How to ensure you have proper version control when drafting business documents and contracts
One of the most common problems businesses have today, and perhaps the least well addressed, is that of ensuring version control in documents which require input from several parties. There are many situations where business and contractual documents are drafted and require checking from many different staff members and stakeholders. Some of these situations include:
1.Drafting any form of contract that does not have strictly standard terms and requires amendments and approvals;
2. Drafting business documents such as business plans, business proposals, position descriptions, board minutes and minutes of board meetings;
3. Drafting documents in relation to litigation or dispute resolution such as legal arguments, position statements, pleadings, statements of facts; and
4. Execution of business plans in relation to marketing or other areas e.g. approval of content marketing such as articles or website copy.
Not ensuring proper version control when drafting such documents could lead to the following scenarios:
1. Time wasted by a senior executive reviewing incorrect versions of a document;
2. Overlapping changes i.e. two parties review two different versions of a document at the same time and make changes to the same part of it at the same time. These changes then cannot be easily reconciled with one another. This creates a mess that may have to be sorted out manually and this wastes more time;
3. The wrong version of a document being published that has errors or incorrect information;
4. An essential amendment may be made to one version of a document and then the incorrect version of a document may be used as the final document mistakenly. This could lead to problems such as compliance breaches or other regulatory issues
5. A person who does not have authority to review certain parts of a master document may review them and thus changes could be made without obtaining the proper approvals.
So how do you ensure you have a system that ensures proper version control? And where can you find such a solution?
Products such as Google Docs allow for more than one user to view and make changes to a master document at the same time (in real time) thus reducing the need for multiple versions of a document to be floating around. However, for business documents these systems are not always the best solutions as they do not allow you to lock down specific sections of a document or to give access to specific parts of a document to specific people i.e. these systems lack control.
A software solution that can control the negotiation and collaboration process and content can be much more effective. This is because it will not only allow multiple parties to be working on a master document at the same time (in real time) but gives you the option to configure the process. For example, you may set it up so only one person may have access to one section at a time and you can choose which people have access to certain parts of a document. What’s more, such a system also allows you to configure it so that it automatically sequences the proper workflows and approval routing with your internal team members as well with counterparties. Such a system can also enable you to build a history of each user and interaction for audit and compliance purposes or to assess where something has “gotten stuck”. Such systems can capture data about the collaboration process and in the future machine learning may be able to suggest how to amend such processes to prevent roadblocks e.g. identifying that the drafts are always being delayed at a certain juncture and suggesting an alternative sequence for review.
ContractRoom is one such solution. It can assist you in controlling versions of draft documents. You can view the videos below to see how its multi-party drafting functionality works:
Multi-user Team Collaboration https://youtu.be/MZp-UMcK0GE
Collaboration Systems in Negotiation - https://youtu.be/uLWHTo3Y6MQ
ContractRoom is the home of #HappyContracting and has just been named by LegalTech News as the winner of the Innovation Awards for the category of Collaboration Tool - http://ow.ly/4ndJs9. To find out more or shedule a demo visit www.contractroom.com.