Music in the Key of Savings

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Tell us about your organization. 

We’re responsible for sales, marketing, and distribution of Yamaha musical products and instruments, AV products, and commercial audio products. We offer a full line of musical instruments and audiovisual products to the U.S. market. We’re headquartered in Orange County, Calif.

What challenges were you facing? 

We were dealing with a very laborious contract management process. It involved sending hard-copy documents to the [Yamaha] dealers, often through FedEx. The documents were many pages—15 to 30, on average. Each required multiple signatures and initials. We have a standard dealer agreement, but supporting attachments were customized for each dealer. It would take months to complete customized contracts. Sometimes contracts would not be returned and we’d need to follow up. Contracts would be lost and we’d need to generate a new packet, or we’d need to have a district manager go make a personal visit just to follow up on the contracts. It was a very inefficient process. We require up-to-date signed dealer agreements; making that happen was quite labor-intensive. It would be fair to say that the process involves more than 7,000 documents that need to be signed.

What was the tipping point? 

Mike Machado, the systems specialist in the music marketing group, led the process. We evaluated five or six different candidates and narrowed to a short list of two. We made the final selection of DocuSign with a roll-out in May of 2007. It was about a two-month window of time to prepare for the launch. One of the main things was obtaining the contact information for all of the dealers in order to begin emailing rather than snail-mailing. Now, all the documents reside on DocuSign’s hosted server and they’re linked into Salesforce.com.

Describe the results. 

This really was attacked by two sides. One was a green initiative: We cut down on a gigantic paper trail, so it helps protect the environment. Second, from a business continuity plan, the key benefit is that we now have secure copy stored of these agreements where, in the past, they were one-of-a-kind documents without a back-up. It also eliminates the inefficient mass-mailing costs. Accuracy is now 100 percent, whereas in the past, documents were returned with pages or signatures missing, requiring more work.

The time-saving is significant because, in the past, the preparation of the hard copy, the mailing of the hard copy, and then the follow-up of the document would require a significant amount of time. The visibility we have helps to pinpoint where we are in the process. Our CRM team can see exactly where the document is in the signing process. Has it been sent? Has the dealer signed it? Has the division manager signed? Has the sales manager signed it? We can see where we are in the process of the approval. Now we can turn documents around in just minutes. As long as customers have access to Internet and email, they can basically sign a contract. It takes the time down from a month to a day.

SIDEBAR: 5 Fast Facts

How old is the initiative?
We implemented DocuSign in May 2007.

Who was involved in the decision process?
All of the sales and IT team members.

Biggest surprise?
The positive reaction of our dealer network. Another surprise was the improvement in accuracy and visibility that the automation brings to Yamaha and to the process.

What was the best idea?
Including credit applications and resale certificates in the electronic signature program—that added tremendous value.

Biggest mistake?
Data quality. You don’t always realize how important it is to identify the appropriate people associated with the business, and to record any changes. It’s so important to keep contacts and information as accurate as possible.

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