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Automating Contracts in Salesforce (The Ultimate Guide)

Sales teams depend on contracts to seal the deal with clients. These contracts, however, need to be written up by admin and legal teams who are probably in a different department. Therefore, it makes sense to automating contracts in Salesforce as a common repository where the sales and admin teams can coordinate their efforts towards managing the contract lifecycle.

Salesforce is where the sales teams go to manage customer relationships and it is an environment that they are used to. By integrating the contracts into the CRM, the sales representative is saved from having to switch between platforms as they handle one of the most crucial parts of the sales cycle.

Contracts in Salesforce is more than just about making it easy for everyone to collaborate on the contract. It is also a means to keep track of these vital documents that contain details of obligations that a company is getting into. The contract is critical and should be easily accessible to concerned parties and yet also well secured from unauthorized persons. This seems like a great option especially if an organization has to manage several contracts.

With Salesforce contracts, efficiency, security, and convenience combine to deliver amazing customer service.

Research by IACCM indicates that smart contract management practices can increase your business annual revenue by 9%. Many businesses today are unlocking the power of contracts in Salesforce to harness more revenue in the quickest time possible. This is in comparison to the manual alternative in which, too much time goes into writing up contracts as well as approving the terms of the agreement which drags the run-up to payday for the business.

Using Salesforce contracts, sales personnel have greater autonomy to close deals quickly without affecting the legal department’s control over contracts. The business itself realizes faster profits with less expense on contracts. These benefits are just a tip of the iceberg that come with standardizing and automating contracts and making them readily available whenever they are needed.

Why Automate Contracts in Salesforce?

The Salesforce company logo.

First of all, administrative expenses associated with contracts can be decreased by over 25% by automating them according to a research. Some managers may struggle to create a case for contract Salesforce adoption mainly because they fail to highlight the key benefits of automating Salesforce contracts. Presenting clear benefits that highlight customer satisfaction, sales efficiency, and the ultimate benefit of revenue growth, should be enough to sway even the most tight-fisted CEO to approve a shift to automation when dealing with contracts. These benefits include:

Negotiation is made easier: In Salesforce, contract lifecycle management can be made simple by integrating document automation software, the negotiation doesn’t have to take place in a physical setting. Virtual collaboration is enabled and this means even with the parties being miles apart, the negotiations can carry on with drafts being updated in real-time and the process accelerated to a fraction of the time it would have taken using the paper option.

Contracts are error free: The risk of losing money due to mistakes made in drafting a contract is eliminated. Error laden contracts in Salesforce are replaced by standardized content that conforms to the organization’s guidelines and appropriate wording that expresses the exact terms and conditions is employed all the time.

Software integration is made possible: Efficiency will be improved through the integration of different software and platforms. All these will be used together, whether it is Dropbox, Microsoft word, Google Drive, and so on, they will all be integrated. With integration, comes easy approvals of workflows.  

Centralized libraries: The hassle of searching for different clauses in scattered libraries is eliminated and instead everything can be found in one place and accessed by everyone who needs it. This also enables control of what is used and allows for better compliance with delivery and payments since deadlines are easily seen and remembered.

Better tracking: It is enforced with easy auditing and analysis of visible documents. An audit trail can be followed and progress is evident at every stage of the lifecycle.

Improved security: The security of contracts stored in the cloud is heightened by encryption which is obviously better than paper documents kept under lock and key. With the added feature of e-signature, the moment the signature is added to a contract, it is encrypted, and only authorized access can be granted. This means contracts cannot be altered or removed without an alert and a trail that would show who made the alteration. Salesforce contracts automation guarantee that forgeries cannot be made.

Easy revenue audits: A business can keep track of the revenue coming in by referring to what has been agreed in the contract which shows how much a client will pay and when such a payment is due. If there are any amendments to this contract, that will also be reflected in the Salesforce agreements. Therefore, an audit would not involve time-consuming rummaging through paperwork. With the click of a button, such data would be retrieved using an automation process.

Understanding Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)

Automating Contracts in Salesforce - Hands using a stylus to draw on a tablet, with another pair of hands holding a document.

Understanding the different stages of this process will give a better appreciation for automation of contracts in Salesforce. Each stage provides irreplaceable value to the sales process. Whether the contract is a single page or an entire volume filled with clauses and sub-clauses, it is important that the stages of the CLM are all followed. This is because the contract is a vital aspect of the sales process. It helps to spell out the relationship between the business and its client with clear roles each party needs to play. A well-managed contract will minimize risk to both the business and the client. A poorly managed contract on the other hand will cost the organization. Here is an insight into the Salesforce contracts best practices, stages of contract lifecycle management and the role automation plays.

Contract Request

This is the beginning of the cycle where the salesperson makes a successful pitch and the client agrees to get into a contract with the business. At this point terms of a contract are agreed. These may include dates, prices, and how the contract may be executed. What is agreed upon here will be used to author the contract. This information is saved within the software to be added to the Salesforce contract template where appropriate.

Contract Authoring

This stage depends mostly on the templates that have been saved in the document automation software. The templates help to standardize the process of authoring a contract even if it may involve a number of people collaborating to create a single agreement. Clauses and sections of the contract are predetermined by legal brains so that the rest of the authoring process can be handled even by someone without experience in law. Access to these templates however needs to be limited to authorized individuals.

Additional data is added to the template based on the information agreed upon between the client and the sales representative. All this can be done at the same time when the request was made since contracts in Salesforce are accessible anywhere with an internet-enabled device.

Negotiation

Depending on the complexity of the contract, this stage may involve numerous revisions coupled with comparisons of the current draft with other contracts drafted in the past. This is the stage of the CLM that may take up the longest time but the back and forth time is effectively reduced by the ability to collaborate in real-time. The automation program used for this process will make it easier to keep track of the different edits made to the document. All these changes can be recorded for later review of the negotiation process. Salesforce agreements can be formatted to make the document easier to read for all concerned parties.

Contract Approval

After the negotiations, both parties can go through the edits made or the entire contract to make sure that everything that has been negotiated gets represented accurately in the contract. This is a process that would take hours or days if it had to be carried out manually but with the contract approval process Salesforce uses along with the automation software, everything can be fast-tracked. The contract may have to go through more than just one approver and this may take time. Automating this process makes it possible to have every approver notified that the contract is ready for their approval. Alternatively, they can be involved during the negotiation stage where they can receive the notification whenever an edit is made so that they may go through it.

Several people at a table discussing paperwork.

Signature

At this stage, everyone involved is comfortable with the content of the contract. All approvals have been executed and it remains for the commitment to be formalized. Digital signatures are used for this. The organization has specific people who will undertake this responsibility. There may be more than one method to get the signature added to the contract but the most common would be Adobe electronic signature platform.

Obligation

The signing of the contract or agreement is only the beginning of the relationship between the organization and the client. After that, automatic notifications can be set to provide notification whenever milestones have been met. This means that parties are meeting their obligations. Obligations would encompass the terms indicated in the contract, for example, the business may have to provide a service or product within a particular time and of a certain quantity, while the client is expected to make the payment on a particular date. Salesforce software provides comprehensive analytical tools to use for tracking obligations. The entire process is made visible for authorized individuals to track things like dates, revenue, sales metrics, renewal statistics, and so on.

Regulation

Aside from the obligations the parties have to each other, there are regulations that need to be complied with. These are similar to obligations only that they apply to outside parties as well. Regulations could be internal regulations in connection to the contract, but most of the time they are outside regulations. For example, government guidelines concerning the provision of particular services or trading in certain products. These need to be tracked and ensure that they are being complied with. There could also be risks that need to be assessed and managed proactively. Such risks may even arise from engagement with third parties hired to implement part of the contract.

Amendments

At times, there may be need for amendments to the contract. There could be different reasons to amend clauses in the contract. This could be because of increased need by the client or failure to provide the agreed quantity and therefore the price needs to be adjusted. Whatever the reason, the amendment will need to be authorized and both parties need to acknowledge the amendments.

Renewal

If the initial agreement has proved to be beneficial for both parties then on expiry of the contract, they can agree to renew the contract. Instead of going through the entire contract management process again, a new contract that mirrors the original one can be created and minor edits can be made to it. At this point, you can learn how to merge in Salesforce to avoid having to repeat information or having duplicate accounts.

What to Do with Already Existing Contracts?

Two people's hands pointing at documents on a desk.

Many businesses express concerns about what will happen to contracts that are created before they automated with Salesforce. The simple solution for these is to integrate them.

The business could either seek the help of the software company to integrate those contracts into the common repository, or they can do it themselves. Sometimes because of privacy clauses in some of the contracts, it would be best for the organization to handle the integration internally. You can choose to start the migration before the adoption of the new software or even after.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Draft Contracts?

In this initial automation stage, as you make the templates, it is advisable to involve a lawyer to help in designing the contracts. Once the templates have been created. Salesforce and document automation software will take care of the rest using information that you feed it. Some people may also choose to use already existing templates that they edit to suit their situation. This may work if the contracts are short and not more than a few pages.

How to Ensure Compliance

Compliance can be automated by including all the key processes needed to enforce a contract and meet compliance guidelines. The automated system will give notification when different actions need to be taken to ensure compliance. By instituting controls, you can also ensure compliance as well as quicken the process of approval and securing signatures.

How Long Does Implementation Take?

The implementation process may vary according to the organization. One of the key factors that influence the duration is the number of contracts that need to be automated. Some industries may require more detailed contracts than others. For example, a retail business may not need very long contracts and so designing contracts would be faster.

A yellow cartoon thought bubble.

Conclusion

Modern businesses can no longer depend on manual processes and the contract stage is one of those that need to be automated. With the increasing demand for better service, it is only natural that organizations find ways to eliminate errors from the services they offer to clients. Automating Salesforce contracts adds a degree of efficiency that is beneficial both to the client and the business. In just a few minutes a new client can be signed up and impressed by the service they receive so they would consider renewing the contract.

Windward can help automating contracts in Salesforce by integrating into its database. Know more about how to manage your business better with document automation in Salesforce.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

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Genesis Abel

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