Success in contract negotiations has much to do with control over the proceedings. Says Harvard Business School Professor Deepak Malthora:
“Substance is the terms that make up the final agreement.
Process is how you will get from where you are today to that agreement.
My advice to deal makers: Negotiate process before substance.”
There is great wisdom in this. Knowing the process step-by-step beforehand can speed up things radically. Even better if one gets to know who the real decision makers are, says Malthora. True, it makes sense to ensure that one’s big concessions are made only with those who have the power to offer something in return.
“Ask the other party: How much time does your company need to close the deal? Who must be on board? What factors might slow down or speed up the process? Are there key milestones or dates we should be aware of?”
But how to KEEP on top?
But let’s say you have now mapped out the procedures and timelines and made the other important preparations, like finding what information you can get of your counterpart.
How to keep the negotiation process under control once it starts running? How to keep it running at the top speed? Alerting the participants to the important steps when it comes, one after the other? Ensuring they really take them? All this for a couple of teams that, today, can have many members?
It tends to be a lot of work.
The good news is, brand new technology can help in the form of online negotiation services that automate the bulk of the practicalities.
Key requirements: simultaneous collaboration and robust workflows
What should one look for in such a solution to ensure it really can help with practicalities? The key capabilities are:
- Pre-definable workflows. These memorize and run the sequence of tasks you plan. Choose a solution that has an intuitive interface and customizable workflow templates for ease of use.
- Automated reminders for each task. Once the workflow is in, this functionality keeps it running with reminders while you can monitor that it all goes smoothly.
- Real-time commenting and redlining. We are busy people. Your solution should support any number of people working on the contract simultaneously right when they have time.
- Controlled comment visibility. You want to make some comments to the other party, but keep others to just your own team? Controlled comment visibility makes this possible.
- Multi-party approvals. Some redlines may be so important that you want to ensure that certain individuals take notice. Individually assignable approvals for redlines enable this.
- E-signing. When the contract gets completed, ensure quick and effortless signing right away.
Where to find such a solution? For Salesforce users, there is a new solution (or ‘app’) called Documill Leap. It focuses on negotiation management and document collaboration in general.
Technology has come a long way in integrating seamlessly with human processes, also legal ones.
“Contract processing technologies have so far been strictly about housekeeping for the electronic paper after sign-off. Now, finally, is the time to put things right for contract negotiators using cutting-edge collaboration technology.” – Terho Laakso, Documill Ltd