Version control is an extremely important part of the contract management process. Without version control, changes become permanent and team members don’t always know whether or not they are working from the latest version of a document. Here are some ways to successfully avoid these and other version control issues:
1. Collaborate on Contracts in Real Time
Instead of emailing a contract to a colleague and then waiting around for them to make changes and send it back to you, only to have them save the revised version in another name (meanwhile you’ve also made changes and saved your version in yet another name), a contract management system will allow your team to simultaneously collaborate on the same document at the same time, taking full advantage of the teamwork approach without creating multiple versions.
2. Use Administrative Controls to Give and Restrict Permissions
With manual contract management, there is no way to fully control the permissions of individual colleagues when it comes to read-only and editing permissions regarding a document. But contract management software allows an administrator to give and withdraw permissions to multiple collaborators, subject to final approval of the lead editor, preventing team members from overwriting each other’s work.
3. Make Use of Pre-Built Templates and Clauses
Generating consistent contract drafts manually is difficult and time consuming. But inserting the appropriate legal clauses into contracts is simple with the Octiv platform through the use of pre-assembled, situation specific content incorporated with just a single click. This capability has allowed companies like GE to execute more than 1,000 digital contracts in a little over a year’s time, reducing their overall cycle time by 70 percent.
4. Avoid Email as a Form of Document Sharing
Distributing contracts for review via email is risky, may lead to version control issues, and could be especially challenging during contractual negotiations and disputes. But an integrated, automated contract management system will track the entire review chain, recording all approvals, changes and rejections. If there is ever a question about the status of contract, a contract management platform makes it simple to track the “what, when and by whom” issues.
5. Don’t Track Your Contracts Manually
Manual contract management via spreadsheets means there is no completely accurate way to handle version control issues. Because it is extremely difficult to track all the updates made in spreadsheet programs like Excel, an organization that manages contracts manually frequently ends up with multiple versions of the same document. This lack of standardization of systems, processes, formats and clauses can result in a greater risk for inaccuracy.
6. Maintain a “Single Source of Truth”
Contract management software takes away the confusion over which version of the document is the most recent – the one version of the truth. The Octiv Contract Management system records all actions taken on a contract in a secure audit history; notifies team members of these actions (including by whom and when); makes redlines visible to everyone involved, and allows teams to work with the tools they are most familiar with.
7. Use an Automated Contract Management System
A contract management platform with a cloud-based repository allows all team members to easily view the status of a contract as it moves from “draft” to “pending approval” to “approved” to “fully executed.” Because everyone is working with the same document, there is virtually no risk of version control issues or nonconformity with an approved or executed contract.
For more information on how the Octiv platform can simplify and streamline the contract management process at your organization, contact Octiv today.