Legal professionals deal with a complex array of documents, templates and contracts, each with their own status updates and workflow. For many organisations, the legal line of business function is largely manual and can be constrained by having to rely on outdated search methods and error-prone information flows. In this blog we look at how e-signatures can reduce legal costs and compliance risks.
Managing content for company legal requirements is still heavily dependent on highly skilled people who are continuously tied down with administration. In addition to the cost and inefficiencies of manual processes, paper legal documents (templates and signed copies) are difficult to search for and access. Additionally, without a robust workflow it’s too easy for employees to send out outdated contracts with incorrect terms.
In the paper world, senior management often don’t immediately know the status of legal documents and it can sometimes take days in turn-around time to transact business.
Your legal team wastes time if they are required to work on basic agreements such as NDAs and engagement terms, instead of focusing their attention to activities where their expertise will have the most impact.
Speeding up legal transactions with e-signatures
By their nature, many legal documents require ‘sign off’ by all the parties involved in an agreement, a process that can be digitised with e-signatures. Let’s take a look at how process improvement using digital technology can streamline legal operations, enhance security and reduce discovery time.
• Contracts: most of today’s contracts involve the lengthy ‘print-sign-scan-email’ process for approval. This process is time consuming, suffers from poor quality document reproduction and is often incomplete (i.e. one party signs, then never sees the final copy). e-signatures streamline this process significantly and don’t require a multifunction device. They also provide a solution where employees can create and send agreements electronically for approval and signatures. Depending on your company’s business rules, contracts that are low value, low risk, standard or do not require negotiation can now be automated.
• Workflows: with e-signatures and digital documents, your legal team can build workflows that follow your specified business rules. This ensures the right information and documents are automatically used every time, increasing the accuracy and completeness of your contracts and records. An intuitive drag-and-drop experience gives legal and contract management operations and business analysts the power to adapt prebuilt workflow templates, or build one from scratch.
• Approvals: approvals and sign off are essential parts of the legal process and e-signatures allow more than one stakeholder to approve something without having to travel to a certain location.
• Auditing and discovery: e-signature technology provides a real-time dashboard and audit trail to know exactly when and who kicked off a process, edited or signed a document, giving you a complete view of your company’s operations. You can also specify document visibility permissions based on user roles. For discovery, a digital repository is much easier to search than a cabinet of paper documents and you can also control who accesses the archives.
• Reducing document risk: an organisation is exposed to legal and business risk when staff unwittingly send out outdated versions of a contract, use the wrong terms, or include incorrect or missing information. Employees can also spend lots of time hunting for the right information, copying and pasting data and arranging information on every document they send out. Using e-signatures reduces the risks inherent in personal document management with a controlled process over how documents are generated.
The business benefits of e-signature technology will impact your entire operations – from discovery to employee satisfaction. Make end-to-end digital workflows and the paperless office a reality with trusted, legal electronic signatures. E-signature platforms like Adobe Sign accelerate the pace of business by working with your existing processes and systems, expediting transactions. The data is also protected with industry-leading security standards. And e-signatures can be used by organisations of all sizes, not just large enterprises.