IBM announced new technology that enables small and medium-sized businesses to execute and manage contracts entirely online, eliminating the need to work with paper documents. Their press release reads – Developed by IBM Research, Contracts OnLine is a Web-hosted application that can reduce the time it takes to complete contracts from days to minutes, driving down processing costs and increasing productivity with anytime, anywhere access to contracts.
Traditionally, contract execution required businesses to work with paper documents distributed by fax, e-mail or overnight service. This manual process is time-consuming and prone to human error, which can lead to multiple review cycles and lost revenue when contracts take too long to execute. Additionally, with paper contracts, there is no simple way to track or make changes, check the status, or prevent unauthorized persons from viewing the content. The contract process can be particularly burdensome for small and medium-sized businesses that typically don’t have access to extensive contract support staff.
Contracts OnLine addresses these issues by enabling authorized users to securely upload documents, review, make changes, approve, sign contracts, and track progress in real-time using a Web browser without additional hardware and software installation. The online service automatically sends e-mails to the right people to notify them when contracts are available to review and sign, delivers reminders for required actions and notifies all parties when a contract is about to expire. Users can also communicate, collaborate with other users, delegate tasks for contract approval and signature, as well as search and retrieve contracts anytime, anywhere.
Contracts OnLine keeps track of who did what and when to improve business control and auditing and automatically applies a watermark with signer names and dates when the contract execution is completed. As a result, contracts are now easier to manage and can be executed faster to help businesses capitalize on new opportunities.
Contracts OnLine provides many advanced functions such as multi-party contract processing (for transactions involving one or more Business Partners, Client and IBM), multi-level document routing (between businesses and within a business), multi-level organizational hierarchy (inter- and intra-organizational structures), multi-tenancy (multiple hosting organizations in one instance), multi-level user access control levels, electronic signature, automatic watermarking, document control and management and business report creation. The application also leverages IBM’s leading WebSphere Application Server and DB2 database software.
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