Skip to Main Content

‘The new normal’ is a phrase that wasn’t in my vocabulary two years ago. Now I’ve heard it so many times I don’t really want to hear it again – but I must admit there’s some sticking power to the phrase.

The pandemic has ushered in a business landscape with new and unique challenges – ones that are trending towards continuing into 2023. For manufacturers, it’s never been harder to manage the product life cycle: global supply chain issues, workplace closures, complex health and safety policies for the plant/shop floor, furloughs and layoffs, add in global trade wars, raw material shortages, rapid innovation from competitors and you have… the “new normal.”

Whatever we want to call these heightened challenges, they require new solutions.

Global Business Demands a Faster Contracting Process

An area ripe for improvement within the manufacturing industry is in the contract process. There’s simple math to this: the faster contracts get completed, the faster deals are closed. The longer the contracting process goes on, the more opportunity there is to leave the funnel.

Speeding up the contracting process while retaining the same level of due diligence, accuracy, and compliance while tethered to manual functions is arguably impossible, though. Cutting those tethers changes the game entirely – especially when “efficiency” is the goal, rather than speed.

At the end of the day, speed is merely a biproduct of efficiency, of an optimized process, of ideal technology. The benefits of a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution are modernizing your contracting business processes, by:

  • Defining workflows and processes from draft to signed contract
  • Identifying and removing process inefficiencies
  • Maintaining compliance standards
  • Keeping data secure yet easily accessible by the appropriate people

A properly connected and fully adopted CLM software will reduce the time it takes to draft, review, negotiate, approve, and sign contracts – and we all know that the first product to market has an advantage.

Implementing a CLM system requires designating a single source of truth, automating the increasingly complex art of compliance, and defining processes down to every last detail – the biproduct of all of this is exactly what manufacturers need: speed.

Designate Your Secure Single Source of Truth (SSOT)

We see this issue every day, at every business around the world. One person is working within a project management system, another is emailing updates, and everyone else is chatting via company messaging.

Who has the final version of that? Was this approved? Has so-and-so seen this? It’s absolute chaos.

It’s the same way with contracts, despite the high level of importance, security, and compliance needed. Files are spread everywhere, some on premise servers, others in cloud repositories, 10 backed up in John’s email inbox, and no fewer than a dozen versions saved on desktops. No one knows which one is the final version, who changed what, or why.

Done like this, contract “management” is a black hole of ifs, maybes, and “Hey, just seeing where this contract is at?” pings all day long. And all of it takes up twice the amount of time as it should, making it one of the first issues to address when looking to optimize the contract process for manufacturing businesses.

It’s critical to centralize in-progress and completed contracts in one repository. Users should know exactly where they need to go to get the most current version of a contract, and they should always be able to see where a contract is in the cycle with a few quick clicks.

One of the major benefits of contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology, especially comprehensive solutions like DocuSign, is the centralized SSOT contract hub that increases collaboration, fewer version conflicts, and a generally cleaner end-to-end process.

A good advisory and implementation partner will take all the aforementioned chaos and turn it to calm using the right cloud-based technology and empowering agile implementation methodology.

Keith McCarraher, Special Projects Manager in the IT Management Office at Genuine Parts Company, has generously praised our Spaulding Ridge team for our ability to do just that, saying, “The Spaulding Ridge team is one of the most efficient requirements-gathering teams I’ve ever worked with. We’ve implemented CLM for several business units and I was always impressed by their ability to quickly make calm out of chaos. All the while, speaking to the new CLM team members in a clear and confident manner that drove the project forward and invoked confidence. Their professionalism and attention to detail is second to none.”

Keith McCarraher from the Genuine Parts Company remarks on the benefits of contract lifecycle management.

Your Unique Workflows Efficiently Defined

Where are your contracts getting hung up?

Flexibility to define your unique workflows that run parallel to your processes and requirements is necessary to eliminate any hang-ups. Pending contracts in DocuSign CLM workflows automatically trigger each next action and can send contracts across the company, to clients, and to stakeholders with different actions in mind.

Stakeholders have full visibility into the contracts, which is one out of many benefits of contract lifecycle management (CLM), as well as the efficacy metrics of the previous supplier contracts to make more informed decisions about who to partner with.

“Through multiple CLM implementations, I watched our brightest employees throw every conceivable scenario at the Spaulding Ridge team. Without fail, we were given quick and concise solutions that satisfied our most demanding project sponsors,” says Keith McCarraher of his time with Spaulding Ridge’s implementation team. “Their experience in the field came to light as they provided insight and options to our business leaders. It became very clear that the Spaulding Ridge team understood our business processes and how CLM could be implemented to satisfy our needs.”

Security & Compliance

The list of rules and regulations that manufacturers must comply with continues to grow and get more complex – with that burden falling squarely on Quality departments. Quality teams are continuously creating, updating, and maintaining the processes and artifacts they need for the next audit – and CLM can help here as well.

Whether it’s document control capabilities for ISO 9001 or eSignatures for FDA 21 CFR part 11 compliance, it’s integral that the Quality teams have the technology they need to pass audits and maintain the organization’s targeted compliance standards. The benefits of contract lifecycle management (CLM) can support critical business outcomes, easing heavy burdens and ensuring consistent compliance.

In that same vein, security is an important aspect of every business. If you’re like me, you’ve sat through hours of security training throughout your career, so I don’t need to tell you that there are lots of bad actors out there looking to access confidential corporate information. Corporate espionage is such a ‘Double-O-Seven’ way to describe it, but the threat is real.

DocuSign’s CLM software features best-in-cloud protection and security for your data from anyone on the internet with harmful intentions.

Spaulding Ridge x DocuSign = Your Manufacturing Contract Lifecycle Management Solution

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of Manufacturing organizations in my career and have participated in solving a diverse range of business problems.

“Some vendors are just that: “vendors”. But Spaulding Ridge has become a strategic partner for GPC. As we implemented CLM across the globe, Spaulding Ridge seamlessly engaged our business units, worked with DocuSign on our behalf and kept our projects on budget & on time,” says Keith McCarraher, Special Projects Manager in IT Management Office at the Genuine Parts Company. “As the PM for a global CLM rollout, I appreciate how the Spaulding Ridge team has consistently made me look good!”

I’d love to have a conversation about how CLM can help solve some of those problems – don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

A headshot of Phillip Oberkofler.
Phillip Oberkofler
Manager, DocuSign, Spaulding Ridge
About the Author

Phillip Oberkofler is a Manager in the Spaulding Ridge DocuSign Practice. He has 8+ years of experience working in cloud technology.