The question of “where is the contract?” often arises during any review or approval process. Many times the answer is that ‘Bob’ is reviewing it. Perhaps Bob never received his email, lost and/or deleted the email, accidentally spilled coffee on the paper copy someone put on his desk, or a million other things could’ve happened to prevent Bob from responding. Maybe Bob even forgot that he needed to get back to you. Without knowing if Bob ever received your request in the first place, would it be inconsiderate to already start nagging him about it?
By automating your contracts’ workflows based on contract types or allowing for ad-hoc workflows to be created on the fly, Bob will no longer have an excuse for not getting back to you. Loosely defined, workflow automation means streamlining workflows to improve processes, increase efficiency, and maximize communication and collaboration. So, once someone in your company initiates a workflow and routes it to Bob, Bob will automatically receive an email alert as well as a task waiting for him when he logs into your contract management solution. Anyone looking to receive information about the status of the workflow can simply view the workflow history and see that Bob has received the task and has a certain amount of days to complete it by.
So, what happens if Bob is lazy, out sick, or generally not available to answer the call of duty? Most contract management solutions allow for delegation or escalation if Bob still doesn’t respond. Based on Bob’s profile (usually synced with AD), he may have already predetermined who the lucky folks are to receive tasks in his absence. If not, the workflow can always get routed to someone else.
Generally speaking, workflows are usually sent to at least a couple people at one time in a parallel or serial fashion. So if Mary is next in line to review the contract, she may be stuck waiting another couple of days until someone else can step in and fill Bob’s shoes and review the contract for him. Luckily for Mary, however, she can stay informed of where the workflow tasks are sitting because she also has access to the same information that Bob does and may or may not have been notified of the escalation or delegation, whichever the case may be.
When a workflow is initiated, the person starting it can also send along any comments they want to the reviewers as well. Likewise, reviewers can also send comments back to the initiator. These can include things such as missing contract documents, updates to clauses, or concerns about the agreement itself. This also saves time in sending emails back and forth and preventing Bob from once again causing delays on the contract.
Let’s say, however, that this workflow is not one for review but for approval. If there are certain items missing or that need to be polished before everything is finalized, rejections, along with comments should be sent back to the initiator. This will keep the process following nicely and changes can be made promptly so that the workflow can be restarted.
Once this process is further hammered out, organizations will have a better understanding of how to automate their workflows, receive tasks and reminder alerts, as well as notifications of workflow history. In efforts to save time and money, finding a way to automate the entire process is definitely the way to go.
Interested in learning about how you can automate your contract workflow process? Contact us today to get started!