Maarten Truyens Updated by Maarten Truyens

Everything starts with highlighting

When automating full documents in ClauseBuddy, you start from an existing document in Microsoft Word. In this document, you highlight specific words in cyan (= light blue), in order to:

  • Create placeholders: replace such words by the answer to a particular question;
  • Create conditions: subject paragraphs or snippets of text to a condition.

Note the subtractive nature of the workflow: you start from a template that contains all possible paragraphs and snippets, and then remove them, or replace them with alternatives.

Cards, questions and predefined answers

Once relevant parts of your template are highlighted, you upload that document to ClauseBuddy and formulate a set of questions. When those questions are completed by the end-user, ClauseBuddy will replace (or remove) the highlighted sections.

Questions can optionally host predefined answers. For example, for a question that would ask for the product being ordered, you may want to create predefined answers for each of the product lines of your company.

Large or complex templates can easily involve twenty or more questions. To increase the ease-of-use towards end-users, you can group questions in to cards. Cards can have their own title, color and indentation.

Cards, questions and predefined answers can be subject to conditions. For example, when a contract optionally contains a non-compete obligation, you may want to create a separate card containing questions regarding the details of that obligation (e.g., duration, geographical coverage, industry sectors, etc). Preferably, that separate card will be subject to a condition, so that it will only be shown when the end-user has indicated in a preceding question that the non-compete obligation effectively applies.

Documents and templates

Templates consist of a combination of a DOCX document and a set of cards/questions/predefined answers.

Documents are always based on a template, and store the answers to the questions contained in the template.

When you open a document, ClauseBuddy will fetch the latest version of the associated template and apply the answers to that template's contents.

Dynamic approach

Note that documents are deliberately dynamic, because they only store the answers and do not store the actual contents of the template.

For example, assume you would create a template in January, store a document in February, and simultaneously correct a typo and add a new clause to the template in March. If you would then open the old document, it will show the corrected text (without the typo), as well as the new clause that was added back in March, even though the document was stored in February.

This dynamic approach is almost always exactly what you want, because the underlying text of the document will always be up-to-date. However, this also implies that ClauseBuddy must not be treated as a contract archive — imagine how embarrassing it would be when you would impose new pricing on a customer due to some intermediate changes in your template!

You should use a dedicated contract archiving solution (or alternatively Dropbox, Sharepoint or any other storage solution) to store final versions of contracts. ClauseBuddy's dynamic nature is enormously powerful, but obviously prevents it from being used as a static archive.

How did we do?

Highlighting Word documents