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Contract Design for Enterprise Businesses

What is contract design? | Group of people working together, top view

Contract design is the structuring of contracts and associated workflows based on the business’s ideal state. Done well, it provides a user experience that sets the tone for how a prospect or customer interacts with a business. Contract design is crucial for enterprise businesses that want to stay ahead. 

Contracts that are designed around the needs of the business and the desired user experience are less likely to cause friction. Most businesses have moved (or are steadily moving) towards digitizing the way they interact with consumers, especially with the onset of the pandemic that has required more remote and virtual interaction. Customers now make purchases any and everywhere, and businesses need to be able to meet them where they are, whether on mobile, desktop, or through a third party app. So, shouldn’t your contract design workflow align with your very digital front-end user experience?

Enter: contract design.

What is contract design?

Contract design is the process of aligning your contracting goals with your business processes and needs. It is the practice of letting the needs of your business and client direct the way you implement contracts across your business ecosystem. For example, if your clients access their contracts from their mobile phones because they are always on the go, your delivery method should meet that need. If several departments require access to data within contracts, your recordkeeping system should be centralized and track versions. 

Essentially, your contracts should not be a burden, but implemented in a workflow designed with your external clients, legal department, and entire enterprise in mind.

Inefficient contract design workflow causes bottlenecks

Contracts are an elemental part of a business workflow that can be digitized and instantly improve customer experience (and increase overall revenue). However, according to Business Law Today, approximately 95% of businesses still manage contracts manually.

SpringCM’s 2018 The State of Contract Management Report stated that many enterprise businesses still use spreadsheets, shared drives, or email to manage their contracts. Also, 74% of respondents said that human error often  impacts their contracting process and contract management. Even more, most report that their biggest problems are tracking, approvals, workflow, e-signature, and storing contracts.

Within your business, there are likely several departments and even more stakeholders redlining, approving, and managing clauses in your contracts at any given time. If this hasn’t changed, it might be because:

  1. You want to be thorough and cross every t and dot every i;
  2. You don’t know how to move fast while maintaining control;
  3. It’s just the way you’ve always done it.

Whereas your need to be thorough is what makes you a good general counsel, there is absolutely no reason to continue to do something that doesn’t work because that’s the way you’ve always done it. Each of these problems can, and should, be remedied with good contract design.

Contract design can transform legal departments

Good contract design is needed at enterprise businesses because improving your contracting process can save thousands, if not millions, in annual revenue. Effective contracting:

  • Reduces the number of hours spent on contracting by 20-50% (Goldman Sachs via Contractlogix)
  • Leads to 90% renewal rate (Aberdeen Group via SpringCM)
  • Saves 40% on contract administration costs (Icertis).

Old contracts cannot do business in this new world. In order to get ahead, you need to design your contracts to reflect your ideal state at enterprise business.

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