Tech Tuesday: Put Your Contracts in the Cloud!

contract-sign-jason-saul-flickr-143443342_cca33b93a0_oNobody writes contracts like meeting planners. For any given conference, there can be dozen of contracts. These contracts are usually lengthy and quite detailed. Often these contracts are emailed or even faxed(!) to the signing party. This party then signs, copies and then scans or faxes back to the other party for countersigning – and the process repeats. This simple signing process consumes many hours for any given show. Given that meeting planners are usually strapped for time, doesn’t this seem like an easy area to improve?

Fortunately, there is great software in the marketplace for making the contracts process more efficient. At the heart of this is digital transaction technology or e-signatures. This process removes the old pen and paper signing process and replaces it with a digital signature. Typically the way this works is a new user to the contract software selects a signature image (or style) that simulates his or her physical signature. The process of picking a signature is a multi-step process to verify that the person is who they say they are. After this initial selection, all future contracts simply involve placing the signature at the appropriate part of the document.

With this in place, the contract signing process works as follows. First you upload the documents that need to be signed. You can identify any fields that need to be filled in such as company name, title and so forth. A workflow can also be identified such as who needs to be signed and notifications at each stage in the process. With this in place, you then email the first set of signatories to get everything moving. By the end of the process you will have completed documents with all fields filled in and the necessary digital signatures. These documents are legally enforceable and secure.

Here are some typical features of cloud-based contract software.

  • Templates for your common workflows. EventRebels uses the same template for 90% of our agreements. To get a contract signed we just invoke a template and email the signatory. People are notified when there is an action required such as a need for a signature. When the process is finished, EventRebels staff is notified that the contract is complete and ready for final filing.
  • Contracts can be viewed based on status such as in-process, awaiting action, completed and so forth.
  • Cloud-based software (or Software As A Service – SAAS) typically work with license fees rather than a large up front payment. Your payments are usually in smaller annual or monthly installments.
  • Contract products are often optimized to run on all your Apple and Android devices, often as apps. So it’s contracts anytime, anywhere!
  • Contracts can be tied to CRM systems such as Salesforce. This eliminates the final step of uploading the signed agreement to your membership/customer software.
  • High levels of security to protect your information.

Here are three of the leading cloud-based contract products.

  • Docusign: EventRebels favorite – easy to use, great Salesforce integration, cool apps, and even an Office plug-in.
  • Ariba Contract Management: An SAP company, Ariba is a more high-end solution with advanced features such as tools for negotiation.

If you are still faxing or emailing contracts, do yourself a favor, save a ton of time and move to the cloud!

Follow us on twitter for more articles like this posted every week!