The LifeCycle of a Contract in the Digital Age

The workflow of a processing contract today is starkly different than how what it was 10 years ago due to the recent implementation of digital devices. Let’s take a look at a contract’s lifecycle now and how it has evolved from what it was 10 years ago.

Prepare the contract.

Both 10 years ago and today, you have to first figure out the purpose and legality of the contract and then outline every detail within the legislature. In this stage, whomever is creating the contract should include two legally valid elements as is drawn out in a Contracts 101 article by Nolo: all the parties must be in agreement and something of value must be exchanged for something else of value.

Send the contract out for signing.

Past:  Back in the day, this could be done through either fax, via snail mail, or even an in-person hand delivery. To retrieve a wet signature (physically written signature) requires more effort on the contract-creator’s side; it involves responsibility and time to send a contract out for signature.

Now: Today, many businesses have switched to signing documents electronically using up-and-coming e-signature software such as SignNow by Barracuda Networks. Digital signature solutions such as SignNow permit documents to be sent via app or email invite without having to go through the extra work of mailing, delivery, or faxing that was previously required for physical signatures. E-signatures have an established legal backing from the ESIGN Act which gives them the same validity as wet signatures, so signing contracts with them save extensive amounts of time.

Signed document is sent back to contract-creator.

Past: This step was done the same way they used to send the unsigned document: through fax, snail mail, or in-person delivery.

Now: In this generation, the signer is able to send back electronically signed documents at the click of a button back to the contract-creator.

Document is copied, labeled, and filed away.

Past: In the past, this meant physically copying the contract page for page with the signatures on them. This then meant labeling the date, time, type of contract and filing it away in a cabinet that most likely holds all other important documents.

Now: However, thanks to the modernity of e-signature solutions, we can now track every process of the contract using the audit-trail features that many of these platforms offer. An audit trail is defined by the BusinessDictionary as a “paper or electronic trail that gives a step by step documented history of a transaction.” This makes it easy to see at what step the contract is being processed and also keeps a permanent record of the document online using iCloud storage; iCloud storage is offered through most platform’s integrations with cloud storage applications such as Google Drive and Box. This makes it 10x easier to keep track of, manage, protect, and record document’s throughout the workflow.

The contract lifecycle stages are the same as they were before e-signatures; however, they are different in the time, effort, and action required for each step. We are able to save so much time and money in signing contracts with secure e-signature solutions such as SignNow – eventually, the transition from wet to e-signatures will transform the commercial world and how we handle signed paperwork!

Check out How to E-Signature‘s guide to uploading and signing a document here.