This is a lightly revised version (the bio is at the end instead of the beginning) of my guest blog post, Embracing the new software for transforming Contract Management, which originally appeared on September 2, 2016, on ContractRoom’s Agreement Blog.
Here I explain the steps that need to be taken when moving from the old way of contracting (with Microsoft Word and endless back-and-forth) to the new dynamic guided way of doing deals with new software. That is to say contracting with a modern contract lifecycle management software that not only guides the process but also gathers and analyses data, providing suggestions for how you can do deals better in the future – Predictive AgreementTM.
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How to embrace the new contract management software – Steps for adopting the new contract management and contract lifecycle management software
As a law school grad and former legal clerk, I’m familiar with the challenges of the billable hour. You need to account for exactly what you’ve done in 6 minute unit blocks. And, unfortunately there are many tedious tasks that need to be completed before you can get to your substantive work that aren’t even considered “billable”. In order to meet your practice’s quota of daily billable hours you end up having to work almost double that amount of time!
But what if for one of the types of work you engage with on a regular basis, that of contracting, there was a technology that could do the the menial non-chargeable tasks for you? Well, this technology does exist, and I will explain how to engage with this technology and it’s benefits below. For those working in-house in corporate law, who are lucky enough not to have to suffer from billable hours and also regularly engage in contract drafting and negotiation, this software can be just as, if not more useful, than for private practice attorneys.
Here’s how to embrace this new technology – and in particular how to embrace one particular platform, ContractRoom.
Step One: Step Away From Your Text Editor
Step away from your text editor. Yes, that includes Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word is wonderful and is actually a quite powerful tool. It actually has functionality for “rich text content controls” which could be considered powerful. However, it’s most likely you don’t know what these controls are, and even if you do and are using them, the functionality these controls provide still does not match that of those within the promised land of contracting – advanced contract management software system such as ContractRoom. These systems are also intuitive and, dare I say, fun.*
Step Two: Forget cut and paste and traditional methods
In ContractRoom, drafting a contract can be as simple as dragging and dropping standard contract clauses and clicking to edit the text as you desire.
You can draft a contract with standard language and decide that only a handful of words are terms which are customizable. Or, you can draft a contract where only two paragraphs will always appear and the visibility of ten more paragraphs depends on criteria that you input into the software. Want to include a liquidated damages clause only if the total value of the contract is over a given amount? You can do that. All you have to do is write a rule, and writing rules is as simple as using drop down menus.
It is noted that arriving at this point may involve some preparation on your firm or organization’s part. You may need to set a plan in motion for building standard contracts and processes for assembling documents that you believe would be most effective for following. Investing in this project will have major benefits in the end as you will be able to draft and assemble contracts much more quickly as well as optimizing and tweaking them continually. You will also have more control over what documents and versions of documents are drafted within your organization. Here are some articles about standardizing contracts and document assembly that may prove useful:
- Embrace standards – don’t use form contracts
- The new method for document assembly – a modular approach; and
- Standardization of contractual language – the pros and cons
Step 3: Use data to optimize for future agreements
Once you are using your contract standards and the workflow system and it becomes part of your routine, the system will be automatically collecting and analyzing data from your contract engagements. You can review this information in a report format and make your own decisions based on this on how to best proceed in a current contracting engagement. For example, the system may show one particular version of a clause is being accepted more frequently by counterparties than another form so you decide to use it. Alternatively you can pay heed to the dynamic suggestions that ContractRoom provides which it makes by analyzing data using machine learning techniques/ artificial intelligence.
Step 4: Enjoy all the free time you have that is not spent engaging in inefficient contracting processes
Put your feet up and relax. Have your favorite drink or indulge in a good book. You deserve to enjoy this extra time doing whatever you would like to do!
So there you have 4 steps along the path to mastery of new contract management software, and in particular ContractRoom.
What are your thoughts about these steps? Do you think you will happily proceed along this path? Why? Why not?
*For those of you who are really curious as to what “rich text content controls” are, you can find them under the “Developer” tab in Microsoft Word. If your Microsoft Word doesn’t have a “Developer” tab, that’s all the more reason to keep reading.