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White Paper Automate Contract Workflows


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Contract Management Software white paper

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White Paper Automate Contract Workflows

  1. 1. Automate Your Contract Workflows With Contract Management Software — Reduce Operational Costs 75% Annually. The practice of allocating more and more labor to relieve paperwork bottlenecks is becoming antiquated. More and more, organizations are beginning to automate their contract workflows through technology. In the past, this technology was expensive and time-consuming to implement and manage. The contract management software market has been revitalized with powerful technology that is affordable, rapid to implement and provides a compelling return on investment.
  2. 2. Automate Your Contract Workflows With Contract Management Software — Reduce Operational Costs 75% Annually Automate your contract workflows - save time and money What is “contract management software” and how does it differ from “e-signature” technology? Is contract management software right for you? The toxic impact of paper on our global environment Why are companies transitioning from paper to contract management software? Step one: Contract preparation Step two: Distribute the contracts Step three: Business process — route the contracts Step four: Correct errors Step five: Store the contracts Step six: Retrieve the contracts Return on investment — Insurance broker case study Process improvement calculations Data-entry cost Distribution cost Data error-checking cost Filling and retrieval cost CONTENTS Abandoned documents The bottom line Agreement Express by Recombo™ — The Fastest Way to Automate Your Contract Workflows - Saving You Time & Money Contract handling Creating digital contracts Distributing and monitoring digital contracts Storing completed contracts Retrieving completed contracts Electronic signature enabler Authentication Workflow engine Contract routing Business rules Supporting documentation Rapid integration engine Hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) architecture Front-end integration CRM integration Web-site integration Summary Cover l 1 l 1 l 1 l 2 l 3 l 3 l 3 l 4 l 4 l 5 l 8 l 8 l 9 l 9 l 9 l 10 l 11 l 9 l 10 l 4 l 2 l 5 l 5 l 6 l 6 l 7 l 10 l 10 l 10 l 10 l 10 l 10 l 11 l 11 l 11 l 11 l 12 l
  3. 3. Recombo | White Paper 1 What is “contract management software” and how does it differ from “e-signature” technology? E-signature technology enables users to place a digital signature onto a contract. The capability is certainly a component of improved efficiency — but it is just a start. A complete contract management software system eliminates waste by automating the entire workflow. The significant technical break-through is that it enables users to control not just contract images, but also the data elements within the contracts. The ability to manage at the data level opens up new automation possibilities. For example, you can import and populate contracts from a variety of sources (Customer Relationship Management, Sales Force Automation, Excel spreadsheets, ERP systems, etc.), move the data into other contracts relevant to the particular transaction, verify data-entry at the time contracts are filled-in, map contract data fields into internal systems, and much more. Business contracts are the foundation upon which businesses are built — whether they are legally binding terms and conditions between business partners, customers and suppliers, exchanges of promises between internal departments, new employees and employers, or informal approvals. Often individuals or entire departments are dedicated to administering contract workflow — creating, publishing, routing to signatories, data-correcting, filing and retrieving paperwork. The accepted paradigm — paper-based contract workflow — is a waste of resources. It is clumsy, time-consuming and expensive. By automating your contract workflow process, you not only reduce your carbon foot-print, but also realize the cost and time savings in eliminating paper from the process. This white paper highlights strategies and best practices for you to optimize your contract workflow that includes creating, distributing, signing, storing and retrieving business contracts for the purpose of maximizing financial and operational performance. Is contract management software right for you? The benefit of contract management software is to drive down costs by automating the repeatable aspects of creating, distributing, signing and storing paperwork. It is not well-suited for processes where the bulk of the time is spent negotiating the terms of the contract and where the sign-off process is simple. Two examples of this are mergers and acquisitions or settlement contracts. Contract management software is best suited for organizations with high volumes of similar transactions with a complex signatory routing process. The case study used in this white paper deals with insurance application forms, but there are innumerable situations where automation can quickly eliminate wasted resources. Some examples of this are: securities broker new account openings, employee pay stubs and benefits statements, account transfer forms, merchant card service on-boarding, and so on. “...But Automating Workflows Delivers The Value. The signing process is the keystone of the execution of a legally or administratively binding agreement. However, as central as it is, the signature itself is only one part of the overall document or business process life cycle; the true value to an organization lies in replacing all paper-based processes with electronic ones and securely automating as many previously manual steps and procedures as possible. ”Forrester Research, Inc. January, 2010 Market Overview: E-Signatures in 2010 Automate your contract workflows - save time and money
  4. 4. Recombo | White Paper 2 Why are companies transitioning from paper to contract management software? A paper-based contract life-cycle process is clumsy, time-consuming and costly. It requires human labor to create, arrange for distribution, follow-up with signatories, error-check, file and retrieve. It is prone to errors every step of the way, often uses expensive, time-consuming courier or mail services, and offers little control over the status of distributed contracts — have signatories received them? Have they looked at them yet? Are they lost in transit? Or is the signatory shopping around for a better deal with a competitor? Contract management software optimizes every step of the process from contract creation, through distribution, completion, and application of business rules, to filing and retrieval. It improves profit and cash flow by dramatically reducing the number of people required to administer contracts and by speeding up the approval process. To understand how organizations are benefiting from this advancement in digital technology, we need to take a closer look at each step of the contract workflow process. Paper consumption is costly to the environment; it makes up the largest component of solid waste by weight. In the U.S. alone, over 40% of municipal solid waste is paper — about 71.8 million tons each year; enough to build a 12-foot high wall from New York to California. The process of producing paper requires huge amounts of water and electricity. To make paper white, it is bleached; the most common bleaching agent is chlorine that can find its way into our waterways. The plastic from toner cartridges discarded into landfills takes more than 1000 years to decompose. Ninety-five percent of business information is still stored on paper… There are some options for organizations that wish to make environmentally friendlier choices: Recycle your paper. Recycling 1 short-ton (0.91 t) of paper saves: 17 mature trees• 7 thousand US gallons (26 m3) of water• 3 cubic yards (2.3 m3) of landfill space• 2 barrels of oil (84 US gal or 320 l)• 4,100 kilowatt-hours (15 GJ) of electricity —• enough energy to power the average American home for six months (Wikipedia). Choose totally chlorine-free (TCF) paper. This is environmentally preferable to “elementally chlorine-free” (ECF) paper, which is bleached with chlorine derivatives that produce toxic chlorinated compounds. There are also many websites that offer information on this type of paper; Google search “totally chlorine-free paper vendors” to learn more about this type of paper. Recycle toner cartridges. Many retailers who sell toner may offer a trade-in value for a new one. There are also many websites that offer cash for used cartridges; search for keyword “recycle toner cartridges” to learn more. Reduce your use of paper. The most environmentally sound decision is to use less paper. Digital agreement workflow technology offers the opportunity to drive costs down and increase productivity, while making a lighter environmental impact. The toxic impact of paper on our global environment
  5. 5. Recombo | White Paper 3 Step one: Contract preparation The first step is to create a contract. Using a desktop word-processing solution (Word, Google docs, PDF, etc.), an administrator populates the contract with relevant data for each transaction, such as names, dates, dollar values, and so on. This is time-consuming, expensive and susceptible to data-entry errors. Contract management software reduces the possibility of errors, by enforcing rules about the format and type of data that is entered into each field. Furthermore, it is no longer necessary to manually enter data. Costs can be driven down by: Automatically populating contracts with data• from internal systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Force Automation (SFA), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and others. Integrating contracts with web sites offers two• benefits. The first, is that it enables customers to enter data into contracts in a self-serve model. This effectively eliminates internal data-entry costs. The second, is that integrating contracts into web sites provides signatories with a guided form-filling process. This is important for revenue-centric contracts where the customer experience is critical in keeping abandonment rates as low as possible. Business contracts often require follow-on documents that need to be signed. Insurance application forms may require an authorization for the individual to submit to a medical test, an authorization to take automated withdrawals from the bank, a void check, and other documents. These need to be assembled into a package and prepared for distribution — usually by standard mail or courier. Contract workflow management has the ability to package together the relevant forms and contracts, capture data once, automatically populate relevant contracts, and instantly distribute them on-line or via e-mail. This drives distribution costs down and eliminates errors. Step two: Distribute the contracts Shipping paper has a number of shortcomings: Costly: Arranging for distribution, couriers, mail,• and so on. Slow-moving: Physically shipping paper to and• from signatories, chasing signatories to correct errors, and supply supporting documentation, and so on. Contracts distributed by courier, e-mail or fax have the additional problem of lost visibility. Once contracts are sent, the publisher has no idea of their status. Are they in transit to or from signatories? Are they sitting unsigned on someone’s desk? Or has the prospect moved on to a competitor? Contract management software eliminates distribution costs, and accelerates completion rates. It provides visibility into every step of the process, so bottlenecks can be identified and the appropriate action taken. Step three: Business process — route the contracts Many companies in industries such as merchant card services, securities brokerages, insurance brokers, etc., publish high volumes of contracts every week. Manually routing contracts to the correct signatories, in the correct order, and re-directing as required, by any other business rule is labor-intensive. Routing Imagine an insurance broker accepting new applications. First, applicant information has to be completed; it goes to the broker for error- checking, then on to the underwriter for approval, then back to the individual for final sign-off. At this point, a number of supporting documents — void check, automatic withdrawal approval, and so on, must be attached. Then the package goes to the broker for storage with a copy to the underwriter. All this routing uses up valuable human resources and is prone to error. Contract management software automates this entire process — not only driving the human resource cost down, but also providing a superior customer experience that helps to reduce the number of transactions that are abandoned. Business flow rules Contract routing can be further complicated by business rules. For example, the insurance application may go to an internal employee with a pricing matrix, but if the characteristics of the individual are out of the norm, the application may need to go to a different department for special pricing. Once again, this causes unnecessary costs and delays in processing the application. Contract management software reduces costs by automating the process.
  6. 6. Recombo | White Paper 4 Step four: Correct errors In the middle of the routing process, contracts can get bottlenecked when the client returns them with incorrect or missing information. Contract management software can: a) Enforce rules on data fields to ensure they are completed correctly, and b) Ensure that correct supporting documentation is present and included with the package. Step five: Store the contracts Does your company consider contracts to be a critical business asset? Do you know where specific contracts are at this moment? Storing paper contracts makes them susceptible to misplacement, wandering eyes, loss, or even theft. Digital contracts are never lost, can be easily secured, and are always available. Furthermore, completed contracts or the data fields within the contracts can be automatically mapped and stored in back-office systems. Step six: Retrieve the contracts It is inevitable that completed contracts will need to be retrieved. Paper contracts have limited indexing options, which can make it cumbersome or even unrealistic to compile reports. An equipment leasing company may choose to file contracts alphabetically by customer. This causes a problem when the leasing firm wants to assemble a group of leases signed between a certain date range, asset type, or risk category. Managing data within contracts is a paradigm shift, that offers unlimited file-indexing options. Users can retrieve individual or groups of contracts by any data variable within the contracts such as names, dates, dollar amounts, addresses, signatories, and more; or by characteristics such as published, viewed, completed, contract creator, publisher, and more.
  7. 7. Recombo | White Paper 5 Businesses exist to grow profits. Regardless of how well a new technology improves a business process, the decision to implement it must be justified by a significant positive impact to the bottom line. Return on investment — Insurance broker case study For the purposes of analysis, this section uses the following case study: Company type: insurance broker• Agreement project: individual insurance;• new applications Volume: 300 applications per month; 3,600• per year. Number of insurance applications per year 3,600 Employee cost per hour $20 Time of labor to enter data in to contracts (minutes per contract) 20 minutes $6.67 TOTAL COSTS OF DATA-ENTRY $24,000 Process improvement calculations Data-entry cost Assuming that each insurance application takes a data-entry administrator twenty minutes and labor expense is twenty dollars per hour, the total annual cost of this activity is $24,000 per year. Contract management software has three levels of data-entry options, each with greater levels of automation: Using the technology natively, employees can1. rapidly fill-in a pre-built contract template. Via integration with internal software2. systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Sales Force Automation (SFA), contracts can be populated by a single click. The technology can also be integrated with3. web sites so that data-entry can be off- loaded to external signatories (customers, partners, and so on) effectively eliminating data-entry cost.
  8. 8. Recombo | White Paper 6 Distribution cost The two costs associated with distributing paper contracts are labor and shipping. Assuming 75% of these insurance contracts are shipped via standard mail, 10% by courier and the remaining by fax and e-mail, the total cost of distribution is $18,165 annually. Contract management software distributes contracts via e-mail, completely eliminating courier and standard mail costs. Additionally, the technology can be integrated with web sites and other internal software systems to automate the distribution of contracts without using any labor. In our insurance example, customers fill-in applications on-line and click “send” when they are completed. The contract is then automatically launched into the signature routing workflow. Distribution (%) Distribution (# of docs) Admin time (min.) Admin costs Shipping cost Shipping extended E-mailed 10% 360 5 $600 $0 $0 Faxed 5% 180 5 $300 $0 $0 Standard mail 75% 2,700 10 $9,000 $0.75 $2,025 Courier 10% 360 10 $1,200 $14 $5,040 100% 3,600 $11,100 $7,065 TOTAL DISTRIBUTION COSTS $18,165 Data error-checking cost After the insurance application forms have been completed, a percentage will have missing or incomplete information (either data errors in the application, or missing supporting documentation, such as void checks or bank statements). Assuming that 25% need to be error-checked and each contract takes thirty minutes to check, chase down signatories, and secure corrections and supporting documentation, the cost of this task is $9,000 annually. Number of insurance applications per year 3,600 Percentage of returned contracts that require error-checking 25% Amount of error-checking time per contract (minutes) 30 Employee hourly rate $20 TOTAL COSTS OF ERROR-CHECKING $9,000 Contract workflow management provides data error-control in two important ways: The data fields (dates, amounts, text,1. signatures, and so on) are very much like fields in a database. You can assign data- entry rules to them ensuring contracts are filled-in correctly. You can set up the contract management2. software system to enforce rules for supporting documentation. The combination of these two features effectively cuts data error-checking costs to zero.
  9. 9. Recombo | White Paper 7 Filing and retrieval cost Once the insurance contracts have been completed and error-checked, they need to be filed. Furthermore, once they are filed, a portion will invariably need to be retrieved at some point. We estimate filing and retrieval costs to be $8,400 per year. There are a number of filing options with contract management software: By default, contracts are automatically filed1. on the platform. Contracts can be automatically filed in,2. internal back-office systems and deleted from the platform. Contracts can be maintained in both the3. platform and internal back-office systems (the platform thereby effectively acting as back-up). Digital contracts are always available and secure. They can be retrieved instantly by: Internal data element(s) in the contract(s) such• as: signatory names, dates, amounts, percent- ages, etc. Meta-data associated with the contract(s)• such as: publisher names, published status (opened, unopened, signed), publication date, etc. Number of insurance applications per year 3,600 Employee hourly rate $20 Average time to file contracts (minutes) 5 $1.67 Percentage of contracts needing to be filed 100% 3,600 $6,000 Percentage of contracts needing to be retrieved 20% 720 Average time to retrieve 10 $3.33 $2,400 TOTAL FILING AND RETRIEVING COSTS $8,400
  10. 10. Recombo | White Paper 8 Abandoned documents Contract management software helps improve close rates in three important ways: Immediacy.1. There is no waiting for documents to arrive. Once the data is filled-in, signatories receive them instantly. For competitive markets like insurance, securities, and merchant card services, this enables sales people to close new accounts quickly. Visibility.2. Unlike paper documents that go into a black hole once they have been distributed, digital documents are always visible. As a result, sales people know when to make calls to ensure the documents get signed. Number of deals quoted per year 3,600 Percent of abandoned deals 3% Number of abandoned deals 108 Potential decrease in abandoned deals with contract management software 30% Potential additional deals 32 Value of abandoned deal $850 TOTAL OPPORTUNITY COST OF ABANDONED DEALS $27,540 The bottom line In our example, the combined cost to complete each application form is $16.54 for a total of $59,565 per year. Add to this $27,540 annual revenue loss of abandoned applications, brings the total paper-based cost to $87,105 annually. Improved customer experience.3. By integrating with web sites, signatories can be guided through the form-filling process, making it effortless to quickly complete a document. Let’s assume a 3% abandonment rate, and a value of $840 for each completed contract. Let’s also assume that more visibility and immediacy into the status of contracts coupled with a superior customer experience can improve this number by 30%. The opportunity cost will therefore be $27,540 annually. If we assume the annual cost of contract management software for this project is approximately $20,000, the total annual savings for the insurance broker is $67,105 — a 335% return on investment. For organizations that pay per contract for their contract management software system — the broker pays $5.55 per contract as opposed to the current $16.54 — an immediate 66% reduction. Total Per contract TOTAL ANNUAL OPPORTUNITY COST FROM PAPER CONTRACTS $27,540 TOTAL ANNUAL COSTS OF YOUR PAPER CONTRACTS $59,565 $16.54 $87,105 “Cost And Flexibility Needs Are Shaping The Market. Broadly speaking, realizing cost savings by eliminating the need to use, handle, and process paper and using the Web to speed up the process of acquiring customers and closing business are the two main reasons that e-signature adoption has significantly accelerated in recent years. ”Forrester Research, Inc. January, 2010 Market Overview: E-Signatures in 2010
  11. 11. Recombo | White Paper 9 Contract handling At the most fundamental level, Agreement Express enables organizations to efficiently manage contracts as they flow through each step required to move contracts through the approvals cycle: create, distribute, route, store and retrieve. Creating digital contracts Contracts (insurance application forms, employee offer letters, pay stubs, merchant on-boarding applications, etc.) are typically created with desktop publishing software such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, Google docs, etc. Once a contract has been created, it can be easily transformed into a fully-interactive digital contract in two ways: Browse for it on the desktop and upload directly• to Agreement Express. Use the Agreement Express Connector to• upload it from the print menu in any of the above mentioned desktop publishing software applications. Once the contract has been loaded into Agreement Express, data elements such as dates, names, amounts, percentages, text, formulas and signature blocks, can be easily dragged-and-dropped to the appropriate locations in the contract. Distributing and monitoring digital contracts Agreement Express documents are maintained at all times on centrally hosted servers in bank-grade secure facilities. When contracts are ready for signing, the various signatories are invited by e-mail to click a URL to review and sign them online. Before signatories can sign an contract, they are first authenticated using a method determined by the contract publisher (see the following section for more details on authentication options). From the Agreement Express dashboard, contract administrators can visually monitor the status of contracts — which signatories have not yet opened their contracts, who has viewed but not signed, and who has completed the contracts. Agreement Express by Recombo™ lets you rapidly automate the life cycle of your contracts, saving you time and money. You can implement Agreement Express in a week or less, to realize significant improvements in productivity. Agreement Express drives down your labor and distribution costs and delivers a return on investment in weeks, rather than years. It reduces or even eliminates labor costs across the entire contract life cycle process – preparing, distributing, routing, signing, error-checking, storing and retrieving. Agreement Express makes forms easy to complete, reducing abandonment rates, and helping you close more business. Agreement Express’ combination of four key elements make it an evolutionary leap forward in contract workflow automation: efficient contract handling, best-of-breed digital signature technology, robust workflow automation, and a rapid integration engine. “In today’s highly-competitive debt settlement arena, it is an essential service to expedite the signing of agreements in a timely fashion. I would rank Agreement Express as the #2 most prioritized software application our sales folks use (after our own CRM) today. ” Steve Kwan Marketing & Project Manager Freedom Financial Network, LLC Agreement Express by Recombo™ — The Fastest Way to Automate Your Contract Workflows - Saving You Time & Money
  12. 12. Recombo | White Paper 10 Storing completed contracts By default, contracts are stored on Agreement Express’ servers. They can also be downloaded to the desktop or automatically routed into back- office systems. Retrieving completed contracts Unlike traditional contracts that have limited indexing options — typically contract name, date saved, and type, Agreement Express enables users to manage contracts at the data level. Individual or groups of contracts can be rapidly retrieved from the Agreement Express server by any characteristic of the contract: contract type, date range, dollar amounts, names, percentages, and more. Electronic signature enabler Agreement Express is designed to optimize contract workflows that need formal or informal approval. Approvals usually (although not always) require a signature. As such, Agreement Express includes best-of-breed digital signature technology. Authentication When contracts are published, the various signatories receive an e-mail with a web link that connects them to the appropriate contracts. Each signatory is authenticated by one of the following methods that can either be third-party validated or company attested: “Password-based”• is for contracts with low-sensitivity or the signatories are well-known to each other. Authentication can be set to a simple password. “Wallet-based”• is for contracts with moderate sensitivity. Prior to logging into Agreement Express, the signatory is asked a series of ques- tions, such as driver’s license number, partial social security number, credit card number, etc.. “Credit based”• is for highly-sensitive contracts. Prior to logging into Agreement Express, the signatory is asked a series of questions pertain- ing to credit history, such as the bank where you do business, mortgage amounts, monthly payments, etc. Additionally, a full audit trail of activity is maintained for each contract, so that no contract can be fraudulently altered. Workflow engine A paper-based contract workflow wastes resources. Agreement Express can effortlessly automate even the most complex contract workflow. This automation is driven by three key elements: routing, business rules and supporting documentation. Contract routing One element of automating the approval process is to ensure that contracts get routed correctly. For example, contracts such as new account contracts require information to be filled-out first by the potential client, then by the company for quotation, and then back to the client for final signature. Final copies may need to be sent to the insurance or securities broker, client and underwriter, or other partners. Regardless of how complex the contract routing is, it can be rapidly automated with Agreement Express. Business rules The approval process may require that contracts be routed by decision-tree business rules. For instance, a new customer application may contain a question about payment method. If the customer chooses “direct withdrawal,” then the automatic withdrawal contract form needs to be completed and routed, as required. Supporting documentation Contracts often require supporting documentation. An insurance application will likely require a copy of a void check. Agreement Express ensures that upon contract completion, this type of supporting documentation is uploaded (by fax or scan copy), and included in the contract package.
  13. 13. Recombo | White Paper 11 Rapid integration engine Because of its hosted architecture and rapid integration engine, Agreement Express can be implemented in a fraction of the time — and at a dramatically lower cost — than has ever been possible before. Hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) architecture Unlike traditional software that is installed and maintained at the customer’s premise, Agreement Express is hosted at a central location and is maintained by Recombo. You do not install or maintain software, you simply click a link and login. As a result, you can begin to create and distribute digital contracts soon after you sign-up for the service Front-end integration In addition to manual data-entry, Agreement Express’ rapid integration engine provides two automated data-entry options — front-office integration and web-site integration. CRM integration A fast way to populate a contract with accurate data is via integration with your CRM or SFA. Rather than populate sales proposals manually, with SFA integration, sales people simply open customer records to launch the data-entry process automatically. For companies who publish large volumes of contracts, this can have a dramatic affect on employee costs and efficiency. Web-site integration Agreement Express provides a flexible, open API that enables you to rapidly integrate digital contracts into web sites. This enables you to improve the user experience, by providing guided form-filling, thereby improving contract completion rates. Additionally, offloading the form-filling process to external signatories effectively reduces data-entry costs to zero. Agreement Express’ integration engine also provides the capability to store contracts on internal back- office systems. Users can choose to store completed contracts on either or both of Recombo’s servers, and internal back-office systems. The advantages of storing on Recombo servers include multi-indexed contract retrieval and secondary back-up of contracts.
  14. 14. Recombo | White Paper 12 SUMMARY Agreement Express by Recombo™ is the fastest way to automate contract workflows, enabling organizations to rapidly tap into immediate cost-savings. In the past, organizations who wished to automate their contract workflows had to pay steep prices to install, maintain and customize heavy technology. All that has changed with Agreement Express — an affordable software service with a rapid integration engine, that automates contract workflows in less time — than ever before. Agreement Express is a registered trademark of Recombo Inc. All rights reserved. To learn more about Agreement Express, call us today at + 1.877.AGREE.XP (247.3397) or visit us at