Ironclad Journal icon Ironclad BLOG

The Digital Contracting Process Is Putting Legal on the Fast Track

July 2, 2019 4 min read

I always flinched when I heard, “Pass the new vendor contract through Legal.”

Until recently, I looked at Legal as the proverbial “black box.” Important stuff goes in, tumbles and cycles around — why I don’t know — then comes out wrinkled with redlines, ready to re-forward as a Word document back to my vendor for further offline review, more redlines, and maybe, just maybe, a few signatures somewhere down the line.

Legal, rinse, repeat.

Caught in the backwash, I was hamstrung. No clue when I could tell my VP the go-live date for a hot new vendor solution, “pending sorting out redlines and running down stakeholder sigs.”

Speed doesn’t kill, slow does

No wonder Legal Mosaic CEO Mark A. Cohen’s 2018 Forbes article Legal Delivery at The Speed of Business — And Why It Matters, with no less than 24 references to “speed,” “accelerate” or “slow,” resonated with me, right after I joined Ironclad to help lead marketing campaigns that address big pain points felt by GCs, senior counsel and legal professionals.

“Law’s delivery cycle and the remnants of its artisanal approach lag the Warp-speed of business, and that is one of many reasons investment in legal technology (IT applied to legal delivery), legal operations, and the migration of ‘legal work’ from law firms to in-house legal departments… has accelerated during the past decade…”

Nailed it.

Then there are two startling stats from The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management I keep colliding with:

As it ever was, time is money.

As a marketer who lives by a calendar of P0 priorities, I have an inherent need for speed. Go to market speed. Go live speed. Go now speed. In short, go go go.

Enter the digital contracting process.

Imagine injecting fastness into the millenia-old contracting process.

I can’t tell you how much time and efficiency I’ve lost to legal paperchases in my career, emailing marked-up, multi-generational Word docs, sorting through file folders looking for original agreements, or worse, sheepishly asking a vendor, “Um, do you have a copy of that contract I signed with you last year?”

What if every business could fast track their contracts — NDAs, BPAs, MSAs, influencer agreements — from creation to redlines to sign-off to storage, so they can focus less on paperwork and more on legal work?

I’m learning that automating a contracting process can not only mitigate business risk by helping spotlight risky clauses, forgotten renewal clauses, and rogue contracting but also help Legal:

  • Streamline contract approvals by enabling business users to launch their own contracting processes with confidence
  • Keep pace with the speed of business while saving money on every contract
  • Become a good partner to the business (not a black box)

In short, contracting efficiency is no longer just a dream for my impatient marketing brethren and more importantly for overworked, undervalued, isolated and long-suffering legal counsel and legal ops professionals.

Businesses getting the digital contracting process

Pulling back the curtain, it’s easy to see how typically understaffed legal teams are under bombardment and unable to keep pace with business requests. They spend inordinate cycles on cat herding, paper chasing and signature tracking. It’s hardly surprising that aspirations of becoming advisors to the business often take a back seat in this environment.

That’s changing.

Two companies on the digital contacting process speedway are Procore and Dropbox.

Before digitizing their contracting, Procore, a global SaaS company specializing in construction management software, tasked their legal team with manually processing all vendor contracts, even when they lacked relevant context. The result was a clogged legal pipeline and slowed procurement process.

“We needed to be as nimble and fast as the rest of the company, and we didn’t want to throw bodies at problems we could solve with processes and technology,” says Logan Maley, Procore’s Associate General Counsel.

Procore Legal needed to support aggressive growth, without introducing barriers and risks to the business. By helping automate and surface much needed insight into Procore’s contracting workflow, Ironclad enabled their legal team to be true business enablers, rather than blockers.

For Dropbox’s Commercial Legal Team, Inbound Services Agreements and Statements of Work (“ISA/SOW”) are straightforward contracts that require limited legal expertise. But those standard, low-risk documents come with real costs in time and resources, especially with more than a thousand employees across eight teams and 12 offices. Before engaging Ironclad, the result was a resourcing and operational nightmare.

By implementing an ISA/SOW automated workflow at Dropbox, Ironclad in short order helped Dropbox eliminate 2,000 tickets from their legal queue. Digitizing the process saw document processing often go from two weeks to just minutes, “as fast as you can click,” said Ashlee Best, Asana’s Legal Operations Manager.

Wait there’s more! In the bargain, Dropbox collected tens of thousands of pieces of valuable contracts data their legal team can leverage to identify business risk and streamline contracting processes further.

Quantity, quality and speed? Where do I sign?

In Summary

Going digital just may be the New Black for legal teams.

“Contracts must first catch up to the pace of business, then evolve far enough ahead to lead the way to the future,” says Ironclad CEO Jason Boehmig. “They should be intelligent, automatic, and easy to use by both humans and computers. Contracts should be connected to the people and systems that need them, instead of buried in discarded emails and cluttered folders.”

Find out why adopting a digital contracting process can inject much needed speed into your business. Ask for an Ironclad demo today.

Want more content like this? Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Book your live demo