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Moving Beyond Old-School Contracting Processes

October 21, 2022

Legal Talent Outsourcing

Digital Manifesto: Let’s Move Beyond Old-School Contracting Processes

According to a survey conducted by Paradoxes Inc. on behalf of DocuSign, nearly 68% of legal departments say that “digitizing manual processes” is a top priority. While I’m not an in-house counsel, I am a consumer of legal services, and I couldn’t agree more. With all of the technology at our fingertips, it’s remarkable how many business processes, including commercial contracting, remain antiquated and analog. When we fail to modernize such processes with inexpensive, simple and accessible technology, it has real consequences. I speak from experience.

Recently Lexitas secured new office space in New York City. The process went relatively smoothly during the negotiations over the lease agreement, and the parties struck a deal. All that was left was execution, and that’s where the frustration began. What should have been a simple process turned into a tumultuous one which delayed closing for a week. The problem? The landlord’s insistence on four signed and notarized hard copies of the lease agreement.

I know this sort of process used to be standard, and apparently it still is for some, but seriously, can we move beyond the headaches and wasted time that comes with it? It doesn’t take a supercomputer to figure out how much productivity is being lost to manual contracting processes.

We have the click-of-a-button technology to execute contracts electronically. And there are virtually no legal or bureaucratic obstacles to doing so either in our post-COVID world. New York state law, for example, allows remote notarization and explicitly states that electronic signatures have the same force and effect as ink signatures.

It’s almost 2023! We can and should do better.
 

The Importance of Digitizing Manual Contracting Processes

I wanted to highlight my recent experience because it shows how, even when dealing with a commercial lease agreement, manual processes can slow things down. While we ultimately finalized the agreement, time is an enemy when it comes to closing deals. And for many businesses, the high volume and complexity of their commercial contracts are enough of an impediment to getting deals done—they can’t afford additional obstacles in the form of outdated manual processes.

That’s why it’s so important that businesses digitize and automate as much as possible across their entire contract lifecycle management processes. Doing so lowers friction, reduces errors, cuts costs, and drives revenue because more deals get done more quickly. 

And digitization and automation isn’t just good for dealings between businesses regarding their commercial contracts. Individual consumers of goods and services appreciate the seamlessness of, for example, checking in online before a doctor appointment, electronically signing a brokerage agreement, and creating a restaurant reservation with the click of a button, as well.

So what keeps businesses from automating and digitizing manual processes? In most cases, it’s inertia.  They’re not sure where to start when it comes to reinventing a paper-based contracting process that’s been in place for decades.

Our advice is to start small. Find a few low-barrier entry points into digitizing processes, such as implementing electronic signatures and digital storage of executed agreements, and build from there. At Lexitas, when we do commercial contract outsourcing work for clients, we’re always looking for ways to streamline processes through automation and digitization.

Starting small allows for progress instead of overwhelm, and once one step is taken it’s easier to take another. As Gartner found in its research, “Once a business process is converted from paper processes to digital workflows, it will become ‘the new normal’—reflecting the next stage of the digital transformation.” There’s a big dividend available from this sort of digital transformation. According to McKinsey, “by digitizing information-intensive processes, costs can be cut by up to 90 percent and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude.”

Want to seize the opportunity? When it comes to optimizing commercial contract processes, Lexitas can help. We can review your current process, suggest and help implement improvements, and completely document the final process so the work is done the way you want it, every time.

Contact us to learn more.
 
Author Image

Meron Hewis

President, Legal Talent Division

Meron Hewis is the President of the Legal Talent Outsourcing Division of Lexitas. Ms. Hewis has over 20 years of experience in legal consulting, project management, and alternative legal talent outsourcing solutions. She is a thought leader in the industry, providing unique legal solutions and designing the operations of various legal programs internationally.

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