A post by Andrew Davis on the Exari blog added several ideas to my post about the four issues can actually benefit from document assembly (See my post of Oct. 7, 2009: contract management’s four key concerns.). His main point is that document assembly addresses and at least partially solves each concern. In what follows I have quoted selectively from his much longer discussion.
Contract drafting. “Business users hate MS Word templates. Their eyes glaze over when they see square brackets and verbose user instructions.” “Further, PDF output ensures that the business user can’t modify the document post-production.”
Contract review. ”For legal departments with contract review policies in place, document assembly systems can enforce those policies by embedding them into the system as rules. “
Contract negotiation. “Document assembly can improve negotiation in two ways:
By building commonly negotiated fall-back scenarios into the system (with different answers triggering the inclusion of particular provisions) the negotiation process is made much faster. Some systems can actually capture all edits made to a document after it has been generated. That ensures any changes made by a counter-party are visible …. Further, these negotiated positions can even be applied to subsequent agreements such as renewals.”
Contract tracking. ”[A] document assembly system can provide huge advantages via integration. They are able to: Automatically push the execution version of an agreement into the contract management system in electronic form (even if the document has been heavily negotiated). Flag the extent to which clauses have been modified; which changes are simply approved fallback provisions, and which contain bespoke wording.”
These advantages that Davis cites are tangible My only beef with document assembly has to do with how long it takes to develop a robust application and how many times a law department needs that application to be used to amortize the development expense.