One of the brilliant things about scrappy startups is their ability to move fast and innovate quicker than larger businesses. But that speed and innovation often come at a cost to important processes, like contract management.
In fact, better contract processes can help technology and SaaS companies achieve cost and revenue improvements of up to 7% of contract value, according to World Commerce and Contracting.
Contracts clearly matter to finance leaders more than other areas of the business, because they can help you drive strong financial management. That said, no CFO wants to spend time reading complex contracts or manually signing financial statements.
Contracts are a resource and time-intensive process. This is especially true in start-up and scale-up businesses that don’t have well-staffed legal and finance functions. As a company grows, CFOs often notice these common problems with contracts:
- losing track of where all of your different contracts are
- being unable to find specific details in contracts
- missing important contract dates and deadlines
- and lacking insight for decisions about customers and suppliers.
If you’re still creating contracts from Word templates, carrying out negotiations by email, or searching for important remarks in tracked changes, it’s probably time to look into a dedicated software solution.
Better ways to manage contracts and signatures
Contract management and eSignature software enable digital contract creation and signature collection and there are hundreds of solutions out there to choose from. Certain SaaS vendors sell tools that help any kind of business store and file contracts, while others provide focused offerings for specific industries or users, like in-house legal teams and law firms.
McKinsey estimates 40 percent of finance activities (such as cash disbursement, revenue management, and accounting operations) can be fully automated. Another 17 percent can be mostly automated. Contracts — and especially eSignatures — fall into that second category.
The three most popular tools among Cledara customers are:
- DocuSign, which enables easy contract collaboration and offers over 350 API integrations with partner solutions
- HelloSign, which streamlines sales contract and proposal signing, automates employee onboarding forms, and collects NDAs
- PandaDoc, which helps teams efficiently create, edit, and sign documents.
Here are our top five contract management and eSignature features to prioritize, whether your shortlist contains the trio of solutions above or a much wider field of vendors.
1. Automatic version control
Nearly all contract management software ensures your teams are always working from the latest contract version. They let you quickly cycle back through all the previous versions of the contract in the right order, and they also let you see who made important changes, and when. Similarly, a solid eSignatures tool ensures the right people are signing accurate contracts in the right order.
2. Access for key parties
The entire contract process is all about collaboration. The right people inside and outside of your company need to be able to access important documents easily. Leading contract management and eSignature tools should make it simple for you to get digital signatures for and from your customers, suppliers, vendors, and investors.
3. Practical contract templates
Most finance teams use a handful of contract types repeatedly. Think of NDAs, statements of work, shareholder agreements, or supplier contracts. Leading contract management platforms have a library of templates you can choose from. And they also let you add and update your own templates, so your team isn’t constantly rewriting common contract clauses or frequently removing the same irrelevant terms.
Robust template features are about more than convenience. They can also help your finance team manage risks and stay on top of compliance requirements in different markets. Contract management gets much faster once you’ve set up pre-approved clauses around common areas like tax obligations and payment terms.
4. Alerts and text reminders
You don’t want to miss important events around your contracts too. Contract management isn’t over when the contract is signed.
Legal teams know this and it’s why they talk about ‘contract lifecycle management’. CLM is all about managing project milestones, payment deadlines, renewal dates, and expiry dates. Most contract management software now includes alerts around critical events like these.
Good eSignature software also make clever use of alerts, prompts, and reminders too. For example, tools like DocuSign allow you to send SMS prompts to the counterparties involved in an agreement, to get deals signed off more quickly.
5. Negotiation support
Negotiating and deal-making are at the heart of good contract management. Negotiating takes up the most time in the entire contracting process, after the initial drafting. This is where you can achieve savings, where you can secure future revenue, and where the vendor risks can lurk. The top contract management software will support strong negotiating and good deal-making by giving you dedicated features to support deal flow.
For example, look out for providers that support ‘negotiation playbooks’. Playbooks help you efficiently access pre-approved clauses, dealbreakers, and non-negotiable areas for your company.
They can cover key areas like commercial-in-confidence information, intellectual property, equity, and majority and minority shareholdings. Playbooks can stop even the most experienced hands from straying from established contract standards.
Plus these essential features
These features below are tables stakes in any contract tool you’re evaluating:
- Centralized contract storage
- Robust search functionality
- User identity verification and security
- Integrations with eSignature tools
- Monitoring, reporting, and analytics
Get a better idea of the solutions you’re interested in by scheduling calls with vendors. A live product demo will give you a sense of how the tool works and give you time to ask the right questions.
Get the most from your software
Cledara helps you see how much software costs your business and how often it’s used. Learn how to buy software successfully, by downloading our Software Buying Guide for Startups or booking a demo today.
Contracts and eSignatures software comparison: DocuSign vs HelloSign vs PandaDoc
Every startup and scale-up executive eventually becomes familiar with the contract management process. Managing contracts can be a time-consuming and tedious task, but it's essential if you want to move quickly, comply with regulations and save money on important deals.
While there are several contract and eSignature tools on the market, the three most popular among Cledara users are DocuSign, HelloSign, and PandaDoc.
What contracts and eSignature software do
Contract management software provides a unified platform for you to manage your organization’s contracts. These tools allow you to create, negotiate, sign and renew contracts.
- Contract management software acts as a centralized and secure storage space so you will never have to worry about misplacing important contracts again.
- One of the most useful aspects of contract software is the signature function, which allows you to get legally binding signatures quickly and securely.
Why CFOs need contracts and eSignatures SaaS
As a CFO, you oversee many financial contracts, covering everything from employment and sales, to commercial property leases and business loans.
Contract management software provides a convenient way to manage contracts without having to print and sign physical copies, which reduces the chance of misplaced documents, the cost of office consumables, and valuable time. This also helps ensure compliance with regulations by providing a legal and binding way to sign documents electronically.
Comparing contracts and eSignatures SaaS: DocuSign, HelloSign, and PandaDoc
Have you spotted any risky loopholes in your contract management process? Or maybe you’re constantly struggling to locate contracts when needed, which leaves you facing bottlenecks and hampered productivity. Whatever your most significant pain point right now, it is crucial for you to understand your specific needs.
Think it’s time to invest in a contract management and eSignatures tool for your organization? Let’s look at the three most popular contract and eSignature SaaS tools among Cledara users: DocuSign, HelloSign, and PandaDoc.
We will share their main features, strengths, and limitations to give you a better idea of which one is right for your business.
First up, we have DocuSign, a leading provider of eSignature technology which you probably have heard of and used before. Founded in 2003 and headquartered in San Francisco, DocuSign is a cloud-based eSignature solution that helps businesses manage contracts and documents electronically. It's simple to use and offers a wide range of features, making it a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.
With DocuSign, users:
- Upload and sign documents electronically
- Track the status of documents in real-time
- Set up automatic reminders to ensure timely signatures.
DocuSign also offers integrations with Salesforce, Google Drive, and Microsoft Office 365.
In their own words: “More than a million customers and a billion users trust DocuSign with their critical and essential agreements.”
The software itself is secure and scalable, and it ticks all our boxes. However, some user reviews indicate dissatisfaction with customer service.
Make informed software decisions. Book a Cledara demo today.
Next up is HelloSign, a web-based eSignature solution by DropBox that helps businesses sign documents online quickly, easily, and securely. HelloSign boasts an award-winning user interface, robust admin controls, document tracking, and enterprise-grade security.
With HelloSign, users:
- Sign and request signatures online
- Increase document completions
- Send agreements fast
- Automatically file and store agreements.
HelloSign also offers intuitive templates and other nifty functions in an all-in-one platform.
In their own words: “Take the effort out of signing. HelloSign is the simple and secure way to sign agreements online.”
Look out for HelloSign’s variety of templates and team management functions. Keep in mind some users report restrictions about the number of documents they are allowed to send within 24 hours.
PandaDoc is a cloud-based document management software that helps create proposals, quotes, HR documents, and contracts. PandaDoc accelerates your document management processes by allowing you to merge contact, opportunity, and pricing details from your customer relationship management (CRM) software directly into your contracts. PandaDoc allows you to collaborate with your team by leaving comments within documents or using a general chat.
With PandaDoc, users:
- Customize, negotiate, and digitally sign complex contracts
- Access pre-approved clauses to build, customize and populate error-free contracts
- Use CRM integrations to include customer data in your contracts.
PandaDoc offers a simple approval process, signing order, and customizable user permissions to help streamline operations, automate tasks and improve organization.
In their own words: “See exceptional results. Our electronic signature software will improve your company’s processes, saving you time and money.”
Look at PandaDoc’s application tracking, a wide variety of app integrations, and analytics features. But note that some user reviews mentioned slow site speed and document load times.
Summary: DocuSign vs HelloSign vs PandaDoc
All three tools perform well on essential functions. This can make it hard to choose between them, so let’s consider what sets them apart.