If your software-as-a-service (SaaS) agreement process doesn’t scale, your SaaS company won’t scale quickly either. Can contracts scale without friction?
This deep dive explores who is affected by SaaS agreements, why an unscalable process is a problem, how to overcome it, and the advantages if you do. Use the navigation below to find out more, or explore our deep dives on more specific contracts, like NDAs and MSAs.
What’s a SaaS agreement?
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the business model behind B2B tech titans like Salesforce, HubSpot and Zoom, who provide their platforms through a subscription model. They deliver access to their product in-browser, and the subscription model guarantees recurring revenue, unlike on-premise solutions that are paid for once and installed.
A SaaS agreement is the commercial contract that sets out the formal relationship between the SaaS company and its customer. It may take the form of a contract covering a pilot or trial period, or it might be an order form for an auto-renewing annual subscription, supported by an MSA (which could be viewed as a subset of SaaS agreements). What all these types of contract have in common is that they facilitate the exchange of services to the customer for recurring revenue to the business.
Who do SaaS agreements affect?
SaaS agreements have various stakeholders across different business teams, including:
Legal counsel will own the template and guard against risk, making sure that versions are controlled and terms are favourable to the business.
Salespeople, sales managers and account executives are responsible for securing signatures on SaaS agreements – and for doing it as quickly as possible. In negotiations, they’ll be focused on commercial terms like price, billing manner and frequency, and number of users.
Sales operations managers typically own the process through which SaaS agreements flow – particularly if it’s an integrated workflow with a CRM like Salesforce.
Approvers might be various internal stakeholders, depending on the company’s stage and size. For example, if the agreement includes feature commitments, product teams might need approval rights; if there are bespoke billing arrangements that could affect forecasting, finance leadership may need to review and approve.
Authorized signatories will vary from company to company.
Customers, the end-users buying the software, are obviously a key stakeholder in the contract.
Why scale your SaaS agreement workflow?
Businesses have managed for years with hard copy contract processes, shuttling them around town with couriers, or printing, signing and scanning. What does it matter if your contract workflow is old-fashioned and unscalable, as long as contracts are getting signed?
The legal team doesn’t scale proportionally. At a high-growth SaaS company, the legal team will grow, of course: a sole counsel usually adds a paralegal and a generalist at some point, and as time goes on the team might grow to a dozen. But if the business is successful, its total commercial headcount will rapidly grow by hundreds and the ratio of lawyers to salespeople will change dramatically. This means SaaS agreements need to be watertight enough to be used at scale with minimal supervision; the two teams can only bridge the gap with a scalable process that involves self-serve.
SaaS agreements are key to growth. Unless a customer signs, recurring revenue isn’t recognized, and the kind of aggressive, double-digit growth that venture-backed SaaS companies in particular demand will be impossible. Every part of your sales process will need to be optimized to make that growth a reality. A process full of friction that means you have to jump between systems and hunt for templates just isn’t going to cut it when you go from one contract a month, to five, then ten, then fifty, then hundreds.
Things change. SaaS agreements are periodically reviewed and updated to reflect any number of changes. These might include changes to data use terms, uptime commitments, or legal entities following acquisitions. The company’s commercial red lines are likely to change, too, as time goes on. But if your process involves hunting around shared drives trying to find the latest version of a document, then the risk of agreeing contracts with the wrong terms is huge – and this could have serious consequences. If things change, you need to be able to reflect those changes at scale.
If any of these problems presents itself at a company that’s growing quickly, the pain it causes will quickly compound and you’ll find legal process blocking growth - a serious problem.
SaaS agreements need to be watertight enough to be used at scale with minimal supervision
How to scale your SaaS agreement workflow
Follow these steps to create a collaborative contract process that allows SaaS agreements to scale with the business.
Design the perfect contract
The template from which you’ll create all your self-serve SaaS agreements needs to be perfect, so take the time to get it right. Make it simple and readable; keep key terms front and centre; and follow legal design principles to optimize user experience. Check out our guide on how to simplify a SaaS agreement for more on this.
Codify your playbook
Make sure that you’ve agreed the points that you’re willing to concede. Can customers signing for higher-value accounts get preferential treatment when it comes to data use? Is auto-renewal non-negotiable for smaller customers? Once all this is decided, codify it in a playbook so that contract creators in commercial teams are empowered to negotiate.
Build your template
Automate your SaaS agreement with a no-code template editor. Juro’s editor builds your contracts on data models, making them collaborative and searchable from the get-go – check it out here. You might also enjoy this deep dive into how to automate a SaaS agreement.
If your colleagues can self-serve contracts from a template then the time that legal spend on low-value contract admin can be reduced to zero
Make it self-serve
Using a natural language Q&A flow to populate the key terms in the contract is a great way to get your sales team up and running with contract creation. If your colleagues can self-serve contracts from a template then the time that legal spend on low-value contract admin can be reduced to zero.
Create an approval workflow
While salespeople are empowered to self-serve, you’ll probably still want the legal team to retain approval rights to check that negotiation on either side hasn’t led to a position you can’t accept. If your contract collaboration has internal and external collaboration in-browser, like Juro, it should be easy to see a full audit trail of what’s happened and why, before you approve a contract.
Get started ...
Now it’s time to get the process going and get your life back! We find that it works well to begin with a pilot phase, just to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Check out this eBook that takes a deep dive into automating the most common contracts in your business: ‘Contract automation: start small, win big’.
… but review it regularly
Use the dashboards and analytics in your contract collaboration platform to see how the workflow is performing. Are there bottlenecks? Are certain clauses always queried? Are certain people slowing things down or holding things up? To make sure your process stays scalable, you’ll need to review it regularly and optimize.
If you’d like to know more about scaling sales contract workflows, check out these case studies with Wolt, Appear Here and Unbabel, who all made huge time savings by building a scalable contract workflow with Juro.
Is the back and forth between legal and sales teams when it comes to SaaS agreements a pain point for your business? Is your SaaS company or marketplace growing so fast that the contract process is out of control, with friction pre-signature and a lack of visibility post-signature?
If so, try Juro and see if you could benefit from a contract collaboration platform that enables businesses to agree and manage contracts all in one unified workspace.