Maintaining Contract Version Control

Maintaining version control when managing contracts is often one of the most tedious aspects of drafting and negotiating, if done manually. When drafting a contract, you need to collaborate and gain the proper approvals from the right people. At first, it’s fairly simple to keep track of all of the changes that your fellow collaborators make to the document. But, as timelines between people often don’t match up properly, or you get so many versions back with edits that you forget which ones have already been added and which ones haven’t, your contract gets convoluted quickly.

When trying to sort out which edits go in which place, scattered throughout different versions, some edits either fall through the cracks, or at least, the entire contract management process slows down while you sort out what’s important and what isn’t. Inefficiency in version control can be a costly endeavor.

 

When proper version control is maintained through automation, however, time needed to execute a contract can be substantially reduced, accuracy increased, and errors within the document can be avoided. The simple solution to increasing version control is to edit in a central location.

Edit in a Central Location

The greatest challenge to maintaining version control is often times, simply the quantity of document versions. Whether you’re using paper copies, emailed copies, or copies saved to a shared drive, there are simply too many versions to keep careful track of.

If you use email to share a contract, for example, you send out copies of a contract to a number of different people. They all make their edits to their copies, and they convey their edits to you at separate times. It is not uncommon, however, for there to be discrepancies in the timing of the responses from your colleagues. One may respond early, and another late. This forces you to either incorporate the early comments and resend the document without other edits, or wait until all other comments have come in so you can keep track of them all. This is tedious and time consuming, and it reduces overall collaboration.

Another method for collaboration is using a shared drive. This means that collaborators have consistent access to a document, but when they open it individually it is still only a copy of the original. What happens when two people edit independently and simultaneously, and then save their edited contract into the folder under the same name? One of the edits gets lost entirely, resulting in frustration and a lack of good ideas.

If, however, you were to use a central location for drafting a contract, such as a Google Doc or a template in a Contract Lifecycle Management System, then all contributors would be editing the same document, not multiple copies of a document. This means that edits can be viewed by all in real time. Contributors can comment back and forth, and you can watch the entire process unfold. This saves time, frustration, and confusion in the long run.

Upgrade to CLM Software

A Google Doc is an example of a good place to start when drafting documents. It provides a central location, where individuals can make edits and track changes (to an extent), but it is not ideal for contract drafting and collaboration. The easiest way to maintain version control, track changes, and really become interactive with your contract drafting is to utilize a CLM software solution which not only tracks changes, but creates new document versions automatically when a change is made. Using CLM software, you can edit and store contracts in a central location, invite discussion, comments, edits, and revisions to be made directly from your colleagues and clients. These edits can be easily tracked, and signed electronically. You can know when an edit is made, who made the change, and have permanent access to any comments that they made about why the change was added. This reduces confusion in the office, and increases the efficacy of your collaborative efforts. Better collaboration means better ideas, better contracts, and greater revenue from those contracts.

 

For more information, please schedule a demo or chat with one of our associates.