Template and clause management
Anyone who works in a company has probably heard this question: “Is there a template for this document?” or “Where can I find these documents?” and “Which clauses actually belong in this contract?”.
In everyday work, efficiency is an important factor. Very few employees have the time and leisure to spend hours searching for documents or to create frequently needed documents over and over again. As a solution to this problem, the so-called template and clause management, has become increasingly popular in recent years.
In this article, we have broken down what exactly clauses and templates are, why template and clause management is useful, and which type of management is most convincing in terms of its efficiency.
What is a template?
A template is a type of sample file, or “blueprint”, used to create parts of documents or entire documents. The template provides a basic framework that determines the visual design (e.g. layout) and content (e.g. selectable text modules) of a document, ensuring a consistent result. Adding further information and missing data to a template will produce the complete document.
With the help of a template, documents can be created easier and faster. However, it is important that the document template itself always remains unchanged to serve as a basis for further documents. Changes or additions must always be made in the respective work file. Document templates are usually created in programs such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word and can be used, for example, for simple business letters, PowerPoint presentations, monthly reports and forecasts, but also for complex business processes such as contract management.
Note: Document templates can only be applied to documents of the same type. Employment contracts differ significantly from other contracts, such as leases or service contracts. Accordingly, the templates for these contracts have to be designed differently, too.
The company ABC Solutions AG would like to employ the applicant Sandra Müller as a new employee as of 1 January. In order to do so, a written contract of employment needs to be drawn up first. To simplify matters, the HR department of ABC Solutions AG has created a template for new employment contracts. Thanks to the template, the responsible HR administrator only has to enter data such as Sandra Müller’s name, salary and future position and save it as a work file, for example as “Employment contract Sandra Müller”. The contract template remains unchanged and can be used for the next new employee. So you have a copy of the template filled with individual information.
What are clauses?
Clauses are individual provisions and conditions contained in a set of rules that serve a legal purpose. In this context, clauses are mainly used in contracts and legal agreements, which is why they are generally referred to as contractual clauses. A contract clause is a written part of a contract that is designed to remove any ambiguity in the contract. For example, it may describe a specific requirement or service, a right, a privilege or a time limit.
There are many different types of clause, depending on the type and content of the contract. The most common are general terms and conditions, limitation of liability and confidentiality clauses, which prohibit the parties from discussing the content of the contract. Severability clauses are also often found at the end of a contract, for example in employment contracts. Because these clauses are legal texts, they are sometimes difficult for laypeople to understand and often have a negative connotation, as failure to comply with them can have adverse legal consequences.
For certain types of contract, there are statutory clauses. In the case of employment contracts, these include the place of work and the start of the employment relationship. On the other hand, contracts often contain clauses that are inadmissible and therefore invalid. An example of this is the widespread clause in employment contracts that overtime work is to be compensated by the salary. This clause violates Section 3 of the Working Time Act and Section 612 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch – BGB) in the case of full-time employment contracts and is therefore invalid.
How is template and clause management defined?
Templates and clauses are important tools for legally compliant and efficient business processes. However, there are a variety of ways to store, use and retrieve templates and clauses today. These range from analogue paper documents where information is entered by hand, to Excel spreadsheets, to intelligent AI-powered systems.
Yet, templates and clauses are often not managed together. Many companies opt for only one sub-component, either template or clause management. In this case, the level of management is often flat, not comprehensive and limited, for example, to handling simple Office Word files stored in folders.
If, on the other hand, templates and clauses are maintained and managed together with the support of software, for example in intelligent document management systems, we speak of true template and clause management. In this case, clauses and templates are managed systematically with the help of software. There are enormous benefits to be gained from this, but they depend on the way in which the templates and clauses are managed.
What are the benefits of template and clause management?
The use of software for template and clause management can have significant benefits for businesses. Probably the most important factor for companies is always the efficient use of their own resources: money, time, manpower, etc. For example, using templates in day-to-day work can save a lot of time, as documents can be created and edited with just a few clicks and actions. Clause management, which is integrated into the contract creation process, makes it possible to select or deselect the clauses required for each contract with a single click. This standardises documents and avoids duplication and errors.
Another benefit of template and clause management is that pre-defined templates create a consistent corporate identity, as the design and layout of the templates do not differ. Costly training for other employees is also virtually eliminated. Using a cloud solution brings further advantages. With a cloud-based solution, documents, contracts, clauses and templates are available to everyone, anytime, anywhere. All in all, an effective management of templates and clauses leads to more order, more clarity and a better overall structure of the existing documents.
Solutions for template and clause management
Just as there are many variants of template and clause management, there are also many vendors offering this service. However, instead of investing exclusively in systems that are limited to template and clause management, it can make sense to link different business areas within the company. For example, why not link contracts, invoices, cover letters or delivery notes to templates and clauses?
With our solutions Shareflex Contract, Shareflex Invoice, Shareflex Quality Documents and Shareflex Documents, we at Portal Systems have created the possibility to transfer information from the respective solutions into Office Word templates. In addition, individual information such as business partner, address, name, start of contract, etc. from various systems such as ERP or contract management, etc. can be inserted into the template. Contract clauses can also be easily selected or deselected. As soon as the template is saved as a working file, the document is visible again in the Shareflex solution, filled with the individual data.
The advantage of our solutions for contract management, incoming invoice processing, QM / document control and document management is that they are based on Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online and are therefore both (revision) secure and versioned. This means that you always have an overview of your documents and can increase the efficiency of your daily work. If you would like to know more about us and our solutions, please contact us. We can help you find the right solutions to support and drive your business digitally.
Hamburg, January 25, 2023
Author: Sara Glöckner
Please feel free to share this article: