data duplication.
DocuSign Insight’s machine learning and natural language processing capabilities enable Maersk to analyse thousands of supplier agreements to spot opportunities to reduce costs, minimise risks and quickly respond to new regulatory requirements and supply chain disruptions.
“We have a huge amount of data—both on the signing process and the actual contracts themselves—that we now have the ability to turn into meaningful actions. And that’s because of the integration we have between eSignature and Insight,” said Rulff.
Maersk’s Center of Excellence team customised extraction policies for specific use cases. For example, the team can quickly pinpoint which contracts in Northern Europe contain a fuel surcharge...or which have a provision that enables container tracking—insights that would be impractical to get manually.
“It would take far too many hours to sort through all of our contracts,” said Rulff. “Now, when someone comes to us with a specific question, we can answer it within the same day because of Insight. It’s been quite impressive.”
Digital is here to stay
Digital solutions, including the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, have not only brought major efficiencies; they’ve also paved the way for procurement to play a strategic role in accelerating innovation across the organisation. “We are now seeing not just procurement using DocuSign, but legal, finance and HR are starting to adopt these tools as well.”
It’s an upward trajectory that Rulff expects will continue. Recently, when an employee was having difficulty sending a DocuSign envelope to a particular supplier because of an incorrect email address, Rulff received several red-alert emails. “That’s when it occurred to me that DocuSign is really institutionalised in our organisation as the way to do business now,” he said.
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