Recent innovations in contract management solutions are bringing agility, collaboration, and ease-of-use to organizations of every size and driving procurement and enterprise success along the way. More specifically, Digital Transaction Management (“DTM”) tools are changing the way that enterprises and procurement teams conduct business and codify trading partner relationships. They are taking paper out of the process, cutting down on costly processing times and errors, putting contracts into decision makers’ hands sooner, and easing the pain on all relevant stakeholders. Here’s a look at what and how contract management tools and Digital Transaction Management tools have been delivering value to enterprise procurement teams.

Rethinking Contract Management with Digital Transaction Management Tools

For starters, digital contract authoring tools simplify the process for all parties by removing paper from the equation and placing all documents in an online work-space. Here, multiple parties can create and edit contract templates, populate them with reusable clauses and language, and save and tailor them for future use. With version control features, including “check-in/check-out,” “last modified by” updates, and redlining options, digital contract authoring tools can ensure that parties do not duplicate efforts or work with outdated versions, and that they incorporate every party’s feedback.

Once a contract is finalized and ready for execution, electronic signatures can be created, applied, and saved for future use. Signatories can apply their e-signature and, with a mouse-click, email the contract to the next signatory via automated workflows and straight-through processes. Rules created during the contract authoring process designate the next signatory, while the automated nature of the tool emails the contract to that person or persons. Signatories do not have to determine who is next to sign, or attach the contract to an email; they are automatically done. Signatories can access this cloud-based (virtual) work-space from anywhere there is an internet connection. And, with mobile-first/mobile-ready applications, they can do so on any connected platform, and by anyone with the proper credentials.

Likewise, digital contract repository tools allow enterprises to store executed contracts in a central, searchable repository that credentialed parties can access and search by virtue of it being digital. Now contracts managers, CPOs, legal teams, and procurement staff can search for and gain greater visibility into existing contracts with suppliers so that they are not needlessly drafting and executing new ones. Also, all parties can reference applicable contracts and review contract terms and conditions and service-level agreements. They can thusly ensure that internal and external partners comply with contracts by leveraging them for needed goods and services, driving on-contract spend, and preventing suppliers from renegotiating price, terms, and conditions in their favor. Moreover, greater access and visibility to their contracts can drive governmental/regulatory compliance and help enterprises avoid costly fines and penalties. At the end of the day, digital contract repositories can increase visibility into the state of play of contracts, provide stakeholders with valuable and timely intelligence, and ultimately save an enterprise time, effort, and money.

As hosted solutions, DTM tools can be leveraged by internal and external stakeholders, do not need to be installed on systems, do not require expensive or extensive implementation and training periods, and do not require IT staff to maintain or troubleshoot them. They are adaptable, scalable, user-friendly tools that enterprises of all sizes can access from the cloud and leverage at any time by anyone from almost any platform. All told, DTM tools allow suppliers, procurement, legal, and other stakeholders to digitally collaborate, and create and execute a contract in the most timely, efficient, and cost-effective way possible, on or off-premise.

Final Thoughts

Modern contract management tools, particularly DTM tools, have made the enterprise contract management process faster, more efficient, less costly, and less painful for most stakeholders along the way — from procurement to operations to legal/general counsel. There are affordable, easily deployable, and user-friendly solutions out there – either from pure-play providers like DocuSign and Icertis, or from solution suite providers like Determine and Jaggaer. By re-thinking contract management, enterprises of all sizes can benefit from taking paper, ink, and postage out of their contracts and digitizing, automating, and centralizing them – either on-premises or in the cloud. Doing so is no longer a competitive advantage in the global business game; it is now table-stakes. Competitive companies will need to ante up.

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