Why Microsoft Word Sucks for Contract Negotiation

By Chris Combs

In this two part series we will be reviewing some of the common problems teams have when they use Microsoft Word to negotiate important contracts and agreements for their company.  Here are a few of the major issues:

1. Track Changes – If you’ve negotiated a contract in Word, this is the main feature you use.  You also know once the feature grows beyond a few revisions over a few pages it can be nearly incomprehensible to understand. Changes layered over other changes with no order can become very difficult to manage.

Security is another issue with the ‘track changes’ feature. Because the parties involved are simply working in an editable Word document and there is no audit trail of changes. A party can make major changes to the contract without anyone knowing. For example, a sales prospect could delete a important term from the contract without notifying the sales rep and because it was untracked, the sales operations team missed it as well. Now the company has agreed to a incorrect contract because Word doesn’t have any security features.

How LinkSquares helps: LinkSquares tracks all changes in a secure environment. All changes and revisions are organized in a right panel for easy review. Also, 3rd parties can only request changes to a contract, they cant update anything without the senders consent.

2. Formatting – We’ve all been there before, you create and share an agreement only to find the formatting was destroyed somewhere between emailing and opening the document. Numbered sections, bullets, etc are constantly being corrupted during this process. References that people make in comments to a specific section can be destroyed easily if someone adds a new section or deletes an old one.

Using email to send a document back and fourth creates a lot of these problems. As they get opened by multiple parties, sometimes with other programs like Open Office, things get changed and lost resulting in problems trying to execute an accurate contract. What is the company you are working with doesn’t use Word? Good luck working with them.

How LinkSquares helps: Instead of sending an attachment back and fourth via email, LinkSquare uses a unique document link that all parties access via permission based settings. This removes the possibility of formatting errors and problems because everyone works from the same document.

3. Crashes – So lets say you’ve been able to navigate the issues with track changes and formatting, there is still one issue you can’t prevent: Microsoft Word crashing and losing all your work. If this crash occurs while you are editing a document, Microsoft’s best effort is to perform a ‘document recovery’. This only works part of the time and could mean hours of re-work if you didn’t save.

How LinkSquares helps: Because its a web based application, there aren’t any issues with crashes. In addition the LinkSquares application auto-saves work so you don’t have to risk losing any of it. 

Formatting issues, crashes, and lost work was enough for me to stop using Microsoft Word all together. At LinkSquares, we finally had enough and decided there had to be a better way. So we built a tool to send, track, and sign business documents online in a fast, secure, professional way.

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