Balancing Manual Contract Creation With Automation

Imagine yourself in a classic roadster with a manual transmission on one hand – representing the traditional, hands-on approach of manual contract creation. On the other hand, imagine a futuristic hot rod that hypothetically drives itself – symbolizing a fully-automated process – bereft of crucial human involvement. Which one do you choose?

Similarly, with contracts, how can we remember to not solely rely on cutting-edge software, when there is so much we can do on our own for low-risk and high-reward legal ops success. Luckily, there is a solution that lies in the middle – a balancing act of both manual and automated contract creation. Let’s hit the road and explore!

1. Hybrid Approach: Classic Roadster & Futuristic Hot Rod

Driving enthusiasts appreciate the appeal of both vintage automobiles and the idea of self-driving sports cars of the future. The classic roadster gives you a sense of control and engagement – while futuristic sports cars offer speed and ease. Most cars these days give you the best of both worlds: an automatic transmission that shifts for drivers while they handle the rest of the job. Similarly, contract creation can benefit from the fusion of both manual control and semi-automation.

With standard contracts – similar to driving on a straight, open highway – you can engage the cruise control of semi-automated contract creation. You draft a comprehensive contract, replicate it for different clients with template standardization, pull from a pool of standard clauses, and make necessary tweaks along the way. This method offers reliability and ease.

On the other hand, when you hit the busy city streets or winding country roads that represent complex contracts requiring bespoke terms or negotiation, manual control becomes vital. You will need to turn off cruise control and manually engage with the brake pedal, gas pedal, and wheel. Here, your team’s expertise and bespoke drafting skills are needed to correctly capture the terms of unique and complicated business relationships.

Let’s see how we can execute this hybrid approach in practice. For a semi-automated approach, select commonly used agreements with common clauses. These might include non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), master service agreements (MSAs), or sales purchase agreements (SPAs) – all of which often follow a standard structure and wording. Once these more standard contracts and clauses are identified, draft a comprehensive contract that serves as a blueprint for replicating contracts for various clients. Your team can adjust for minor variances in terms and conditions. Perhaps you may want to use a contract management software that allows you to merge specific contract data with your master contract.

If things get complicated, this strategy might not apply. Perhaps you are facing contracts that demand unique negotiation points, such as joint venture agreements, acquisition agreements, or complex service level agreements (SLAs). Here, your team needs to manually draft – activating the team’s skills for generating bespoke terms for these complicated contracts without the help of automation.

This hybrid approach offers a level of flexibility that cannot be offered by a solely automated or entirely manual process. It’s important to know the CLM features that your team can leverage for hybrid contract creation and contract management success.

2. Navigational Aid for Risk: Know Where You Are Going

Road signs are vital in guiding us on our journey – ensuring we’re on the right path. Navigation systems. such as GPS, can make this job even easier – further guiding us with directions to our destination.

But what if our navigational system gives us a choice between two routes – and we need to choose the best one to get somewhere quickly and safely? What if the navigational system is temporarily disabled? What if we need to enter mostly untouched terrain – for which there is no GPS guidance available?

Similarly, legal teams need to be able to make an array of decisions based on contract risk. With pre-established guidelines, something like a risk assessment matrix can leverage past contracts to map out risk and risk exposure. However, teams need to work with such automation tools to decipher what’s really going on – double checking the tools’ conclusions (especially if there are multiple options given on how to proceed).

Additionally, teams can encounter new types of contracts and specific situations which such automation tools cannot solve alone without their expertise. In very unique situations, automation tools might not be able to do anything. Such is the reason your team needs to be up to date with legal operations and risk management best practices.

There is a balance of semi-automation and human involvement here as well. To execute risk management with a risk assessment matrix, legal teams must input contract data and configure aspects of a contract to analyze – such as confidentiality exposure, revenue loss exposure, and reputation exposure. In order for the matrix to map information appropriately, a legal expert must input the right values and limitations for probability and exposure percentages.

In case you are getting started with contract creation and CLM software but need to convince multiple stakeholders, this free guide can help you make your case.

3. Regular Tune-ups: The Importance of Continuous Training

Just like how a car requires regular maintenance in an auto body shop to perform optimally, your team needs consistent training and skill development to stay efficient and productive.

Regular training sessions serve as opportunities to boost understanding of contractual terms, identify common patterns in standard contracts, and develop reusable templates. These tune-ups can streamline your contract creation process, making it run as smoothly as a well-maintained engine.

Moreover, encourage your team to share their experiences, the challenges they’ve faced, the triumphs they’ve had, and the insights they’ve gathered along the way. This culture of shared wisdom can further refine your contract creation process – identifying potential areas for improvement and semi-automation.

To get started, an organization can host monthly legal operations workshops – in which legal teams gather per a guided agenda to keep up with regularly with contract management best practices. The agenda should include the following:

  • a presentation (perhaps an update on the state of legal operations).
  • breakout sessions (so that legal resources can brainstorm amongst themselves.
  • a live Q&A with a high-ranking legal expert.
  • mock trials for handling a hypothetical contract’s lifecycle or a risk management decision.

End of the Road

In the winding roads of contract management, your team is the driver, the navigator, and the auto body shop. They must know when to shift gears, which route to take, and when the car needs services. It’s a journey filled with straight highways and winding paths, gradual climbs, and fast descents.

By driving with a perfect balance of the old-world charm of manual contract creation and the streamlined efficiency of automation, your team can navigate this highway of contract management successfully.

Book a free demo of a contract management solution that provides a balance of manual and automated processes for success today!

Until next time, happy driving!

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