Workflow Automation for General Counsels: How to Save Time, Money, and Deals
‘Workflow automation’ refers to technologies that use predetermined processes and rules-based logic to complete certain tasks regularly without the need for ongoing user input. Workflow automation has proven beneficial in many industries, not least because it has led to time and cost efficiencies. General counsels can achieve these efficiencies through automation tools in Contract Management Software, also known as Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software. They stand to gain savings in time and money and improvements in deal completion. Indeed, automation can save deals that might otherwise expire because of missed deadlines, poor organization, or ultra vires lifecycle progressions.
What is workflow automation?
Workflow automation is a way to delegate certain manual tasks to a computer. The software allows a user to input various processes and rules so that the software will perform repetitive tasks in the future. These tasks can be anything from entering appointment bookings into a shared calendar to sending a document for approval.
For most, the broad applications and benefits of automation are immediately clear. For example, it might take a user several minutes to check an appointment booking system for new entries, cross-reference those entries with those in a shared calendar, check availability, and confirm the booking on both ends of the process. Workflow automation software can be set up to do this task in milliseconds. It might also take a long time to prepare a document for review, check authorized parties' access, send it to the relevant stakeholders, and ensure document receipt. Again, workflow automation can do all this in seconds.
How to get started with workflow automation in Contract Management Software
Most general counsels will now be familiar with contract management software. In the past few years, companies of all sizes have adopted the software to improve their CLM process. Indeed, an increase in teams' productivity owing to the reduction of unnecessary paperwork is still a major attraction. For some, it might be a mystery how contract management software automates workflows, and how it may save considerable time, money, and deals in the long run.
In this regard, below we share three best practices for using contract management software to automate workflows:
1. Set up automated alerts and notifications:
Contract management software allows users to set up alerts and notifications. This can serve to improve the management of contracts in a variety of ways. Indeed, different types of alerts and notifications can be set up depending on the contract, contract type, user, or role basis. Not only do these alerts and notifications help users to stay on top of progress in deal-making, but they also allow them to review changes to the status of negotiations and key documents when they occur (or do not occur by a set time or date). Further, notifications may detail upcoming or missed deadlines as well as changes to scheduling. An automated email sent to stakeholders when actions are complete (or not, for that matter) saves general counsels considerable time in general oversight activities, allowing them to spend their time on higher-value activities.
2. Push contracts/changes for approval/review:
One reason for delays in negotiations and other key aspects of contract lifecycle management (CLM) is that documents sit on desks for hours, days, weeks, or even months without progress. Rarely is there a good reason for this. Indeed, it tends to be the case that general counsels are too busy to stay on top of every minute aspect of the contract lifecycle. The good news is that setting up contract management software to automate this aspect of contract lifecycle management is very straightforward. If a clause changes, for example, a notification pings to the party, who must review it within a certain time frame.
3. Route contracts for signature (wet or electronic):
When parties reach prima facie agreement on the terms of a new contract, they breathe a sigh of relief as the complex negotiations come to an end. But general counsels know that such an agreement is not the end of their work but the start of a new part of it. When agreed, contract management software can route the contract for wet or electronic signature. This speeds up the formalities of the contract conclusion. In turn, this sets the contract implementation, monitoring, and management activities in motion.
Is coding experience necessary for workflow automation?
The best contract management software on the market removes the need for complex code. Instead, it allows users to create and manage workflows either through a visual interface or one that only requires logical, non-technical input. When it comes to workflow automation, in particular, the best contract management software allows users to:
- get information and understand contract progress on an attractive user interface
- enter commands via intuitive workflow builders (that look like a flow chart)
- create custom alerts and notifications without back-end editing
- visualize processes in easy-to-understand formats
Contract management software has proven invaluable in many respects in the day-to-day life of general counsels. The software frees up time and resources in handling the complex administrative tasks involved in contract lifecycle management. When used for workflow automation, these benefits compound, improving deal completion rates and more efficient resource management.
Contracts 365 is the leading contract management software for Microsoft 365 customers. With usability, functionality, and security at the forefront of development, Contracts 365 addresses all aspects of the contract lifecycle through a modern, intuitive interface specific to your users. Customer First Cloud Architecture provides IT with the security of Microsoft 365 while powerful prebuilt integrations with Dynamics and Salesforce extend the platform to every part of your business. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to contact us or to request a demo.