“Only 50% of contracts are counter-signed” …

This staggering claim was made by the General Counsel of a global Marketing Services agency that Dolphin Software met earlier this week and highlights the very real issue facing legal teams and contract managers around the world.

Perhaps this is a statistic that not many General Counsels will admit to, but it is a well known fact that, despite all of the time and effort that goes in to the drafting and internal approval process for contracts and agreements, once a contract is sent to a third party (customer, partner, supplier, etc) you lose almost all of the control that you had. 

For many companies, contracts are drafted manually in Microsoft Word, emailed as attachments to internal colleagues for reveiw and approval and then emailed to the external party.  This is where things can often go wrong.  The process is inherently inefficient.  By emailing contracts outside of your organisation, you are effectively giving up any hope of controlling the contracting process.  You are dependent on the external party following your guidance on timelines, information security and amending drafts – not to mind the administrative burden of having to deal with mutiple versions of draft contracts been sent back to you via email.  In fact, the external contract negotiation phase in the contacting process is one of the biggest causes of delay in contract cyle times.

Lets face it, it is inconvenient to print out contracts, sign them, and scan them.  Many signed paper contracts sit on the desks of managers for days, and in some cases, weeks before they are forwarded on in an email or uploaded in to a contract repository.  This is bad news for commercial contractors who are looking to conclude business and bad news for purchasers who are looking to bring a new supplier on board.

A new generation of contract management software solutions, like Dolphin Contract Manager, aim to make this process easier for contracting parties and more efficient.  Rather than attaching draft contracts to emails for internal approval, many contract management solutions facilitate this process through a managed approval workflow process, where managers access a single copy of the contract that is stored in a central repository; and rather than emailing external parties, secure external workspaces can be created so that contract documents can be uploaded and external parties can collaborate and negotiate amendments to contracts in a secure and time-controlled environment.

Digital Signature solutions, like CoSign from Arx, can also play a big part in reducing cycle time by allowing both internal staff and external parties to review contracts electronically and digitally sign them without having to print, scan and upload.

It is no wonder then, that contracts that are sent to third parties are often not counter-signed and returned.  The current way of doing things is just too inconvenient. 

Is this an issue for you too?  Take part in our poll below:

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