June 26, 2019

Top Five Contract Playbook Formats

Written by
Henal Patel

A contract playbook is important for setting guidelines that your whole company or firm can follow during contract negotiations. There isn’t just one way to create a playbook, but there's a better way. The most common platforms to build a playbook are MS Word, MS Excel, MS OneNote, MS SharePoint, and a notepad. Here’s a rundown of how each of these platforms work for creating, sharing, and accessing your contract playbook.

How to format a contract playbook

1. Word / Google Docs

Microsoft Word is a common choice for creating a playbook. As a reference, download a research backed and peer reviewed contract playbook template here. It has several features that are conducive for contract negotiations. Native in Word, track changes makes it easy to get input from several people as you build your playbook, and you can easily monitor what’s been changed, deleted, altered, or added.

With Word based playbooks, the screen real estate is limited, but you have more flexibility to add long clauses.  Columns will be a problem too, so you’ll see playbooks defined in legal size format. Finally, you'll be extremely limited in other ways - limited position guidance, column structure, etc.

Once it’s finalized, you can easily save the Word playbook as a contract playbook pdf and send it out to everyone on your team.  This is an easy, lightweight solution.

2. Excel

Microsoft Excel gives you a very detailed way to layout unlimited columns and concepts for more complex playbooks.

But, Excel has some limitations when it comes to creating a playbook. It’s harder to track edits, so you could end up with several copies at different stages of editing, which can make it confusing to determine what should and should not be in the playbook. In addition, the format of Excel makes it harder to layer in complex clauses because there’s typically a limit on how much text you can input into a cell - a key reason why Word has an edge over Excel.

3. OneNote

OneNote is convenient if you’re working on a project and want to be able to easily access it from any device and add other media. You can also use Microsoft OneNote to collaborate with other people on your playbook. It’s more advanced than Microsoft Word, and you can create tabs, notebooks, bulleted lists, audio recordings, snippets, and more. But these features are complex, and there’s a major learning curve when teams switch to OneNote.

If you start working on your playbook in OneNote and your team is not trained in OneNote, it’s a good idea to download it to Word for final edits. From there, you can convert it to a contract playbook pdf and share it with your team.

4. SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is a decent tool for collaborating, which makes it a good place to store your playbook, especially when it’s still being drafted. You can also create a “list” in SharePoint and define various columns, similar to Excel. One advantage of SharePoint is that you can leverage workflow and other communication tools. Also, other employees can access the document in a web interface more easily - everyone who’s working on the playbook can access it through SharePoint and provide feedback and comments. Once your playbook is finalized, upload the pdf playbook to SharePoint to make it easy for everyone who needs it to access it on demand.

Unfortunately, again, your screen real estate is limited, and you'll reach a quick ceiling. To amplify the problem further, it's difficult to migrate from SharePoint once your data is setup, it's tough to create and manage a clause library, there's a lot of clicking, and there's no integration into the review and negotiation process.

5. Legal Pad

Of course, nothing beats good old pen and paper when it comes to jotting down ideas. If you’re a fan of pen and paper, then you can use them to put together a playbook. But when you’re ready to share it with the rest of the team, or you just want to make sure you don’t lose it, then we still recommend inputting it into digital space and downloading it as a contract playbook pdf.

A Better Way - Specialized Apps

While these are common ways of creating a playbook, they all have limitations.Primarily, these formats do not fold into the review process, automatically issue spot, or perform analysis for you – you have to have your contract printed on your desk or on another monitor, and these prose style playbooks don't automate issue spotting and analysis. Second, keeping these formats up to date is a major challenge across most organizations. To learn more, check out how DocJuris' contract review software can help your organization.

Written by
Henal Patel

Henal is a native Houstonian and the CEO of DocJuris. Before founding DocJuris, he worked as a senior in-house lawyer and legal ops specialist for over fifteen years.

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