A contract or any document that is finalized and signed is legally binding on the parties involved. But preparing a contract isn’t a one man job and it shouldn’t be. When you need inputs from multiple teams/co-authors, there is bound to be a lot of hands on the document. Entries, revisions, refinements, approvals, rejections, suggestions …are all inevitable. But why is it important to know who made what change? Isn’t it enough to have a terrific looking, signed and attested finalized copy without having to get into who said what? Let’s see.
Three reasons Why
Any change made to the document should be made by someone who is authorized to do so. Co-authors in the document collaboration process all have access to the document being created but they don’t always have the authority to make changes to all parts of the document. In the final approval stage, it becomes crucial to see if the change is valid; to verify if the entry is authenticated by someone with authority and qualification to make the edit.
It isn’t a blame game, but an author of a document is in fact the person responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the document. He is accountable for errors or misrepresentation of facts in the document. Regulatory compliance may also require an individual or business to track changes in a document or contract such as in legal, finance, or healthcare.
Corporate espionage, information theft and sabotage are all very real threats that can crash your business with a few, well aimed keystrokes. Falsifying information in documents with intent to sabotage is an age old and highly effective trick in the book; no measure is too extreme to prevent this blow. When there are proper measures in place to ensure that every entry can be tracked back, it keeps everyone on high alert. We don’t doubt the co-authors, but an unauthorized entry can be traced much more easily when you know from where the entry has been made.
Now to the How
There have been very many methods tried, tested and discarded in the pursuit of finding one that makes the process of tracking the authors of changes and additions in the document easy and foolproof.
From Red-line to XaitPorter
One of the earliest methods was ‘red-lining’, where changes were marked on a paper document with a red pen and ruler. Any change made or information added would be marked with the initials or manual signature of the author of the change. Then there were redlining software, which would enable users to do the same thing on an electronic document. Though these software did provide great functionality in drafting and editing legal documents, the results were not always satisfactory.
In time, Microsoft Office added the “Track Changes” feature to its applications, thus revolutionizing the collaboration technology and taking it to a whole new level. This feature soon became the most commonly used tool for tracking changes and revisions made to the document. However, from a legal point of view, this was not enough. How easy is it to change the initials on a Word document?
Home>Word Options>Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office>Change initials.
Definitely not ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’
XaitPorter allows you (or an administrative user) to restrict access to sections of the document; this way only authorized personnel will be able to access, view, and make changes to that portion. XaitPorter has a Version Control System that tracks every change made to the document. The information tracked includes changes, the user who made the change, the time at which the change was made and so on. Each user has a unique login to the system and changes made by that user are automatically recorded and can be tracked back to him, now you know who said what, and when.