Why Digital Solutions Will Be Key to Managing Contracts Remotely

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The circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated businesses to adopt remote working capabilities. Tech companies that provide communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft, Zoom, and Cisco saw surges in new customers as lockdowns forced companies to institute work-from-home policies.

Unfortunately, many businesses are struggling to cope. Depending on their industry, these business are unable to shift their important activities online. A number of publicly listed companies has already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While some countries are already relaxing their restrictions and are now allowing workplaces to operate at limited capacities, the threat of the coronavirus continues in the absence of a cure or vaccine. Remote work is the new normal.

Because of this, many companies are still intent on relying on digital channels to handle their workloads and ensure continuity. Crucial activities such as business contracts and agreements, which are conventionally undertaken manually and face-to-face, now also have to be done remotely.

Fortunately, solutions providers already acknowledge such a need and are offering services to help companies digitize their contract management tasks. Recently, document generation and automation platform DocFusion and corporate governance service ContractZen announced the integration of their solutions, providing a seamless and streamlined workflow for business agreements.

“Typically, business deals are made face-to-face and their agreements are embodied by signed contracts. However, we’re living in a different time where we’re forced to perform transactions through digital means. Our solution enables that, and, with our partnership with DocFusion, we can now provide a secure and streamlined workflow for business agreements,” ContractZen CEO Markus Mikola said.

For a number of companies, especially smaller operations, the contract management process has mainly been dealt with manually. Contract drafts were edited from existing templates with the details simply edited or inserted. Signing documents is also done physically and in face-to-face settings. Storing and archiving signed documents also means filing physical copies in cabinets.

This process is not only tedious but also risky. Manually creating and handling documents introduces the element of human error. It is quite common for staff to erroneously input details or even leave out crucial terms or provisions. Manual and physical archiving also carries risks. Searching for specific information about agreements can take time. Time-bound provisions can also be neglected should a party fail to monitor these milestones.

Such errors can have real financial costs. There have been several high-profile errors over the course of history that cost erring parties millions of dollars. Recently, Maine dairy company Oxford Dairy settled a lawsuit for $5 million due to an ambiguity caused by the lack of a comma in the state’s overtime law’s provisions.

“We believe that the ongoing digitalization within enterprises does not bring optimal results if it focuses on digitizing paper documents and trying to extract the important data with the help of expensive solutions. Rather, there should be a fundamental shift in thinking toward creating a fully digital process from start to finish,” Mikola added.

Digital solutions can be leveraged to minimize these issues. Using DocFusion, companies can create their own contract templates using drag and drop fields to specific sections that contain dynamic information. Rules and conditions can also be created so that only relevant terms are inserted to a document when certain conditions are met. This way, companies can prevent unnecessary changes from being made into the contracts.

ContractZen allows transacting parties to collaborate on contracts through virtual meetings and data rooms. It also allows for the digital signing of documents using electronic signatures which are now valid and binding based on the laws in many territories, including the US and the EU. Signed documents are also automatically tagged and archived on the cloud. The generated metadata helps users to easily pull up records in the future.

The integration between these two solutions merges DocFusion’s content creation capabilities with ContractZen’s document management service. Documents generated from DocFusion are automatically stored and managed in ContractZen. This creates a streamlined workflow that not only speeds up the process but also minimizes the potential areas where human error can be committed.

“Automating the rules-based document generation, in combination with auto classification and automatic uploading the documents into ContractZen, a normally repetitive, error-prone process, that relies heavily on the human in the loop, has been transformed into a seamless experience. This saves time, reduces errors, increases compliance, saves money, and ultimately leads to happy stakeholders who will be able to find their records when they need it most,” said DocFusion CEO Ernest Kleynhans.

The World Bank’s recent forecast projects that the global GDP will contract 5.2 percent in 2020. As such, businesses face great uncertainty moving forward. Ensuring business continuity is crucial for most operations to survive. Adopting solutions that allow for workloads to be performed digitally and remotely will be crucial. Contract management is clearly among the key business activities that companies must consider when digitizing their workloads. It ensures that companies are able to maintain business relationships through binding, error-free, and enforceable agreements.

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