UCL Consultants (UCLC) is one of the UK’s leading providers of academic consultancy services. A wholly owned subsidiary of University College London, it connects companies and organisations with the university’s 6,500 academics and research staff to solve problems, create opportunities, and better understand complex issues.
UCLC identified workflow pain points across its organisation around contract signing response times, out-dated work procedures, and a general lack of visibility in the agreement audit chain. Deploying DocuSign eSignature has enabled UCLC to streamline the sharing of documents and contracts, accelerate the signing of agreements regardless of location, and improve staff efficiencies and well-being.
Partnering with DocuSign accelerates signing times
UCLC brings together partners from commercial enterprises, consultancy firms, local and national government, public bodies, charities and NGOs together with experts from different fields within UCL. Before work can begin, contracts need to be agreed and signed with both partners and research academics.
With many clients based internationally, the organisation identified that time delays caused by traditional forms of document sharing and wet signature agreement were directly influencing the efficiency of its business. Such manual processes were also placing additional burdens and time constraints on its staff.
Prior to working with DocuSign, client agreements and contract documents for signing would be printed and sent via mail, courier, or scanned and emailed, requiring a wet signature by the recipient before being returned. Similarly, internal forms for university staff would require printing and sending using the internal postal system. In extreme cases, UCLC staff would need to deliver paperwork for signing by hand to academics, then await wet signature agreements to be returned.
G. Bjorn Christianson, Director of Business Development at UCL Consultants outlines the main issue, stating: “We got to a point where we were asking ourselves: ‘why are we doing all these manual steps in order to get an almost unreadable version of the contract at the end of it?’”
Transforming agreement processes with DocuSign
UCLC has been handling agreement signing via DocuSign eSignature for almost a decade. It found the experience of implementing the tools into its workflow systems incredibly straightforward. Basic training and the creation of templates were carried out in 10 working days, with the whole team finding the software to be intuitive and seamless to integrate in their workflows.
“The nature of our business meant that everyone immediately became heavy DocuSign users, so it was easy for us to start identifying new places where we could use it,” says G. Bjorn Christianson.
The business initially used DocuSign eSignature to streamline processes with its international clients, vastly reducing the turnaround times of agreements being signed, which in turn means that delivery to the client can start sooner. The organisation has gone on to expand the use of eSignature across the business and today incorporates any touch point that requires a signature, such as invoice approvals, capture payment approvals and reimbursements, through to appraisal and HR forms.
As a result, UCLC has instigated a policy whereby all documentation requiring a signature is preferentially handled via DocuSign. Furthermore, UCLC has also actioned the use of DocuSign eWitness for the witness signing of deeds, an occasional part of its data processing protocols. It has enabled UCLC to avoid the cost, potential errors and time delays associated with the physical witnessing of documents, something prior to COVID-19 the business was forced to abide by due to policy stipulations. This has resulted in the organisation running a completely paperless business system, reducing costs and streamlining efficiencies along the value chain.
DocuSign eSignature has given UCLC the flexibility and time-savings it required. The ability to add multiple signatures and allocate tasks were key drivers in its wider adoption. However, it has been the implementation of templates that has had the greatest impact on the organisation: “DocuSign templates are massively useful and we’re implementing them both at the business and employee level,” says G. Bjorn Christianson. “They are incredibly easy to use and save huge amounts of time.”
DocuSign eSignature is also being used internally to add transparency and traceability across the business. Envelopes can be reassigned, which has aided progress tracking, while the ability to check status updates supports the wider efficiency of the business.
Using DocuSign as a benchmark to excellence
Using DocuSign eSignature to automate the workflow processes of agreement signing has delivered a positive impact to UCLC staff, its partners and the experts at University College London. The streamlining of procedures has reduced manual tasks, delivered due diligence and improved time-management efficiency.
“DocuSign eSignature has delivered huge time savings, but the biggest impact it has had at UCLC is on morale. It has removed a tedious set of administrative tasks and enabled people to focus on the parts of the job they enjoy.”
With case management, finance, and team collaboration all integrated around the use of DocuSign, the organisation is constantly evaluating how it can automate a wider range of processes. The company believes the integration of DocuSign into its workflows has fundamentally changed how the business looks to address and resolve information sharing challenges.
“One of the questions we ask ourselves when evaluating new software,” says G. Bjorn Christianson, “is: ‘will it integrate in a way useful to DocuSign?’ and that is something we will continue to ask.”
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