Key findings from Forrester’s State of Systems of Agreement Report
We recently commissioned Forrester to speak to 1,087 global manager-level and above technology purchasing decision-makers, to get a 2021 snapshot of how organisations are using digital tools to speed up, de-risk, and generally enhance the process of getting business contracts signed, shared and stored.
You can read the full report now, or read on for some of the key stats and insights. In particular, use our breakdown below to see how mature your organisation is when it comes to preparing, acting on and managing business agreements.
First, though, why take the digital route?
Here are the top five reasons why organisations want to modernise their systems of agreement:
- Improve customer experience with faster access to documents and a more streamlined experience (48%)
- Improve security, confidentiality and compliance with clearer tracking and monitoring of documents and approvals (45%)
- Accelerate revenue by reducing transaction cycle times and closing business faster (39%)
- Provide greater agility, such as the ability to make changes faster (37%)
- Reduce costs, such as eliminating costs associated with paper-based transactions (37%)
What does the digital route look like?
Over the next 12 months, around one-third of organisations are planning to implement or upgrade their systems of agreement in the following areas:
- Fulfilling agreements
- Digitally managing and analysing completed agreements
- Preparing and collaborating on agreements
- Getting digital signatures on agreements
Where does your organisation fall on the sliding scale?
As we explored in an earlier blog, the Forrester report found stark differences when it comes to the maturity of organisations’ agreement processes – with 34% classified as digital laggards, 46% neutral, and 20% disruptors. Let’s break this down a little further to help you identify where your organisation would fall on the sliding scale of digital maturity, by looking at different elements of the agreement process.
For each of these elements, we’ve listed the responses from least mature to most mature, and included the proportion of organisations that currently fall into each category.
1. The process of preparing agreements
- Our agreements are standard forms that we put on our website for customers/collaborators/ employees to fill in directly (5%)
- Our agreements are prepared manually each time, from scratch (16%)
- Our agreements are prepared manually each time, by copying and changing an existing agreement (37%)
- Our agreements are prepared from templates, where an employee manually fills in the fields (35%)
- Our agreements are prepared from templates, where most/all of the fields are automatically filled in with data from our system of record (7%)
2. Collecting signatures
- Most or all agreements are generally faxed, posted or emailed and then printed and physically signed; then posted, faxed or scanned/emailed back to us (8%)
- Some agreements in one or two departments of our organisation are signed digitally (e.g. using digital signature software), while others are still sent out for physical signature (19%)
- Most or all of our organisation’s agreements are routed and signed digitally (49%)
- Most or all our organisation’s agreements are signed digitally, and we are able to digitally verify signers’ identities in accordance with the legal requirements of different regions (24%)
3. Acting on agreements
- Most or all information in signed agreements must be re-keyed into other systems of record, and employees must take additional actions to create work orders, invoices, inventory, inventory purchases, payments etc (8%)
- Some information in signed agreements is automatically captured in systems of record, while others are still manually entered, and employees must take additional action to create work orders, invoices, inventory purchases, payments etc (37%)
- Most or all of the information in agreements is automatically captured in systems of record and some actions are automatically triggered, including work orders, invoices, inventory purchases etc (46%)
- Most or all of the agreements are automatically uploaded into systems of record and automatically trigger predefined workflows such as the creation of work orders, invoices, inventory purchases, payments etc (10%)
4. Storing and managing agreements
- Most agreements are printed and stored in filing cabinets, or saved on employee hard drives and shared drives across the organisation, and manual searching is needed to locate specific agreements (16%)
- Most or all agreements are stored digitally but not in a way that they can all be searched from one interface (39%)
- Most or all agreements are stored in a way that the contents can be searched from one interface (34%)
- Most or all of the agreements are stored in a way that they can be searched and analysed, not just with human-provided keywords but also concepts or other AI-like techniques (10%)
Analytics remains an area of opportunity
Interestingly, the vast majority of respondents in the Forrester survey (69%) are still using manual processes for analysing the contents of agreements, with the legal team literally poring over them word for word, sometimes with assistance from outside counsel. Only 4% of respondents use contract analytics to identify and track risks and opportunities in both pre- and post-executed contracts.
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