The Human Touch: Striking the Perfect Balance between Automation and Personalization in Contract Management

The Human Touch: Striking the Perfect Balance between Automation and Personalization in Contract Management

Written By
Joy Cunanan
Updated on
February 22, 2024
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minutes

In a world where everything is processed at the speed of light and everything is increasingly becoming tech-driven, the right balance between automation and personalisation is key to achieving optimal efficiency and fostering meaningful business relationships. Contract management softwares are built precisely to automate most of the tedious manual processes involved in contracting, but there are still aspects of the contract lifecycle that could benefit from customisation. In this article, we will delve into the importance of maintaining a human touch in contract management processes, while also leveraging the benefits of automation to streamline operations.

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The Rise of Automation in Contract Management

In recent years, automation has become a game-changer in contract management. From drafting and approval workflows to compliance tracking and notifications, automated processes have significantly enhanced efficiency and reduced manual errors. However, as we embrace these technological advancements, it's crucial to recognise the potential drawbacks of excessive automation.

The Pitfalls of Over-Automation

Loss of Personal Connection

As organisations increasingly rely on automated communication channels for contract-related interactions, there is a risk of losing the personal connection that plays a vital role in business relationships. A robotic and standardised approach to communication may inadvertently distance the parties involved. Contracts, at their core, are more than just legal agreements; they are the result of collaborative efforts and negotiations. Over-automation might strip away the human nuances that build rapport and trust between stakeholders.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach

One of the pitfalls of an over-automated system is the tendency to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to contract management. While automation excels in standardising processes for efficiency, it may inadvertently overlook the unique requirements and circumstances inherent in various agreements. Contracts, especially in diverse industries, often demand flexibility and customisation to address specific nuances.

Limited Context Understanding

Automated systems, despite their sophistication, may struggle to fully comprehend the intricacies of context that human intuition effortlessly grasps. Complex scenarios, ambiguous language, or unexpected deviations from standard processes may pose challenges for fully automated systems. This lack of contextual understanding can lead to errors, oversights, and, in some cases, unintended consequences. Human oversight is crucial, especially in critical decision-making processes. While automation can handle routine tasks and standard procedures, human judgment remains unparalleled in interpreting the subtleties and complexities inherent in certain contractual situations. 

Ethical Considerations in Automation

The integration of automation in contract management processes brings forth a myriad of ethical considerations that organisations must address. As we strive for efficiency and innovation, it becomes imperative to ensure that automated systems uphold ethical standards and respect fundamental values. Here are key aspects to consider.

Bias and Fairness

Automated systems, particularly those employing artificial intelligence, can inadvertently perpetuate biases present in training data. This bias may manifest in discriminatory outcomes, impacting decision-making in contract management. For example, an algorithm might favour certain contract terms or negotiations based on historical data that reflects systemic biases.

Organisations must actively monitor and address bias within automated systems, employing measures such as diverse and representative training data, ongoing audits, and bias detection algorithms to promote fairness and inclusivity.

Transparency and Accountability

The opacity of automated decision-making processes can raise concerns about accountability. Stakeholders may question how decisions are reached, particularly when algorithms are involved. Ethical contract management necessitates transparency in the functioning of automated systems. Organisations should be able to explain the decision-making logic, providing stakeholders with insights into how automated processes impact contractual outcomes.

Adopting transparency measures, such as explainable AI models and clear documentation of decision-making criteria, promotes accountability and builds stakeholder trust.

Data Privacy and Security

Contract management systems rely heavily on data, often including sensitive and confidential information. Ethical considerations require organisations to prioritise data privacy and security. Automated processes must adhere to robust data protection measures to prevent unauthorised access, breaches, or misuse of sensitive information.

Implementing encryption, secure access controls, and regular security audits are essential steps in ensuring the ethical handling of data within automated contract management systems.

Informed Consent and User Empowerment

Stakeholders interacting with automated contract management systems should have a clear understanding of how their data will be used and how automated processes may impact their contractual relationships. Informed consent ensures that parties are aware of the implications of automation and willingly participate in the process.

Organisations should prioritise user empowerment by providing stakeholders with control over their data, allowing them to opt in or opt out of automated features, and ensuring that automated decisions align with their preferences.

Human Oversight and Intervention

While automation streamlines processes, ethical contract management requires a balance with human oversight. Critical decisions and complex scenarios should involve human judgment to navigate the nuances that automated systems may overlook. Human intervention becomes crucial in situations where empathy, ethical reasoning, or a contextual understanding is necessary.

Establishing clear protocols for human intervention ensures that ethical considerations remain at the forefront, preventing potential harm or unintended consequences resulting from fully automated decision-making.

Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Frameworks

Ethical automation aligns with compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks governing contract management. Organisations must stay abreast of evolving laws and regulations related to data protection, privacy, and algorithmic decision-making. Adherence to these frameworks not only ensures ethical practices but also protects organisations from legal repercussions.

Regular reviews and updates to automated systems to align with changing regulations contribute to ethical conduct in contract management.

Striking the Balance: Best Practices for Human-Centric Contract Management

In the quest for an optimal balance between automation and personalisation in contract management, adopting best practices that prioritise the human element is crucial. Here are key strategies to ensure a human-centric approach.

Strategies to Personalise Contracting

Identification of Critical Touchpoints

Begin by identifying the critical touchpoints within the contract management process where personalisation can have the most significant impact. These touchpoints often include initial negotiations, major amendments, and contract renewals. Recognising these pivotal moments allows organisations to allocate resources more effectively, ensuring that personalised attention is devoted to the stages where it matters most. Businesses can then strategically deploy their human resources, facilitating a more tailored and responsive approach during key interactions.

Customisation within Automated Workflows

Modern contract management software offers a plethora of features that enable customisation within automated workflows. Embrace these capabilities to infuse a human touch into standardised processes. Customise templates, automate routine tasks, and reserve space for personalised elements within the workflow. For example, automated email notifications can include personalised greetings and acknowledgement of specific milestones achieved in the contract lifecycle. This blend of automation and customisation ensures efficiency while maintaining a personal touch throughout the contractual journey.

Human Oversight for Critical Decisions

Recognise the limitations of automation, especially in scenarios that demand nuanced decision-making. Integrate human oversight checkpoints in your contract management processes, particularly for critical decisions and complex negotiations. Human judgment excels in interpreting the subtleties, cultural nuances, and context that automated systems might struggle to grasp. This approach not only mitigates the risk of errors but also ensures that contractual agreements align with the unique needs and goals of the involved parties. Human intervention guarantees a more thoughtful and contextually aware approach to decision-making.

Investment in Relationship Building

Contract management is not solely about the terms on paper; it's about fostering relationships. Allocate resources and time to invest in relationship-building activities. This includes regular communication, relationship reviews, and periodic check-ins with stakeholders. A personalised and relationship-centric approach strengthens connections, builds trust, and fosters a collaborative environment. Implementing this practice ensures that contracts are not just legal documents but living agreements that reflect the ongoing partnership between parties.

Continuous Feedback Loops

Establish continuous feedback loops with stakeholders involved in the contract management process. Actively seek input on the effectiveness of automated processes, the quality of communication, and overall satisfaction with the contract management experience. This feedback helps in refining strategies, making necessary adjustments, and ensuring that the balance between automation and personalisation remains optimal. By incorporating feedback, organisations demonstrate their commitment to improvement and responsiveness to the evolving needs of stakeholders.

Emphasis on Clear Communication

In automated processes, there's a risk of communication becoming overly formal or detached. Emphasise clear and transparent communication throughout the contract lifecycle. Clearly articulate expectations, responsibilities, and any changes to the contract. This ensures that all parties involved have a comprehensive understanding, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings. Clear communication not only aids in comprehension but also adds a human touch by demonstrating transparency and openness in the contracting relationship.

Training and Education for Stakeholders

Recognise that successful human-centric contract management requires engagement and understanding from all stakeholders. Invest in training programs to familiarise employees, clients, and partners with the contract management software and processes. Educating stakeholders on the benefits of automation and the importance of personalisation fosters a collaborative environment.

When everyone is on the same page, the contract management process becomes more cohesive, efficient, and responsive to the unique needs of each party involved.

Celebration of Milestones and Achievements

Inject positivity and recognition into the contract management journey by celebrating milestones and achievements. Whether it's the successful completion of a complex negotiation, the signing of a significant contract, or the renewal of a long-standing partnership, take the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate these moments. Recognition adds a human touch to the process, making stakeholders feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, fostering a positive atmosphere in the business relationship.

Flexibility in Automated Workflows

While automation brings efficiency, ensure that automated workflows allow for flexibility when needed. Circumstances may arise that require deviations from standard processes. A human-centric approach means incorporating the ability to adapt within automated workflows. This adaptability ensures that the contract management system remains responsive to the evolving needs of the business and its stakeholders. Flexibility within automation demonstrates a commitment to meeting the unique challenges and opportunities presented in each contractual relationship.

Balance Ethics, Automation, and Personalisation in Contract Management with Lexagle. 

Ethical considerations loom large in the realm of automation. The potential for bias, transparency, data privacy, informed consent, human oversight, and compliance with legal frameworks are critical aspects that demand our attention. As organisations strive to strike the perfect balance, the commitment to ethical conduct not only safeguards against unintended consequences but also fosters trust among stakeholders.

Strategic personalisation within automated workflows ensures that contracts are not mere legal documents but living agreements that reflect the unique needs and aspirations of each party involved. By identifying critical touchpoints, customising workflows, and allowing for flexibility, organisations can infuse the human touch into every stage of the contract lifecycle.

Take the next step towards efficiency, transparency, and ethical excellence with Lexagle, Asia’s leading contract management platform. With our reliable contract management software, your agreements become more than just documents; they become the foundation of trust, collaboration, and sustained success. Book a demo with us today to learn more about our services. 

The Human Touch: Striking the Perfect Balance between Automation and Personalization in Contract Management
Author
Joy Cunanan
Joy is the Digital Transformation Manager at Lexagle. As a marketing professional in the Tech and B2B industry for over seven years, she is always on the lookout for the next best solution in the ever-changing online world. With a passion for helping businesses thrive and optimize operations, she shares her expertise in the power of contract lifecycle management and its capacity of easing the contracting process for busy organizations worldwide.

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