October 19, 2022
By DocuSignPage Reading Time: 4 minutes
As part of your organization’s legal contracting team, contract details are your domain. During the drafting process you might include every possible clause and rider to cover all the eventualities that might be encountered throughout a business relationship. These lengthy blocks of text can be critical to the success of a contract and anticipating potential risk, but they can also be difficult to wade through to locate specific terms and language. And that’s assuming you’ve found the correct version of the contract in the first place.
Contract search and analysis, powered by AI, reduces the manual tedium—along with the enormous number of hours and expense—required to find and comb through contractual agreements to pull out relevant language on demand.
As a global driver in contracting technology, DocuSign conducted a survey of 1,300 contracting professionals around the world. The results of this survey reveal how legal teams in today’s contracting ecosystem locate agreements, identify terms, and use analysis to enhance business value. The results show: there are compelling benefits to automating contract search and leveraging AI analysis.
Read on for the insightful findings.
1. 68 percent of contract professionals search for completed contracts at least once a week
Imagine having to do the same search tasks week after week, all year long – sound familiar? That’s the case for more than two-thirds of contract professionals. Now what if the volume of your contracts is so extensive that the search for completed contracts is a time-consuming daily task? That’s the impasse confronting 23 percent of respondents.
Why is there so much contract searching going on? Respondents indicate they’re:
- Looking for contracts in anticipation of an upcoming renewal (61%)
- Using completed contracts as a basis for drafting new contracts (55%)
- Identifying deviations from terms and conditions (49%)
- Reviewing contractual obligations (45%)
Along with looking at overall contracts, respondents also note they’re looking for specific information, such as:
- Payment terms and financial obligations (56%)
- Renewal terms (55%)
- Details of service level agreements (48%)
- Legal and regulatory requirements (29%)
Being able to locate completed contracts quickly enhances business performance. It’s a simple equation: when you spend less time finding and sorting through your contracts, you free up time for fulfilling complex obligations and ensuring compliance. AI analytics and search tools offer the power to search efficiently and effectively for contracts and language within them so that your teams can devote more time to strategic pursuits that protect the company and improve the bottom line.
2. Finding specific language in a contract takes more than two hours, on average
According to our survey, the majority of contract professionals spend between one and six hours tracking obligations in a contract over the course of its lifetime. One in four spend more than a full workday in total. Surely there are more productive ways of spending that time.
Typically, retrieving contracts breaks down into two stages:
- Locating a contract (45 minutes)
- Finding the relevant section or language (84 minutes)
In total, that’s more than two hours spent just locating contracts and language, not even analyzing or applying the information. And that’s only for a single contract—if you consider on average companies generate over 500 contracts per month, or over 6,000 per year, the time cost is tremendous.
What’s more, despite these lengthy searches, in some cases, teams can’t find the right contract. 46 percent of the organizations we surveyed are sometimes unable to locate contracts, and less than half reported feeling very confident that the document they found was the most up-to-date version.
As a result, even with all the hours spent looking for contracts and pulling out language, it’s not always clear that teams manage to identify the final—and therefore actionable—version. By offering customizable, robust search options, AI-assisted tools help legal teams avoid this trap.
3. 65 percent of teams aren’t using integrated tools to manage agreements
Our survey shows why many companies spend so much time on contract retrieval: they’re still using siloed systems which slow them down. The average team uses three or more separate tools to perform analysis, and a majority aren’t using specialized technology: 65 percent still use spreadsheets and email to manage contracts.
The result is lost time. From an efficiency and accuracy standpoint, it’s better to have everything you need to manage agreements in one place, with integrated systems so you eliminate the need to switch between platforms or cut and paste information. Much of the time spent locating contracts and searching for specific language can be reduced by managing these processes from one system.
The absence of automated search and analysis capabilities has deleterious effects on the overall contracting process. According to our survey, the majority of problems are related to the inability to efficiently analyze contracts, which can result in missed payments, missed deadlines and missed opportunities. A more efficient system, making use of integrated technology and advanced AI, helps companies prevent misses caused by disparate workflows.
4. Around half of respondents expect AI to reduce human error and minimize risk in contract management.
Many companies and their legal teams are beginning to heed the call of new contract technology. They’re becoming aware of what AI-assisted tools can do to help their contract management lifecycle: 54 percent of survey respondents say they’ve heard of smart contracts, 37 percent of intelligent search and 35 percent of language flagging during negotiation. And around a third of respondents recognize the power of AI-powered process shortcuts like:
- Automatic data extraction
- Clause-level text recommendations
- Predictive post-execution analytics
By harnessing the power of technology, legal teams can be part of their companies’ efforts to drive efficiency. The rewards for automation are substantial. 53 percent of respondents expect AI to support human decision making and reduce error in the contract management process and 48 percent expect AI to minimize risk.
The financial benefits of a digitized contract process
According to a Forrester study, a composite company saw a 356 percent return on investment in contract lifecycle management technology over the course of three years. The study found that, generally, a robust contract analysis process can reduce the costs associated with hiring outside counsel to analyze documents, as well as errors in agreements and the risk of exposure.
DocuSign helps your legal teams search smarter and analyze better
DocuSign is an innovator in AI-powered contract technology. DocuSign CLM leverages AI to uncover insights from existing contracts and the negotiation process. Beyond intelligent contract analysis, we’re continually developing new AI tools to help your team through every step of managing an agreement.
As we continue to innovate, our priority is always ensuring that our customers have the tools they need to get work done as efficiently and smartly as possible.
To learn more about current trends in contract analytics, check out our ebook on smarter search.