Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are often high-volume, low-negotiation contracts – so can you empower colleagues to self-serve them?
This deep dive explores who NDAs affect, why they might benefit from creating a self-serve NDA workflow, and how to do it. Use the navigation below to find out more, or explore our deep dives on other contracts, like MSAs.
What’s an NDA?
In a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), the parties agree on confidential material they’d like to share with each other but prevent from being shared with third parties. NDAs enable confidentiality and privacy when it comes to sensitive or proprietary information, and they’re some of the most common contracts in the business world. NDAs can be unilateral, meaning only one party is bound by non-disclosure duties, or mutual, meaning both parties are.
Who do NDAs affect?
Non-disclosure agreements affect many teams in a business, and in different ways.
Lots of people in a company might need to send out NDAs, including salespeople and legal counsel, as well as people in HR, finance, operations and procurement. Anyone who needs legal certainty around confidentiality is a potential user.
Legal counsel typically own the NDA template, and usually have the approval rights too (although someone specific in the leadership team might need to approve an NDA if it is particularly sensitive).
Authorized signatories sign the contract on behalf of the business.
The NDA counterparty could be practically any company, organization or individual. At Juro, we see NDAs across a huge variety of companies, from B2B SaaS providers and marketplaces to retail, media and fintech.
What is a non-self-serve NDA process?
Most businesses around the world still manage their contracts with a manual process that relies on multiple systems and tools. These sorts of processes don’t allow for users to self-serve and so can cause friction between teams. The process often looks something like this:
Someone in the company realizes they need an NDA and searches in a shared drive or pesters legal, to find a Word document template or PDF example. Basing their NDA on the example they’ve found, they send it to the counterparty, who makes changes and then sends it back. When the legal team reviews the contract, they realize it’s based on an old template and needs to be revised. There may be several more rounds of iterations before a final document is agreed and signed – perhaps with an eSignature tool or maybe even a wet signature – and then saved to a shared or local drive.
Why use a self-serve workflow?
There are three main problems with a non-self-serve NDA process: multiple tools across different systems make version control difficult and risk being data lost; the legal team’s time is wasted on emailing colleagues NDA templates; and there's friction when commercial teams don’t have control or sight of the process and have to wait for others to act internally before they can pursue a new partnership or deal.
A successful self-serve set-up for non-disclosure agreements means that anyone in the business can generate an NDA for themselves from a template whenever they need one, without having to request the latest version from legal. The terms the NDA contains will always be up-to-date and represent the legal team’s latest thinking.
How to achieve self-serve for NDAs
A successful NDA workflow will depend on the exact structure and nature of the business in question, but with the following things in place, you should be able to self-serve for a smoother process.
Create the perfect template
Look back at previous NDAs to identify terms that were most frequently negotiated and consider whether you could make changes to these now to create a template NDA that’s likely to be accepted with minimal or zero negotiation. Make sure the final template is also well designed and easy to sign – like this one.
Use a Q&A flow
Set up a Q&A flow, using natural-language questions. By answering these questions, colleagues can seamlessly populate the key fields in the NDA, such as names, dates and legal entities.
Look back at previous NDAs to identify terms that were most frequently negotiated. Could you make changes to these now to create a template NDA that’s likely to be accepted with minimal or zero negotiation?
For effective self-serving (and for structured, searchable records), you’ll want users to stay in a single tool, rather revising exported Word documents or sharing drafts over email. Choose a contract collaboration platform that allows you to negotiate in-browser, making sure that all this information is tracked, stored and searchable.
Set up an approval workflow
Depending on the contract’s risk level, it’s likely that the legal team will still need to have sign-off. An approval workflow can help you define approver roles and make sure it’s checked by the right people at the right time.
Provision licences and train colleagues
No matter how intuitive a process, it can be tough to get colleagues to adopt a new workflow. Make sure that you’ve made the simple things easy, such as logging in, and provide plenty of training so that teams can self-serve effectively and with confidence.
Find out more about self-serving NDAs in our free eBook, 'Contract automation: start small, win big'.
Useful features for self-serving NDAs
CRM integration. If NDAs are being used to cover the deals your sales team are working on in Salesforce, then it’s a good idea to live-sync your CRM and contracts data. That way, salespeople can stay in the system they’re comfortable with and your records are always up to date.
Slack integration. NDAs are often a prerequisite for more valuable commercial activity to follow; Slack notifications are a great way for people to stay up to date on their self-serve contracts so they know when to make the next move.
Mobile-responsive eSignature. NDAs are usually high-volume contracts and require a quick signature, so it’s useful if counterparties can eSign securely anywhere, on any device.
If you supercharge your NDA workflow using these techniques and features, you can take the pressure of your busy legal team and get back to high-value work – even as the business scales.
Is back and forth on NDAs 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, get a free Juro account and see if you could benefit from a contract collaboration platform that enables businesses to agree and manage contracts all in one unified workspace.