Best Contracts for Self-Service Workflows

Contracts in Self Service World-12

I can't go self-service; contracts are always getting in the way. This is true, especially if your approach to contracting is still largely manual and linear. 

Understanding the evolution of contracting process that other businesses are already using can help you lock in a self-service workflow that fits.

Types of Contracts Within a Contract Ecosystem

Taking a holistic view of the marketplace and the pros and cons will help you make the right decision of how to present your agreement to customers and potential clients. Pen and paper contracts as well as traditional eSignature contracts are not ideal for a self-service workflow and break at scale. But embedded signing and clickwrap agreements are perfect for moving fast and staying secure.

Related: A Case for Self-Service in Enterprise

Non-Ideal: Pen and paper contracts

Contracts are mostly done manually using pen and paper. Someone from Legal (whether in house or outside counsel) would draft terms and send them to the other party's Legal team/representative. The receiving party would review the terms, redline it extensively, and return the agreement. This back and forth would continue ad nauseam until both parties are satisfied with the terms.

This process is untenable for self-service flows. Not only does it not move fast enough, it is incapable of managing significant volume of signers. 

Non-ideal: PDFs/ Traditional eSignatures

One step away from pen and paper contracts are PDF agreements or traditional eSignatures. Other than the medium through which contract is delivered, the process of a PDF contract is identical to that of pen and paper. That is, it moves in a linear process -- create, deliver, negotiate, store -- most of which is manual and still time consuming.

However, traditional eSignatures don't move fast enough to be a part of your self-service workflow. There is too much opportunity for over-negotiating, as this method of contract presentation signals to the signer that negotiation is welcome.

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Ideal: Embedded signing

Embedded signing, also known as API signing, allows users to accept an agreement embedded your a website or application. While a signature of some sort might be required in embedded signing, it is still an ideal choice when it comes to presenting standardized contracts to a wide range of signers. 

An embedded contract can speed up the signing process by eliminating the need to upload, send, and sign individual contracts via email.

Embedded signatures work great for a one-to-many use case. For example, it's ideal for onboarding new vendors and contractors to your app or product. 

Related: Three Contract Acceptance Methods Defined and Compared

Ideal: Clickwrap

Like embedded signing, clickwrap provides faster acceptance, reduced redlining, and better user experience. Clickwrap agreements are also API driven and best used when the goal is to provide a fast, efficient signing experience for your customers or users. Clickwrap agreements are ideal for agreements such as website terms, privacy policies, or EULAs, but are less likely to be used in place of traditional eSignature.

Unlike embedded signing, clickwrap is a one-click experience that reduces friction in critical processes such as signup flows and eCommerce checkouts. Also, self-service flows built directly into your product are ideal for clickwrap. Some contracts that would do well behind a clickwrap are Terms of Use, Change orders, and statements of work (SOWs).

Related: Becoming Self-Service: Making Pricing and Contracts Your Competitive Advantage

Contracts that help customers move fast and serve themselves - like embedded signing and clickwrap - are ideal for self-service. What does your contract ecosystem look like, and how can you implement more modern contracting for improved efficiency?

To learn more about what enterprise tech needs to know about becoming self-service, download our eBook.

Becoming Self-Service - Download PactSafe eBook

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