Collaboration has become a key part of doing business across all industries. Whether it’s creating internal or external communication materials, contracts, or project deliverables, teams from across departments — and, in some companies, from different offices around the country and the world — must work together to create one integrated, seamless finished product. While collaboration helps improve productivity, creativity, and control of the final product, it’s not without its pitfalls.
Without the right tools, collaboration can be little more than an exercise in frustration. Imagine, for instance, that you are working on a contract with your legal department. Your counsel has promised an edited version of the document, so you spend your morning hitting refresh on your email inbox every 20 minutes, hoping for the document to arrive. It’s only after several hours of no updates that you learn the contract has been ready for hours — but it wasn’t emailed, but saved on a shared drive. Or even worse, you located a version of the contract on the shared drive, but it wasn’t complete. You execute the incomplete contract, thus inadvertently putting your company in legal hot water.
Collaboration in the enterprise, especially when it comes to contracting, can create bottlenecks to productivity, increase the potential for error, and cost money. That is, unless there is a solution in place that streamlines the document generation process and eliminates many of the pitfalls of traditional collaborative contracting processes. Document generation software fills this role, freeing up your teams to focus on higher-value priorities, while also reducing risk.
Moving Collaboration Forward
In many companies, the process of document collaboration involves using word processing software and sending a file back and forth throughout members of the team so they can all make edits and comments as necessary. Although word processing has become more sophisticated in recent years with an eye toward improving collaboration tools, in many companies it remains cumbersome and risky to collaborate in this fashion.
Much of the risk comes from a lack version control. Without a centralized system that allows all users to see what has been changed, and by whom, it’s possible that multiple people could be making changes to a contract at the same time — thus creating several “final” versions, neither of which is 100 percent correct. With an automated document assembly and management system, this risk is reduced. Everyone working on the files has access to the same documents, and even if changes are made simultaneously, everyone can see who is changing what, eliminating confusion and error.
However, implementing document generation software does more than just make it easy to track changes. It’s also a vital tool for increasing the security of your important documents. When important projects and contract details are stored on individual computers or in email, the risk of the information falling into the wrong hands increases exponentially. It’s not inconceivable that someone could accidentally attach the incorrect file to an email, for instance, or inadvertently send sensitive information outside of the organization — and that’s in addition to the normal security risks that any enterprise faces. By containing collaboration to a single application, you can grant permission-based access to projects and contracts, ensuring that only those who need access to the documents have it.
Finally, a technological document generation solution improves collaboration by establishing better workflows to eliminate bottlenecks. Integrating the system with other applications can streamline processes and protocols to improve the efficiency of the operation. In fact, with the right integrations, your teams may be able to produce compliant documents without having to wait for additional information from other departments. Again, this speeds up key processes while also freeing up employees to focus on those tasks that generate more revenue. For example, by storing templates and clauses for contracts in a document generation library, your teams can use intuitive wizards to develop contracts that meet all requirements without input from the legal department, saving time and money.
Collaboration is an important part of any modern business environment, but it doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration or put your business in harm’s way. With the right document assembly and collaboration technology in place, the process can be as streamlined and efficient as it is intended to be — and you’ll see an increase in innovation and productivity across the organization.