Often times during the contract initiation process, a member from sales, procurement, HR, or other department is looking to get a contractual agreement from the legal or contracts group in a quick amount of time so that engagements can start. The problem with this situation is two-fold: 1. The legal or contracts group is already overwhelmed with managing and creating contract requests, active contracts, as well as milestones and obligations and 2. There is often a lack of communication between legal and the rest of the organization as to when contract requests can be fulfilled.
A simple way to fix the problem is to allow for self-service creation of simple, standard contracts. For example, if you always use about the same verbage for standard templates such as NDAs, SOWs, or other basic agreements, groups or individuals looking to initiate these types of contracts could do so on their own. By simply entering required information such as counterparty information, start and end dates, any commercial values, etc. contracts can quickly and easily be created. If need be, the contract can get routed to a supervisor or legal team member for review and/or approval before it is issued and a signature from the counterparty is requested.
So, this may sound good in theory, but how does an organization set itself up for success in doing self-service contract creation when it has been differently since (potentially) the beginning of time?
Organizations/individuals content with status quos may be less thrilled about moving towards a self-service model, but the process itself will save time and money in the long run. For example, if the legal group issues at least a hundred contracts a year and constantly buried in their management, they would probably appreciate having others create simple contracts for themselves, and occasionally having them routed for approval just to make sure that all of the T’s and C’s are appropriate and in line with company policies.
Self-service creation also allows sales teams to create a standardized process for themselves. By not having to wait or rely on others to issue basic documents, they can have a more automated process and already have a general understanding of what agreements to send when and who the necessary signatories are.
If self-service creation is too much of a leap for now, at least offering contract requests that get routed to legal with specific timelines and all the necessary information to turn the template into a formalized contract is an alternative way to go. Such requests can be a basic form to fill out with the same required information, related documents (required or optional), as well as the counterparty information, commercial values, etc. The more information that legal has, the quicker the turnaround time can be. Any missing information can be quickly and easily communicated through an automated process and deadlines can be enforced with reminders and notifications.
Regardless of which path your organization decides to pursue, a trial period should be thought through. No new process is going to be 100% perfect from day one and for any company to expect so is illogical. There will more than likely be a few internal hiccups or road bumps to overcome before a fully fleshed out process is in place, but after overcoming a small trial and error period, most organizations are up and running without any further assistance from outside vendors or consultants.
Interested in learning more about self-service contract creation and/or requests? Contact us to get started.