Online contracts: the ultimate guide

Juro knowledge team, 24 May 2021

‘Online contracts’ doesn’t just mean eSigning PDFs. Find out how to address the entire lifecycle of a contract online in this explainer.

The traditional way of handling contracts requires a huge amount of manual work, which is time-consuming and creates friction for the modern business. Using a contract automation platform, you can now create online contracts that are machine-readable, so you can identify, track, and analyse critical information in your legal documents quickly. 

The same platform enables lawyers and business colleagues to quickly create, negotiate, review, edit, approve, eSign, and manage all your company’s contracts in one location using intuitive, in-browser functionalities that integrate with your other key systems. 

This guide shows the importance of creating online contracts that use structured data to make your company’s contract-related information searchable, trackable, measurable, and manageable. Transform your contracts from burdensome bottlenecks into flexible digital assets that help you drive growth for your business.

Upload contracts | Create contracts | Edit contracts | Negotiate contracts | Sign contracts | Manage contracts | Online contracts: the data benefits | Get started

How to upload contracts online

Digital contracting sounds great if you have a blank slate to work from - but often, legal departments need to digitize contracts that already exist as PDF, Word, or Google documents. 

Fully digitizing your existing contracts structures their data to enable powerful search, automation, and data analytics capabilities. It’s no wonder that, according to a recent EY 2021 Law Survey, digitization ranked as the number one priority among CEOs planning changes to their business model, with 61 per cent of CEOs expecting to make significant investments into data and technology. Contract should be no different. Here are three ways upload and digitize your existing contracts:

  • Drag and drop PDFs into Juro. The platform’s AI-powered contract reader will parse and digitize the document. Now you can manage and even sign your PDFs online.
  • Use the ‘Bulk Upload’ feature to upload a large number of contracts at once, tagging the documents with metadata on their way into the platform. You first populate a CSV spreadsheet with key fields, and the platform will automatically tag this spreadsheet data to the uploaded files. 
  • Select a defined Google Drive folder, and Juro will pull in and digitize your contracts from this folder automatically. It will even retain your folder structure as smart fields, so you can search and organize contracts and their data seamlessly.

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How to create online contracts

Word has been the default environment to create contracts for decades - and there are still upsides to creating contracts in Word. But for modern businesses with contract volumes that are high and increasing, the friction and bottlenecks caused by using a word processor to manage digital, revenue-facing documents can be severe.

Using Juro’s in-browser editor to draft online contracts offers significant benefits. Every online contract and contract template you create, and every contract created from the templates, is born digitally. Its data is structured, enabling full search, automation, and data analytical capabilities from minute one. So how do you do it?

  • First. in-house lawyers create automated templates for routine contracts such as NDAs, MSAs, and offer letters, using conditional logic to incorporate fallback positions for any negotiable clauses. 
  • Second, colleagues from sales, procurement, HR, and other business units use those templates to create, negotiate, and sign simple contracts independently. 
  • When they need to negotiate a clause, the platform helps them easily identify an appropriate fallback position based on the legal department’s earlier input. 

Self-service contracts help avoid the often extensive delays and hassles that arise with the need to consult the legal team for every agreement and revision. Templates are easy to maintain and update self-serve in the platform - unlike Juro’s competitors - helping to ensure new contracts don’t need modifications and consistently contain the most up-to-date, risk-adjusted language.  

How to edit online contracts

When edits are required, Juro’s in-browser editor makes secure online collaboration the most efficient option. If you need input from a colleague on a contract created in Juro, the easiest way to get it is to at-mention them by typing the @ symbol before their name and selecting their name from the menu that appears or continuing to type out their full name:

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Colleagues can then make revisions in the same document using the same in-browser editor. They can also offer suggestions through clearly organised sidebar comments and can link a comment to a specific contract clause for even greater clarity.

When you’re ready for contract review to get the document approved, don’t waste time downloading files and pinging them around email and Slack. With Juro, you instead build automated approval workflows for fast, easy, and easily trackable approvals. Simply hit a button to send contracts and route the contract as directed, alerting the defined contract approver and making sure you stay ahead of the game, spotting delays before they happen. 

Negotiate online contracts in-browser

Contract negotiation can be a painful part of the lifecycle - but the good news is that you can manage this entirely in-browser too, with a clear process that helps negotiators focus on identifying and handling issues and closing deals quickly. 

In-browser negotiation uses redlining features designed specifically for online contracts, eliminating time-consuming – and potentially costly – version control issues. Negotiators can hide internal comments from outside parties and control which edits and comments counterparties see. Parties mark up a single document, and the software aggregates comments and emails them to counterparties when appropriate. 

Meanwhile, the platform also tracks every revision in an easily accessible and secure digital audit trail. Your legal team can learn from each negotiation and determine how to optimize the language in your templates. If you want to travel back in time and see how the elements of the contract changed throughout, just hit the timeline and click back through different versions.

Online contract signing

Contract signing is the area of the workflow that's been most comprehensively addressed by new technology, thanks to numerous eSignature platforms. But most contract platforms require parties to move to DocuSign, HelloSign, DropBox, or other applications to complete eSignature. For this reason it can be time-consuming to stitch together several different processes manually, just to get to electronic signature.

Instead, Juro offers a native eSignature tool that allows parties to continue working in the same secure browser-based contract platform through contract signing and into post-signature management. 

Simply drop signature blocks into contracts at the appropriate locations, then hit a button to share it with signatories. You’re able to:

  • Establish contract signing order with sequential signing
  • Automate routing and tracking for predictable review, approval, and signature processes. 
  • Automate the mailing of fully signed contracts to all parties

Juro’s mobile-responsive platform enables secure contract signing on any device. The process is intuitive, with just one or two easy clicks. The signature becomes a digital artefact with a timestamp to memorialize the agreement. The platform stores the digital signature in the cloud, where high-level security measures protect it from loss, theft, and improper access. 

Enhanced security standards and access to audit trails make electronic signature a standard process that all companies and lawyers can trust - all in just a couple of clicks:

Find out more information on which jurisdictions have legalized eSignature: Is eSignature Globally Recognized?

Managing online contracts 

Contracts create binding obligations that need to be managed well after signature - which is why Juro’s browser-based contract automation platform offers post-signature features too, including:

  • Renewal reminders: Keep track of date-contingent obligations and never miss another contract renewal. In Juro, you can tag significant dates as smart fields (turning them into structured data) to make dates searchable and digitally trackable. Choose how far in advance you want a reminder sent and select the parties who'll receive it: 
    juro-date-reminders-png
  • The table view in Juro gives teams a broad view of the contracts they manage, including which contracts are scheduled to renew and when:
    juro-contract-renewal-table-png
  • Data analytics: Your legal team can make more informed decisions with analytics on the efficacy of your contract-related workflows and contract language. Use data analytics to:
    • Identify and eliminate language issues in frequently negotiated clauses to improve contract efficiency at the template level
    • Spot and solve process pain points and eliminate bottlenecks in your contract workflows to improve productivity
    • Identify commonly negotiated agreements and create a template for them to spread more self-service benefits throughout your organization
  • Custom dashboards: Individuals can create custom dashboards with their preferred table views and data visualizations for a continual 360-degree view of the end-to-end contract workflow.

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Online contracts: the data benefits

Online contract automation platforms like Juro capture critical data regarding commercial terms, obligations, and liabilities at the point of contract assembly. Other captured data points collected throughout the contract lifecycle include touch times, frequently negotiated terms, approval rates, cycle times, and more.

Using Word of PDFs to manage contracts, conversely, means no structured data - documents are hard to search, negotiation data is lost, and it’s difficult to find out what obligations and dates need to be tracked. This is why businesses end up spending thousands on AI contract review to find out what’s in their own contracts.

When creating online contracts in Juro, all contract data is structured. This means that:

  • Structured data is searchable, trackable, measurable, and readily available for use in automated and analytical processes. Unstructured data is often none of these things, requiring significant amounts of human effort to manually structure.
  • Other software applications can read, understand, and use structured data, too. This enables successful software integrations with key platforms like Salesforce, increasing communications between systems and teams in your organization to break down information silos and help to ensure your contracts always include the most up-to-date and accurate data available.
  • You can query structured contract data any time, over time, and in multiple ways to spot trends, reach decisive observations, and make more effective short-term decisions and long-term plans.

Ready to move your contracts online?

If you’re ready to explore contract automation for your business, Juro offers a secure all-in-one platform with a rich feature set that allows you to close deals without using Word, Excel, DocuSign, or other applications (like many contract review and contract management applications still require). Hit the button below and find out more.

Topics: Contract magic

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