5 Key Recommendations from Forrester State of Systems of Agreement Report 2020

Agreements such as sales contracts and offer letters keep the wheels of business in motion. Without these agreements, business activity would grind to a halt. So why, if they are so important, do a surprising 98% of firms have problems efficiently preparing, signing, acting on and managing their agreements? Why are only 2% of firms nailing their agreement processes?

This striking statistic was one of the key insights coming out of the The State of Systems of Agreement, 2020, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of DocuSign. Forrester surveyed 954 global technology purchasing decision makers to gauge where their organisations are at when it comes to the digitisation of critical business agreements. The results are telling. By and large, business leaders lament the fact that their systems are still hampered by manual processes – citing issues like a poor customer experience, delays in starting projects and realising revenue, and unnecessary costs.

The challenges are rife. As the table below shows, businesses face hurdles at every step of the agreement process – from having to rework agreements in the preparation phase due to manual errors, to lack of visibility when agreements are signed, to an inability to quickly search the contents of signed agreements.

Forrester data

Reasons why problems keep cropping up

There are two main reasons why the issues above keep presenting themselves. The first is that agreement processes are still largely manual and hampered by business inefficiencies – nine out of 10 companies still manually input information, copy and change agreements, and create new agreements from scratch.

The second is that, while digital tools are being adopted, they aren’t necessarily connected. While many companies have started on the journey towards automation of agreements by implementing solutions like eSignature, there are manual points in the process that still hold them back. They lack an end-to-end automation strategy.

The opportunity for change

While it’s clear that organisations have a lot of work to do to modernise their systems of agreement, the good news is that many are already reaping the benefits of digitising parts of their agreement process. A better customer experience (55%), faster deal cycles (51%) and lower error rates (48%) are the top three benefits stated by the respondents in the study.

When companies automate more of the agreement process, benefits like these will certainly grow. Question is, where should they start?

In the study, Forrester makes five key recommendations for organisations that are keen to improve their systems of agreement:

1. eSignature is critical to automation With end-to-end automation a growing focus within business, it’s more important to think about the ability to not only provide electronic signature capabilities, but to do so in the context of an overall automated process.

2. Look beyond eSignatures when shaping your automation strategy

In order to provide automation at the scale required to drive digital transformation, your system of agreement solutions must be designed to integrate with other parts of your automation portfolio.

3. Focus on customer and employee outcomes Keep the focus on business goals, and then look at how technology can support those goals. Business goals first, technology second.

4. Create a governance strategy that assumes wide-scale deployment Assume that digital transformation will require automation at a scale not yet achieved. Also assume that the processes required to achieve this scale will cross organisational boundaries and heterogeneous technology stacks.

5. Continue driving standardisation to support digital transformation

Standardisation is critical when you are linking processes across large numbers of users and multiple stakeholders, both internally and externally. This applies to security, privacy, compliance, integration and training and sets a foundation to address each area’s challenge at scale.

To learn more about the Forrester findings , read the full study.

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