It's the fourth year that we've released our State of Contract Management Report, and it has been an exciting one for this fast-moving, ever-evolving area of enterprise technology.
So let's take a look at some of the big contract management trends that we've watched develop into maturity since we began releasing the Report in 2015 – and what they mean for your own contract processes.
2015 and 2016 don't seem like they're so far in the rearview, but in terms of the adoption of cloud-based solutions, the tech world is an eon ahead of where it was just three short years ago. In the Reports from 2015 and 2016, more than 70 percent of respondents were telling us outright that their contract processes were in no way automated.
This year, a full 44 percent of those businesses polled reported using a contract management solution. And while that doesn't indicate that they're using every tool for automation within a given solution, it does demonstrate that many businesses have at the very least implemented the infrastructure – beginning the streamlining process and setting the groundwork for automation.
For businesses, a slow contract cycle is more than just an inconvenience. It can damage partnerships, frustrate customers and invariably leads to wasted resources and lost money. Contract management solutions have emerged not just as a good option, but a necessary solution to speed up and manage the intricate, complex process of contracting at scale. The good news is that in a few short years, contract cycles have been speeding up.
If we look back to the 2016 Report, 49 percent of respondents reported that their sales contract cycles were taking longer than four weeks. In this year’s report, we're seeing that with 45 percent of respondents placing their contracting process at between two and three weeks, and 14 percent placing it at taking less than two weeks, nearly 60 percent are reporting their sales cycle are taking less than three weeks.
It stands to reason that the increased implementation of the right contract management solutions is enabling this increased level of efficiency. And businesses only stand to get better and faster as they continue adopting and leveraging these solutions.
One of the biggest revelations of this year's Report is that 82 percent of businesses this year reported looking for AI solutions to help automate their contract processes. So while not all businesses are set up to automate quite yet, a huge majority of businesses are seeing cloud-based technological solutions as the key to any contracting hurdles they may be facing.
And this trend is doubtlessly poised to continue as businesses continue to discover the value of – and ROI in – correctly implemented contract management solutions. That means solutions that don't just act as virtual filing cabinets, but improve the experience and speed up the cycle through automated workflows, redlining and document comparison tools, digital signature technology and other next-gen offerings.
Businesses are understanding that contract lifecycle management is the future, they just need guidance getting there.
You've just read about a few of the major trends that have been characterizing and driving our fast-moving portion of the tech landscape. And you probably have questions.
Maybe you're wondering how to get the most ROI out of a contract management solution you've already implemented. Maybe you're just dipping your toe in the world of contract automation and need some clarification on what this all means for you. Or maybe you've been having trouble making use of the automated tools you've got in place and want to figure out the next step to take.
Whatever your current situation, we can give you crucial, actionable insight -- especially if you're able to join us at this year's Salesforce-sponsored trade show extraordinaire, Dreamforce.
This year, our Dreamforce session titled Trends in Contract Management – What You Need to Do to Stay Competitive will take a deep dive into contract lifecycle management – exploring how you can best implement those automated tools everyone is talking about to take your contract processes to the next level.