Not too long ago, you wanted to print copies of your contracts in triplicate to ensure that all parties understand the terms and are bound to the agreement. Yet, contracts are rarely lightweight documents; they can be hundreds of pages long, and having so many physical copies floating around the office is expensive, time-consuming, messy and inefficient.
That’s why so many businesses are changing tack and moving from several hardcopies to none. Thanks to digital contracting solutions, it isn’t necessary to print out even one physical contract. This is beneficial for several reasons: It reduces a business’s environmental footprint by eliminating so much paper waste; it reduces the need for storage space because digital contracts can be saved to an off-site server; it improves the efficiency of contract management because tools can search through saved contracts in seconds; and it keeps all parties on-task and on-schedule.
If you are ready to transition to a paperless contract system, here are the three tools you need — as well as an explanation of what they do and a buying guide to ensure you get exactly what your business needs.
Paper Document Scanning
Your first step should be to get all the paper contracts in a digital format, which will free up space around the office and make your contracts more functional. Digital contracts are safer and more secure, especially if you store them on the cloud, where they can’t be affected by fire or flood. Plus, digital contracts are easier to manage in terms of compliance, if you are subject to that kind of regulation.
You can assign all your assistants to this monumental process — which will likely take their full attention for weeks if not months. If you rely on your office assistants for other tasks, the process of transitioning to digital contracts will be slow, or else their other responsibilities will suffer. Suffice it to say that this solution isn’t ideal.
Another option is to hire temporary workers to tackle this project. Temps might be more cost effective, but thy will need space and tools to do the work. Plus, many temps are temps for a reason; they might lack the skills or temperament you would hope for in someone handling potentially sensitive documents.
Finally,you can pay a professional document scanning service to do the work for you. Though it might cost more, this option will provide swift and professional scanning, so you can begin utilizing a digital contract service more efficiently. You should look for a regional service provider, perhaps through your network of business contacts.
Enterprise Contract Management
Once you have digital contracts, you need enterprise contract management software. Tools like this parse the information contained in contracts to make the contract lifecycle easier to track and adhere to. At the very least, contract management tools will keep your contracts organized, so you can peruse them easily to find information you need. At the best, your management software will send you alerts regarding your contracts, such as to remind you of looming deadlines, analyze the performance of certain contracts, provide comparisons between contracts and generate new documents. The newest contract management apps rely on cutting-edge technology, like artificial intelligence, to ensure your contracts are working hard for your benefit. Enterprise contract management is easily one of the most important tools for businesses today.
For most of history, the signing of a contract has been an incredibly important and monumental affair. Of course, the signing was done on paper with ink, and each party received hard copies of the contract to keep for their records.
These days, especially in business, signing contracts is an everyday nuisance. Trying to get all parties in the same room at the same time takes weeks of planning — weeks that your business might not have to spare. The best solution for everyone, including the environment and your administrative assistants, is electronic signing. Whenever you need to initiate a new contract, you can email over a document and get a digital stamp of approval. You can keep the entire process digital, and not a single piece of paper needs to go to waste.
There are dozens of electronic signature services, including some free ones. Once you have your signature, you can add the document to your management system and ditch paper once and for all.