There is nothing inherently wrong with searching for the best document automation software available. But why stop there when you can have so much more in a digital contracting system that can enhance your developing business?
What is document automation/generation software?
Document automation or generation software refers to software that automatically allows your digital contracting system to manage contract workflows from start to finish, instead of expecting your Legal team to move contracts gradually—as required in a manual process.
Contract workflow automation often begins by selecting the appropriate contract template and generating an initial document. This is followed by all the business procedures required to make the contract compliant and legally binding.
Document automation introduces software to automatically run your contract workflows instead of requiring your Legal team to manually move contracts through each management process from creation to signature.
How automation software can improve your business
Documents are the core of every business transaction, but particularly so for operational legal businesses. By using automation contract software, you and your Legal team can eliminate costly repetitive tasks such as approvals and routine reviews.
Document automation software further allows for instant negotiation and collaboration. For example, either party can accept or reject changes in any contract in real-time, without any interim delays.
Automation also reduces mistakes. Unintentional grammatical mistakes in a contract can be costly. With the automation of workflows, every variant is documented and each contract is kept in the same place, immediately updated, and accessible to all. This eliminates the risk of working on an outdated contract or emailing the wrong document.
With a digital contracting platform coupled with automation, you can control contract workflows without manually completing each protracted step of a usually lengthy and slow process. As a general rule, contract management requires you to create, review, analyze, assign, track, distribute, share, and monitor contracts throughout their lifecycle. If performed individually and manually, these tasks are not only time-consuming, they also lose business revenue.
Additional benefits of an end-to-end contract management system
Document creation or generation in the contract management lifecycle sets the tone for the entire business process. It’s critical to your company’s success to look for more than just document automation.
The following extra benefits describe the additional sustainability of contract workflows when a full contract management system supports those processes.
Why contracts should be tracked
By selecting document automation and generation software that saves each agreement and workflow, you can clearly see which agreements are scheduled for renewal, which ones are about to expire, and which ones are affected by new legal standards that require compliance.
Tracking contracts allows you and your Legal team to use a unique dashboard to visualize what needs to be done to move an agreement forward and to identify the personnel responsible for those changes. These dashboards allow you to see the entire lifecycle of a contract and identify where each contract is every step of the way and their status at any given moment.
Improve your next agreement
Use data from previous contracts and agreements to improve prospective contracts. When you gather details of your contract workflow, you can actually visualize which part of the contractual process took the longest, who was responsible for the delay, and what to adjust or change for your next agreement.
Insights from analytics
When you store your contracts, agreements, and associated documents in a cloud-based storage facility like Ironclad’s Contract Repository, you can easily use our DOCX system to merge with Word documents, while still being able to export reports to Excel. These contract management analytics help you track all of your workflows in a way that provides useful data about how long it takes you to complete certain contracts and what exactly caused any delays.
The additional benefit of having an advanced contract repository mechanism that instantly collects metadata is that it allows you to refine your process by uncovering the tremendous insights that are available when you collect metadata on every document stored in the repository.
Not only does the cloud-based document repository help you perform advanced searches for any document, but it also provides you with reports and visualizations that go beyond a simple document generation or automation program.
Advanced search options
Contracts and agreements are full of important identifying information, Your contract lifecycle (CLM) software should let you search your contract repository for any of the following fields:
- Name of your counterparty
- Who initially sent the contract
- Who the contract was assigned to
- Who created the document
- How long it took for the contract to be completed
- Effective dates
- Expiration dates
- Critical renewal dates
Ironclad lets you search through your contract workflows with greater adaptability and more precise filters of your own choice and creation, including all active and completed contracts. Learn about Ironclad’s pricing options.
Specific limits on access
With the precise digital contracting software and CLM system, your automation software will let you set user permissions by department, contract type, company role, or other criteria.
In most cases, everyone doesn’t need the same access to contracts and other private data. For example, HR or Procurement teams shouldn’t have access to sensitive legal documents, or they could inadvertently generate or send out binding legal agreements. The most useful software will allow you to define parameters and assign access based on company positions, departments, and roles.
One seamless experience
You can cover any possible contract pathway in one seamless experience that looks simple on the surface but is very complex below. That complexity is easily manageable because of the point-and-click nature of Ironclad’s Workflow Designer. As one of Ironclad’s greatest strengths, you don’t just generate the right template, you can actually carry over the correct conditionality for that template and make sure that conditionality also reaches the launch form.
For example, the Legal team at Mastercard was able to use Ironclad to simplify the changes in its many non-disclosure agreement (NDA) types. The ability to make the changes part of a direct and simple experience for any business user is crucial to ensuring compliance. Mastercard’s Managing Counsel noted that contracts requiring 48 hours suddenly only needed 24, something that could not be achieved without Ironclad.
Save valuable legal time
Avoiding the expense of a Legal team, department, or law firm taking the time to review and approve all contracts can significantly mitigate legal expenses. With Ironclad, it’s possible to create and negotiate binding legal contracts from the generation of the initial contract launch, through counterparty negotiations, and finally the signature page, all in one smooth contract management process.
Ironclad’s Workflow Designer also assists companies by ensuring that contracts are in legal and organizational compliance, all without the slow and painstaking requirement of manual review.
Legal operations teams can access up-to-the-minute templates and generate contracts with the confidence that they are 100% in contract compliance. This is achieved by storing all contracts in one safe place.
Redlining in real-time
In any contract management system, redlining is an integral part of contract generation and negotiation. You may be forced to put significant projects on hold while tedious negotiations take place.
The process is more immediate and efficient when your contract tracking software has a real-time redlining capacity that speeds up any collaborative process. Moreover, you eliminate compatibility issues because all parties view and make changes within the same software.
Instant contract redlining allows for more streamlined negotiations. The Ironclad Editor has a user-friendly interface and also tracks every development and supervening change while letting you tag colleagues in comments. The actual CLM system displays real-time updates to all individuals viewing the contract while integrating with well-known business tools your colleagues may already be using.
AES 256-bit encryption
Your company’s most sensitive information may not be safe if you haven’t made efforts to secure your contracts or your contract management process. These documents include:
- Offer letters
- Proposed arrangements
- Security documents
- HR accommodations
- Secret negotiations
- Personal data
- Company data
A secure automated process coupled with an excellent contract lifecycle management system will keep the data in your contracts and other relevant documents safe.
Ironclad uses enterprise-level security, relying on AES 256-bit encryption and TLS 1.2 or higher. Regular penetration and vulnerability testing on all systems are bolstered by being SOC 2, Type II certified and GDPR compliant.
Available contract management security should incorporate protections against both external and internal threats, and have the capability to respond to both.
An end-to-end solution
The goal of using document automation within an end-to-end CLM solution is to manage and streamline business contracts with 100% compliance using a simple point-and-click system.
In 2021, Ironclad received the award for Contract Lifecycle Management For All Contracts from the leading independent analyst publication, The Forrester Wave,™ and was also recognized as one of the 20 Rising Stars on the Forbes Cloud Top 100 Companies. As the only CLM platform with the flexibility to handle all types of workflows, Ironclad goes far beyond a basic document automation tool and can evolve with your business at every level.
Ironclad is not a law firm, and this post does not constitute or contain legal advice. To evaluate the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability of the ideas and guidance reflected here, or the applicability of these materials to your business, you should consult with a licensed attorney. Use of and access to any of the resources contained within Ironclad’s site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and Ironclad.
- What is document automation/generation software?
- How automation software can improve your business
- Additional benefits of an end-to-end contract management system
- An end-to-end solution
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