Technology for a world-class science leader.

Merck transforms time-consuming procurement by digitalising workflows with the help of Adobe Acrobat Sign.

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Employees: 52,000

Darmstadt, Germany

1,400% faster

time to signature, from 7.5 days to half a day


Adobe Document Cloud >

Adobe Acrobat Sign >


Shift employee efforts away from manual document processes to value-added work

Improve employee experience through streamlined, innovative solutions

Reduce waste and cost associated with processing paper documents


1,400% faster time to signature, from 7.5 days to half a day

Seamless integration with third-party procurement systems

Ability to sign from anywhere with mobile access

New hire contracts returned in one day, compared to one week

350 years of science innovation

In 1668, Friedrich Jacob Merck assumed ownership of a pharmacy in Darmstadt, Germany. Passed along from generation to generation, that single pharmacy grew into Merck KGaA, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with a presence in 66 countries. With its three core businesses—Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials—Merck leads industries by developing highly innovative medicines, chemicals, technologies and solutions that make a difference in millions of lives.

“This year represents Merck’s 350th anniversary of helping to advance science,” says Dimitri Metzger, Global Project Manager—Strategic Cloud Solutions & Digital Transformation at Merck. “Our company has thrived for so long because it is constantly reinventing itself. That’s what drives our innovation and it’s part of our push for digital transformation.”

Research is a key part of every Merck business and with such in-depth investigation comes careful documentation. This is especially true when researching in heavily regulated fields such as pharmaceuticals. Traditionally documentation has been paper-based and time-consuming. Merck wanted to transform these manual processes and remove administrative headaches so that employees could concentrate on more valuable tasks.

“Employee experience is very important at Merck because happy and productive employees produce better work, leading to more innovative and creative solutions for our end-users,” says Metzger. “Therefore, we believe that supporting our employees by enabling them to do their jobs with seamless processes contributes to the company’s success.”

Merck wanted to streamline and digitise documentation processes for employees. But the solution needed to achieve this had to be intuitive enough to help create a seamless user experience from day one without painful learning curves.

Merck found the ease of use that it was looking for with Adobe Acrobat Sign, the electronic signature solution in Adobe Document Cloud. With Adobe Acrobat Sign, Merck can implement 100% digital document workflows that include signatures and approvals. Even deployment was simple, as Merck leveraged single sign-on to easily manage users. Merck identified two early use cases where Adobe Acrobat Sign could transform workflows, increase efficiencies and improve experiences for both signers and administrators: procurement and onboarding of new recruits.

“With Adobe Acrobat Sign, we no longer need painful paper processes,” says Metzger. “We’re leveraging a digital transformation to make experiences better for everyone: our employees, our partners and ultimately our customers.”

“Before Adobe Acrobat Sign, there was really no way to speed up the signature workflow because we relied on mail and the postal system was out of our hands. With Adobe Acrobat Sign, we have more control over the end to end process. We can track the status of a document in the workflow and automate or send reminder emails to the signer with a few clicks and dramatically reduce delays in procurement.”

Dimitri Metzger

Global Project Manager—Strategic Cloud Solutions & Digital Transformation at Merck

Shaving one week off time to signature

As a multinational corporation, Merck often has employees from different offices and countries that need to collaborate and work together. Having these separate locations could often lengthen delays for workflows involving paper documents. For example, procurement contracts generally needed at least two signatures: one from a manager in the department making the purchase and one from the procurement department.

This process required printing out a copy of the contract and mailing it to a line manager at another campus. The manager would then sign the contract and put it back by post for approval from the procurement department at another office. There were many chances for delays as documents might get lost by post or sit unopened on a busy manager’s desk.

Adobe Acrobat Sign introduced a seamless digital workflow that has reduced the average time for signature for procurement contracts from 7.5 days to just half a day. Part of the speed and ease of use comes from various integrations with available business solutions.

Procurement employees can trigger the contract signature workflow in just a few clicks from the dashboard. Completed agreements are stored digitally, which makes it much easier and less costly to store and retrieve past records. Now if agents need to recheck the exact terms of a contract, they simply log in to Adobe Acrobat Sign instead of needing to travel to an offsite storage facility.

A next step will be to implement an integration between Adobe Acrobat Sign and procurement software from SAP Ariba.

“Using the standard APIs in Adobe Acrobat Sign, we can integrate Adobe Acrobat Sign with tools and systems that we already use,” says Rahul Jain, Project Manager Business Technology R&D at Merck. “Users can initiate and monitor electronic signatures from software that they’ve been using for years instead of trying to jump to a new solution. This improves ease of use and productivity for our employees without needing to train people on a completely new solution.”

The contract signature process is equally simple for contract recipients. Signers receive an email containing a link that allows them to view and sign the document from any device, even mobile phones.

By reducing the time to signature for procurement contracts, Merck can place orders with suppliers faster. This reduces delays and helps to prevent waits for time-critical orders.

“Before Adobe Acrobat Sign, there was really no way to speed up the signature workflow because we relied on mail and the postal system was out of our hands,” says Metzger. “With Adobe Acrobat Sign, we have more control over the end to end process. We can track the status of a document in the workflow and automate or send reminder emails to the signer with a few clicks and dramatically reduce delays in procurement.”

Merck is aiming to complete 5,000 procurement transactions in its first year after implementing Adobe Acrobat Sign. This includes non-disclosure agreements, master service agreements and service contracts, which can be 15 pages long. Eliminating the need to print such volumes of paper has already produced a significant environmental impact, saving an estimated 2,000 kg of wood and 53,000 litres of water in eight months.*

Competing for top talent

The first step towards producing great innovations comes from hiring the best possible talent. Merck’s human resources department works to impress top candidates by delivering customised digital onboarding and contract packages through Adobe Acrobat Sign.

Every contract package is unique, containing countless variations of documents depending on the role, benefits, relocation assistance and regional legal requirements.

Previously, it could take a significant amount of time just for agents to collate each bespoke paper-based package. Once complete, agents mailed the completed contract package to the candidate for review and signature, followed by routeing it to the head of HR services for counter signature before finalising employment.

Using Adobe Acrobat Sign, Merck eliminated the need for HR service agents to print, mail and route paper documents. An easy workflow within Adobe Acrobat Sign allows service agents to create customised contract packages in 50% less time — choosing the right combination of documents needed for each contract package and reducing both errors and processing time

“Because it’s so easy for candidates to view and sign contracts, we’re getting contracts returned in one working day,” says Metzger. “Adobe Acrobat Sign helps us position Merck as a modern digital company, which helps us to attract innovative talent.”

Adobe Acrobat Sign also provides much more visibility to the onboarding and hiring process. Recruiters receive notification as the contract package is passed along to various stakeholders. With more data insight, the HR team can continue to improve workflows and deliver even better experiences for new hires.

“Being an innovator means always being on the leading edge with technology,” says Metzger. “Adobe Acrobat Sign supports our digital transformation so that our employees can focus on valuable contributions to scientific innovation that help Merck change millions of lives.”

*Environmental savings calculated using the Adobe Document Cloud Resource Saver Calculator.

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