If your company creates high volumes of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), can you make them consistent, structured and standardized?
This deep dive looks at who NDAs affect, why businesses might choose to standardize them, how they do it and what the benefits are. 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), two or more parties agree on confidential material that they’d like to share with each other and to prevent from being shared with anyone else. This means that companies can keep sensitive or proprietary information – like commercial terms, product information or trade secrets – confidential and private.
NDAs are some of the most common contracts in the business world, with applications everywhere from sales to employment or publishing. They can be unilateral, meaning only one party is bound by duties of non-disclosure, or mutual, meaning both parties are.
Who do NDAs affect?
NDAs can affect many different teams in a business, and in different ways.
Lots of different teams might need to send out NDAs, including sales, legal, 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. Someone specific in the leadership team might need to approve a particularly sensitive NDA.
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.
Why standardize NDAs?
If your company’s NDAs aren’t standardized, then contract creators will likely base the terms they send out on whatever they can find in an old template. This means they might send wrong or out of date contracts, which can lead to two serious problems. Firstly, legal risk created by rogue language; and secondly, friction between everyone involved as those errors or issues are spotted and corrected. As frustration grows on all sides, the process may be delayed or come to a standstill.
How to standardize NDAs
Why do you need an NDA? Creating a non-disclosure obligation should be a means to an end, empowering both parties to talk freely together about their proposed commercial relationship. Achieving this quickly, in a way that both parties are happy with, should be at the forefront of any efforts to standardize the process.
Keep it simple
NDAs can be pretty short. Juro’s standard NDA 👇 can be read in a couple of minutes and understood by any party – legally trained or not. Dense legal jargon and endlessly complex clauses will only get in the way of your goal.
Design it and brand it
Legal design isn’t just a buzzword: it’s an approach that can really make your documents more user-friendly and more likely to be signed. Giving your NDA some personality by including logos (even an animation, if your contract editor can handle GIFs) is a great way to improve user experience and make it less scary.
Nail down your positions
Looking at your previous contracts, which clauses are most commonly negotiated or queried? If everyone pushes back over the agreement length, and you’re always happy to concede, why not make it shorter as standard and save yourself the work.
If you do allow changes to be made to standardized terms, codify them in a playbook so that contract creators can be empowered within set parameters. You can use conditional logic in your template editor to do this, too.
If you manage NDAs manually using a combination of Word, DocuSign, email and so on, there’s an increased risk of error – and for your standardization to fall apart
Automate your NDAs
If you manage NDAs manually using a combination of Word, DocuSign, email and so on, there’s an increased risk of error – and for your standardization to fall apart. By automating your NDAs with a no-code editor and a template owned by legal, you remove this risk and make sure that the NDAs your teams generate are always on point.
Find out more about standardizing NDAs in our free eBook, 'Contract automation: start small, win big'.
Useful features for standardizing NDAs
If you’re looking to standardize your NDAs with a contract collaboration platform, then these features will help you to achieve a frictionless workflow:
Template-based self-serve. This will empower teams to create contracts from templates that have been approved by legal.
Q&A flow. This means that users can populate contracts simply by answering natural-language questions.
Conditional logic. This enables template owners to build fallback negotiation positions into the template itself, so that even deviations are standardized and legal-approved.
Mass actions. This time-saving feature allows authorized signatories to sign batches of similar contracts in groups, rather than having to do so one at a time – a great feature for high-volume contracts like NDAs.
What about when standardizing your NDA isn’t possible?
Even with a frictionless self-serve workflow, occasionally there’ll be an NDA that requires special attention. Perhaps it precedes a huge transaction, or relates to a VIP. In these cases you might need to negotiate the terms offline, so make sure that your contract collaboration platform allows you to export to Word.
Is standardizing 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 your 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.