Workflow of the Week: Automating the Master Services Agreement
Help your legal team avoid “roadblock reputation” and start your partnerships off on the right foot by automating the Master Services Agreement (MSA) process.
Before Services or Hosting can get started working on a new customer implementation project, the client needs to sign a Master Services Agreement (MSA) to initiate the partnership between the two parties. This process seems pretty straightforward, but even short delays can be frustrating and set a new partnership off on the wrong foot.
What is a Master Services Agreement?
A Master Services Agreement (MSA) is a contract that outlines the terms and conditions governing the ongoing business relationship between two parties — typically a service provider and a client. It serves as a foundational document that establishes the general terms under which future transactions, projects, or services will be carried out between the parties. Instead of negotiating terms anew for each project or service, the MSA provides a framework that can be referenced and incorporated by reference into specific project-related documents, such as Statements of Work (SOWs).
The MSA is signed at the outset of the business relationship, and subsequent projects are typically executed through Statements of Work that incorporate the terms and conditions established in the MSA. For many companies, an MSA will be needed before any work can be done for the customer. For this reason, it is ideal to automate the MSA and send it immediately after the customer is closed. Then, using automation, information can be gathered and retained in a central system for audit reasons and to ease the SOW process that may come later.
Why automate the Master Services Agreement?
A slow MSA process frustrates everyone: your Sales team, your Customer Success team, your new customer, and the legal team. But a fast, efficient process (and one that uses workflow automation) makes your legal team the hero, working quietly behind the scenes to ensure that deals close quickly, services begin immediately, and renewal goes smoothly.
Legal teams can suffer “roadblock reputation,” which is exacerbated by a slow start to get the contract underway – a situation that is often out of their hands. But workflow automation handles all of the obstacles that are often associated with the contracting process. For example, with an integration into Salesforce or your CRM, a closed deal can automatically trigger an MSA to get sent out – without waiting for a salesperson or member of the Customer Success team to initiate it.
With a robust workflow platform, legal teams can design a “flow” that pulls an MSA template from a document library, ensuring that the terms have been pre-approved and are ready to immediately meet the new client. If the customer requires any changes, these updates can trigger automated responses and either get automatically rejected, accepted, or escalated to an expert on your team.
An efficient handoff between Sales and Customer Success following a closed deal is critical to a long term retention strategy. It’s at this moment that the promises made during the sales process meet the reality of implementation and service delivery. With workflow automation, legal teams prove to be not only a central part of the process, but a part that helps both parties succeed.
After the MSA signature – and beyond!
After the MSA is signed by relevant parties, workflow automation ensures that it is properly and securely stored – and ready for an audit at any moment. When the client is ready for a new Statement of Work, the information gathered in that first MSA can be pulled into the new form, making it simple for your relevant stakeholder from Customer Success, Account Management, or Services to get the right data with zero mistakes or errors. Depending on the initial terms, workflow automation can ensure that the right template is pulled from the template library and that the SOWs are always compliant with the initial terms.
Getting contracts out the door quickly can seem simple, but they are often causes of delay and frustration – two things that quickly sour new relationships. With workflow automation, the challenges associated with MSAs fade into the background, and clients can focus on their projects (and your product).