When eSignature tools first hit the market 15 years ago, contract managers rejoiced. Finally, an alternative to the long process to get someone else to print, read, and sign a document correctly, then scan or post it back to you legibly. They were a huge boon over the old process and many small businesses embraced the technology for the contract management part of their business.
However, eSignature tools only really do one thing well. They’re not designed to manage your entire contract lifecycle process, and your company may be leaving money on the table by relying on a tool that no longer serves your needs.
Here are five signs your eSignature tool is failing your business:
1. Your Contract Development Process is Still Manual
Though you’re able to collect signatures electronically, the contract development and redlining process still feels like pulling teeth. Your teams are working in a word processor, sharing documents to and fro, and it’s painfully slow and error-prone.
Every manual touch is an opportunity for error. In the rush to get the contract together, how can you trust that every clause would pass muster in your legal team and that every detail has been checked and rechecked? Often, small businesses will shy from making changes entirely, offering only boilerplate contracts and losing out on business, rather than trying to manage a laborious and risky contract editing process.
2. Recipients Cannot Collaborate on Contracts Easily
Imagine: Your potential customer is nearly ready to make a deal. You’ve agreed on price and particulars, so they’re excited to receive the contract from you by email. They open it up in your eSignature tool to read it and… their excitement immediately vanishes.
They decide to comment. Using the built-it eSignature tool you’re using, they draw a tiny box and start typing. The text is giant and runs off the screen so they move it but then it’s over the contract text so they can’t read what they’ve written. Squinting at the screen, they are annoyed at the tool, themselves, and you. They’re getting an idea of what it is like to work with your company and it’s not a good experience.
So they email you instead. Now you have comments in two places, doubling the risk that your team will miss something, and email comments by their nature are harder to match with individual clauses. So much can go wrong with what is essentially still a manual process.
3. Your Contract Management Workflow is a Disaster Waiting to Happen
Your eSignature tool has one job – to facilitate the signing of the contract. It has huge benefits over the drawn-out and risky wet-signature process but it doesn’t help you establish or operationalize a good workflow.
If customer service is important to your business, you want your fulfillment teams to leap into action as soon as a contract is signed. You should be scheduling production time, ordering parts, or pulling teams together to scale to the new work. Your eSignature tool gets the contract signed but then what? Does it languish in someone’s email while they take a three day weekend? And even if other teams are notified, how would they know the fulfillment of this contract is different from others?
You need a tool that knows when a contract has been signed and automatically triggers a set of fulfillment workflows, so by the time the contract manager reads the notification, you’re already on your way to delivery.
4. You’re Losing Control of Clauses
Customers are demanding increasingly individual contracts and shirking boilerplate language, which is creating large lakes of undefined clauses and increasing your contract risk. When the legal team has to sign off on every contract that has a single changed clause, the process gets laborious, long, and expensive. Your eSignature tool is no help here at all – it just creates more of a mess.
The best way to get a handle on your clauses is to use a Contract Lifecycle Management tool that includes a clause library. Each individual clause is defined by what it does and where it can be used, and each is approved by legal – once. When writing or redlining a new contract, the contract manager can be assured that all the clauses at play have been approved for use in the sections they appear.
5. Finding Contracts is a Giant Pain
And understanding their status is impossible without talking to someone.
How many hours has your team wasted just trying to find the most recent contract with a client? Small and medium-sized businesses frequently have trouble with version control and naming conventions – and that’s even if all your contracts are stored in the right place! The ease with which eSignature tools store files means many companies have the majority of their signed contracts in a file store, with most contract managers doing the right thing, but others are hiding out in the signature tool itself.
Even inside your files, the search function brings up false positives – old versions of contracts that are not relevant – and even the most organized file storage systems in the world are devoid of context. While you may be able to see a contract signed with a client from January 2019, how would you know what it took to get the signature? How would you know that the client almost didn’t renew, and why, without talking to someone? What happens if they have left the company or they don’t remember?
You need a better tool, one that can find relevant contracts with a single search, along with all the context you need to make good decisions.
Your eSignature Tool Isn’t Cutting It. Step Up to a Contract Lifecycle Management Workflow Suite.
If these five points sound familiar and you’re still struggling to manage contracts with an eSignature tool, your business would benefit from a Contract Lifecycle Management tool. CLMs are purpose-built tools that create a unified, searchable repository for all your contracts, relevant actions taken, and communications about them. They standardize and manage workflows, clause libraries, and role-based permissions. And they integrate with other systems to allow for automation, which has huge efficiency benefits, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
Anapact is a next-generation Contract Lifecycle Management tool that was created by a small business owner who realized there was a better way than relying on eSignature tools and document storage built for other industries. Get a demo today.