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Evolving from the Ink Mindset

March 8, 2023 4 min read
Three ironclad employees holding a sign that says

Most legacy contract software has been historically immune to innovation. Lawyers are left with lengthy review cycles and wasted time and money on trying to improve this process. This is the exact problem that Ironclad set out to solve with our end-to-end CLM and Clickwrap products for managing high-volume contracts like terms & conditions, NDAs, and more.

And as we continue our mission to bring contracts into the digital age, it’s important to talk about one of the biggest detrimental factors in helping companies overcome this lack of innovation with traditional contracting software: The Ink Mindset.

What is the Ink Mindset?

So what is it? The Ink Mindset is the mindset that a contract consists of words on paper and must be “signed” to be binding, and it’s still very much in play for modern businesses. For example, prior to a transformation with Ironclad prompted by COVID-19 safety protocols, Extra Space Storage required customers to sign their lease agreement in-store, and they weren’t alone. At a high level, adhering to this mindset creates a limited view on how to innovate anything to do with contracts, especially when it comes to increasing velocity in business.

To better explain, let’s look at the evolution of how we physically transport something from Point A to B. Back in the Oregon Trail days, wagons were how we did this. Fast forward through the industrial revolution and now we have an engine – now we’re faster! We’ve continued to evolve those motorized vehicles with more speed to get places faster, but we are still running into the problem of roads, stops, etc.

Does this show improvement in speed? Of course! Is this innovation? Yes! But the problem with relying on 4 wheels is that you stay on the ground, are confined to roads, encounter stop signs, and sometimes get covered in coffee because of a violent confrontation with a clearly unmarked speed bump.

So when did we really start innovating how we get from point A to point B? At some point we realized that you can only move so fast with 4 wheels on the ground; so we ditched the wheels for wings.

Shifting Winds

This same principle can be applied to how we view the Ink Mindset and how we ditch the wheels for wings when it comes to contracting. It’s true that the Ink Mindset might be right for some companies – especially those just starting to manage contracts, those not processing thousands of contracts regularly, or those that don’t have high volume T&Cs/NDAs. But a lot of companies today are faced with the difficult task of digitizing their business without adding people, money, and resources to fuel that transformation.

As businesses evolve and adopt more modern models that rely on self-service workflows and online interactions, the Ink Mindset is incredibly stifling because it is typically the primary source of friction in any transaction. It’s an even bigger problem if you consider how these models focus on maximizing transaction velocity and volume to create scale. At some point the friction of the Ink Mindset makes that scale impossible.

screenshot of ironclad mutual nda on desktop

Enter: The Acceptance Mindset

So how do we evolve from an Ink Mindset? Shifting from an Ink Mindset requires adopting the Acceptance Mindset.

People adopting the Acceptance Mindset believe:

  • There’s more than one way to get a contract accepted
  • A process is about more than just getting a contract signed; it’s about the most efficient way to complete a business process
  • Unnecessary negotiation of contracts and inefficient back and forth should be eliminated
mobile screenshot of Ts&Cs

However, it’s important to note that the Acceptance Mindset isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. To determine the right forms of acceptance for your business and to ensure that you’re prepared for the transition, look out for these three signs.

Overwhelming Volume of Documents

If your business deals with a significant number of contracts or other legal documents that require signatures, it may be time to switch to e-signatures or clickwrap agreements. E-signatures can significantly reduce the amount of time and effort required to sign and manage documents, as well as eliminate the need for physical storage space. Clickwraps take it a step further by requiring just one click to make an acceptance of a document legally binding, no negotiation required. As L’oréal ramped up their influencer marketing strategy, for example, their legal team became a bottleneck for getting contracts delivered. After a solution with Ironclad, they were able to send over contracts the same day as their meeting with influencers.

Risky Record Keeping

Ultimately, signatures are all about securing an agreed upon contract, which protects both parties in the event of a dispute. E-signatures and clickwrap agreements provide an exact copy to both parties upon signature, leaving zero room for foul play. With Ironclad, copies of all your contracts are also automatically stored in a single repository, so finding the exact document you need in the event of a lawsuit is a breeze. When COVID-19 hit, the Texas Rangers leveraged Ironclad’s repository to generate a dataset and amend thousands of impacted contracts in one swoop. 

Long Approval Times

Gone are the days of printing, signing, and scanning to pass documents back and forth. Switching to e-signatures can streamline your document management processes and make it easier for your clients or customers to sign documents. Clickwrap agreements often offer the best user experience as they are more user-friendly when signing on different devices and don’t require multiple signatures. Extra Space Storage’s average time to capture customer signatures now takes 63% less time on mobile and 80% less time on desktop with Clickwrap when compared to their prior methods.

The Ink Mindset will always get in the way of any modern business trying to maximize transaction velocity. Higher velocity transactions require a complete reimagining of the role contracts play in those transactions. To truly innovate, we need to eliminate the perception that a contract consists of words on paper and can only be accepted with a squiggly line of ink. 

To learn more and see the mindset evolution in action, check out the full story on how Extra Space Storage leveraged Ironclad Clickwrap to uplevel their contracting processes.

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Kyle Robbins is a former attorney turned Ironclad’s Head of Sales for the Ironclad Clickwrap product line. He’s spent nearly a decade in legal tech, focused almost exclusively on the inner-workings of clickwrap agreement programs. Kyle holds a BS from DePauw University, and his JD from Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. When he’s not talking about clickwraps, chances are you’ll find battling his love/hate relationships with his 4-iron, half-marathons, and Indiana Hoosier football.