Digital Contracting

Four Ways PDFs Hold You Back

Four Ways PDFs Hold You Back-11

Anti-aging drugs. AI-discovered molecules. The Internet. Technology has done some amazing things in recent years. Yet many still use PDF exclusively for contracts. This is why too many business still find themselves held back by ties to traditional agreements (or their virtual pen-and-paper replacements that feature many identical drawbacks).

As a digital cousin of sorts to legacy contracts, the PDF was an amazing innovation. It’s elevated the way we communicate and get work done. But like any other technology, it’s finite – and now it’s time to move on to a better solution.

Just think about the last PDF document you used. You had to find it, download it, open it, and scroll until your hand cramps up to find the information needed. It’s a fact that PDFs weren’t designed for the web. Large file sizes are slow to load; they’re not optimized for the digital and mobile-friendly access your customers and partners now desire.

So, why should you kill the PDF once and for all to unleash your organization’s true contract automation potential? Let’s explore four primary reasons:

PDFs Make Version Control Difficult

When it comes to collaboration and version control in your contract management, PDFs often do more harm than good. Using email as your primary (or only) contract delivery system makes it hard to find the latest version of any given document, thereby increasing the potential for human error. Just think about it: you publish a new version, you publish proper instructions and policies for applying any changes, you remove all outdated versions of the contract, and you update all relevant people involved.

Online contracts and clickwrap agreements have become a necessity for modern eCommerce success. They track and manage version control across every interaction, and then support your efforts by storing back-end records that detail which version of an agreement someone assents to.

This is a huge contract management advantage. Compared to PDFs that may or may not be haphazardly stored across drives and machines, clickwrap agreements give your business undeniable proof that a user agreed to a specific version of your terms. And that means legal enforceability can be ensured to prevent costly lawsuits and data privacy noncompliance.



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PDFs Mean Poor Customer Experiences

Whether downloading a copy of your favorite restaurant’s menu or a B2B contract worth millions, PDFs often negatively impacts your digital customer experience. Contract management is already a friction-filled process, so why use PDFs when all they do is add everything but value?

It’s never a good idea to interrupt a user's transaction to present a PDF or a clunky experience - at any point, but especially close to the end. Instead of making customers download, review, sign, and upload a PDF before sending it back to your solution provider, consider presenting your agreements within the check-out flow and having users accept your agreements with the click of a button.

As contract automation and online terms more and more popular, your digital customer experience has become a primary business differentiator. And by getting rid of the PDF, you give your organization the ability to improve the buyer experience by adding simplicity, convenience, and speed into the contract management ecosystem.

Just see how effortless, digital experiences like Uber and Airbnb have revolutionized traditional industries if you need any proof of how successful this approach can be.

PDFs Aren't Mobile-Friendly Contract Management and Acceptance Solutions

How businesses – and your customers want to send and receive agreements is changing. And fast. Or, at least they should be if you’re paying any attention. So, if you don’t kill the PDF you can expect contract management inefficiencies, signing delays, and a customer experience that doesn’t cater to your buyers’ modern preferences.

Today, more and more people want to make their purchases online – whether it’s B2C or B2B. And a digital customer’s method of choice? Their mobile device. And if you want to maximize the success of your contracting processes, you can’t afford to ignore this trend. Which is why businesses are adopting a variety of mobile-friendly contract acceptance options out there waiting for you.

SMS contracts, chat-to-sign, and other mobile-friendly options give you the ability to meet your customers (and potentially new audiences) where they’re consuming information – regardless of time or location. Mobile-friendly contract management and acceptance tools enhance your brand and buyer experience by helping you deliver instant transactions personalized to each shopper.

And that’s a far cry from a PDF-fueled process that fails to accelerate deals, shorten the sales cycle, or introduce contract automation into your workflows.

time to sign

It's Difficult to Automate Data Extraction from PDFs

Contracts are filled with all kinds of useful data. But if it’s stuck in a PDF, it can be impossible to find – much less extract and actually use. Contract management should be a living, breathing, connected stream of data that drives action across your organization. Not a weight burdening your business’ shoulders and increasing overhead costs.

Once you kill the PDF, your contracts are capable of more dynamic automation contract automation capabilities give you the ability to collect agreement details that are critical to defining every meaningful enterprise relationship you manage. From specific sentences to keywords to provisions and more, you need to be able to track every piece of data that is crucial to the running of your business. And manually combing through individual PDFs just isn’t practical.

To make contract automation and this massive data delivery initiative possible, you need to consider your contract information from the standpoint of inputs and outputs. Then, you’ll be able to start centralizing and making sense of everything you’re communicating across deals.

And once these online agreements are integrated into your business processes, the outputs of these transactions can be automated and scaled to make your business response that much more efficient and rewarding. The more analytical you can be about contract automation and compiling down data, the more you can benefit. 

Stop Relying Exclusively on PDFs

At the end of the day, PDFs are a huge barrier to attaining the growth and success your business needs. A digitally native contract management solution makes it easier than ever to send out agreements, capture acceptance, and move on to the next opportunity. 

Instead, look to clickwrap agreements that allow you to provide seamless customer experiences while also managing, tracking, and auditing the agreement on the back-end. Learn more in our eBook, 101 Ways to Use Clickwrap.

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