3 Head-Smacking ‘Track Changes’ Contract Errors
There’s no doubt that Microsoft Word transformed how people create and edit content. However, Word is not always ideal for contract negotiation and multi-party collaboration, especially when it comes to the
use misuse of Track Changes. Even those most proficient in Word have admitted to these “Doh!’ mistakes.
‘Track Changes’ Contract Errors
Tracking changes, or redlining, is the contract lifecycle stage where team members and stakeholders review, mark, strike and comment on the terms of an unfinalized agreement. This process takes place in a series of rounds, where the two parties send the document back and forth with edits until it’s satisfactory to both parties.
Because of this, redlining is often the most time-consuming stage in a contract lifecycle and can take months or even years to complete especially when you don’t properly track changes made to the agreement. Tracking changes in an agreement involves documenting any edits made to an agreement by either side, providing greater visibility into its versions.
Ways to optimize contract change tracking include:
- Highlighting edits made during each phase of the negotiation process
- Utilizing version contract and keeping track of previous versions of the contract
- Establishing tasks, triggers, and an alert system related to contract amendments
- Ensuring that all team members and stakeholders are redlining the same contract version
Why is it necessary to track the change of contract?
One of the most prevalent contract errors made by businesses today is the failure to track changes. Various contract versions and amendments make it challenging to keep up with all of the changes made throughout the creation of your business deals. Because of this, it’s extremely common for businesses to overlook modifications made to a document, especially those made late in the negotiation stage. However, it’s important to keep track of any amendments made to a contract to ensure that both parties fully understand all of the terms and obligations and aren’t signing off on something they did not know about.
Remembering to turn on track changes
It’s become a natural reflex to open up a document you receive and start editing immediately. Sometimes you’ve gone too deep before realizing that Track Changes wasn’t turned on. Or, an exec sends you a cut of edits but you don’t see any visible redlines, and so begins the hunt for changes.
Forgetting you’re in “no markup” mode
Often times you want to work in the contract without being distracted by all the previous markups with automated contract markup in the document. It’s easy to forget that you were reviewing in the “No Markup” view mode and didn’t actually accept any changes. If you mistakenly neglect to accept or reject all proposed changes and delete all comments, you can disclose confidential information to the outside party. This error can all sorts of confidential data, from business and negotiating strategy to financial information.
Blanket ‘Accept all’
When you’ve spent hours poring over multiple contract versions and merging endless edits, it’s easy to miss suggestions or feedback that were intended to be comments and not text changes. Although all may seem fine at a glance and it’s convenient to hit “accept all,” your contract may end up with unintended Easter eggs, from as simple as “Check with Kate on this” to more compromising company data that was meant for internal reference only.
While it’s a good idea to be more cautious and thorough when using Track Changes, contracts are too more important to leave to manual cautiousness alone. Consider using tools designed for contracts, like Parley Pro, that can do the meticulous consolidation of all versions and edits for you with safeguards to protect you and your company from errors.
The importance of avoiding the above unilateral mistakes in contract
The mistakes discussed in this article are contract errors that you can easily avoid. Even so, these issues can cost your business time and money in the long run if you do not take care to prevent them.
- Remembering to turn on track changes
When you neglect to turn on the “track changes” function, you essentially lose all previous versions of the agreement and will have to take the time to search for and pick out edits made by your team and the other party. Before editing your document, take a second to ensure that the “track changes” function is on because it can save you a ton of time down the line.
- Forgetting you’re in “no markup” mode.
Forgetting to turn off “no markup” mode can be a costly mistake. It’s important to keep this mode on when viewing and making edits to a document so that you know what has previously been edited and don’t make the mistake of accidentally accepting or deleting comments which could lead to confidential information leaks. Use automated contract markup.
- Blanket ‘Accept all’
Make sure to proceed with caution before hitting the ‘accept all’ button. Making the mistake of doing so can cost you time in the long run or even lead to contract compliance tracking issues if comments are accidentally added to the body of your agreement.