One area that is often overlooked in the digitisation process is agreements, and many small business owners underestimate the direct impact it can have on the bottom line.

For all the big leaps forward technology enables, old-fashioned paperwork is still holding most businesses back.

Sure, sophisticated processes are now embedded in some areas of business. Automation is significantly transforming functions like human resources, distribution, manufacturing, supply and marketing, and has been for many years.

Untapped digital advantage

But, there’s one area of business that’s largely escaped digitisation; where paper and pen still rules. It’s the processes for preparing, signing, acting on and managing business agreements – known collectively as your System of Agreement.

When IT and line managers were asked about their experiences in managing a paper-based agreement process, they listed six big challenges:

  • Difficulty maintaining visibility into the location and status of agreements.
  • Lack of security associated with printed documents.
  • Difficulty administering and controlling documents over time.
  • Difficulty collecting and managing documents from multiple sources.
  • Pain of scanning and managing paper documents.
  • Cost and liability of human error through executing business processes manually.

Agreements are the beating heart of any business. Think of how sales contracts, employment offers, loan documents, invoice and expense processing and supplier compliance affect your productivity, costs and customer experience. They’re the foundation of profitability for any business. Leaving them until last when delivering tech improvements to your business simply doesn’t make sense.

Thankfully, the use of technologies – like eSignature – as a solution to better manage the agreement process is now permeating the business world and generating a big win for the bottom line.

Business risks of pen and paper

But, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong. The problem with manual processes, no matter how fine-tuned, is that they typically deliver slower turnaround times and are more likely to introduce errors. Inevitably, the bottom line takes a hit.

For example in preparing an agreement, people often end up rekeying data like customer, product or pricing information that already exists in another system. Then, when the agreement is completed, there’s extra work in manually transferring its terms into other systems, like billing systems. One distracting call, or night up seeing to the kids, and a costly slip is more than likely.

More than that, businesses that still use a paper-based System of Agreement run the risk that they’ll:

  • Waste time. Where once it was accepted that turning around an agreement could take days or weeks, with technology like auto field fill or eSignature it can and should be measured in hours or minutes.
  • Waste money. Did you know that where an agreement process has many manual steps, it will cost five to 10 times as much as an automated equivalent? Add that up over several agreements, if you dare.
  • Lose revenue to competitors who can deliver a faster, easier way of doing business. Especially with sales agreements, if a company’s closing process is slower and more difficult than its competitors, it’s likely business will be lost.
  • Damage customer and employee satisfaction with outdated paper processes that people don’t want. Amazon, Netflix and Uber have trained people to expect speed and simplicity in interactions with businesses. Companies that can’t keep up run the risk of alienating their customers and employees.
  • Risk legal and compliance exposure. Many companies can’t even find all their agreements, much less know that they’re secure and were executed in a legally enforceable way.

Save time and money

However, what it all boils down to for many businesses is simply the cost of doing business. According to a Total Economic Impact™ study, commissioned by DocuSign Australia and carried out by Forrester Consulting, eSignatures alone can contribute a cost saving of $14.21 per agreement. This is achieved by cutting the expense of paper and printing, postage, storage and misfiling. Other benefits include cost savings from improved sales productivity and better internal process productivity.

So, imagine applying those same benefits to the other parts of the agreement process. A modern System of Agreement, one that has been updated with the technology to automate and eSign throughout the stages of preparing, signing, acting on and managing agreements, is a small change to make to the way you do business for a big return on your investment. Think of the positive impact on your business’s bottom line by the simple ability to deal with every aspect of your business agreement online.

Discover a better way for small business to do agreements. Download the ‘Save time, save money: Digitise your business agreements’ ebook.

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