Harnessing the Power of Data to Make Better Business Decisions

If there is anything the pandemic has taught us, it is that corporations are increasingly relying on data. 82% of data-driven companies believed they stayed ahead of the competition during the pandemic due to their use of data to make effective decisions. Additionally in Q2 of 2021, 61% of CEOs have reported they are making significant investments into data and technology. These significant strides for incorporating data within business strategy brings about three advantages which we shall outline below.

Stronger Business Decisions

Businesses must always face the element of risk but by tracking the performances of previous projects using data and analytics, the gap can be shortened. Advanced Analytics, AI and Machine Learning can assist us in making well-informed decisions which shaves off hidden costs. For example by implementing the algorithm known as the UPS’ ORION program, UPS combatted various inefficiencies in single-package deliveries which allowed the company to save $400 million per year in gas and labor by fall 2016. Not only did they become more sustainable, but they were able to reduce spendings through the data collected during the deliveries alongside testing algorithms to make their service more efficient.

By using data to make better informed business decisions, companies will move closer towards their goals. While a leader with good instincts and a wealth of experience is still necessary, the power of one mind cannot match the benefits of data-driven results. Data-driven companies within the top third of their industry were on average, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors. On the complete opposite end, 90% of startups and small businesses fail with the failure rate starting at 21.5% in their first year and landing on 70% by the tenth year. This stemmed from the failure to use data to narrow their target audience alongside a lack of research on what their customers want which ultimately, made them ill-prepared for the market. So whether you are part of a large enterprise or a small business, utilising data in the business strategy not only sets you on track for achieving your goals, but also ensures you can navigate any risks with confidence. 

Enhanced Customer Experiences

In the technology era, people are tapped in all the time on their phones, tablets, computers and so on. This has become increasingly apparent with remote working under restrictions such as social distancing and in some cases, lockdowns, where going to a physical store can prove to be difficult. So with more people turning to their digital devices to do their daily or weekly purchases, there is a greater wealth of data which can be analysed to meet the needs of their customers.

Every click, every double-tap and review is a sign of engagement. It was estimated that by 2020, every person generated 1.7 megabytes of data per second which is only a little over the average size of a high quality jpeg photo. When you add on more time, you start having a lot of customer data to work with, wouldn’t you agree? Customers can leave reviews, signalling to others what to avoid and perhaps encourage others to buy a particular product. With this, data analysts and web designers can gauge customer feedback based on clicks, reviews and the duration spent on a page to best optimise online services for their customers. While this may appear trivial, it’s certainly not the case as 80% of customers say they are more likely to buy from those who listen and act on their feedback. Doing so makes the transaction process for customers, whether they be B2B or B2C, seamless during each step of the way while making quicker returns for companies.

A Data-Literate Workspace

Hybrid-working conditions are becoming more prominent which has given rise to technologies such as video-conferencing software and a plethora of collaboration tools and remote learning programs. While the hybrid work model has increased productivity with 83% of employees preferring the hybrid-working model, the management of data is not as flexible. 

First of all, data gets siloed in an organisation which makes information not easily accessible to all departments. So while the access to work and employees is becoming more dynamic, data management is not. The problem this brings is that the data literacy within an organisation becomes unbalanced which undermines the effectiveness and competitiveness of a business. 

This has affected the contracting process where in 2021, 34% of companies struggle to hire contracting talent with the right technology and process management skills to extract, compare and analyse data from contracts. More broadly, the 2020 report from The Data Literacy Project found only 21% of the global workforce are fully confident in their data literacy skills with only 32% of business executives being able to create measurable value from data. With this, the increasing access to technology and data is strangely disproportionate to the ability to interpret, understand and work with data. 

So as our working circumstances have evolved to become more flexible, the ability to effectively use data must advance with it. As the International Data Corporation has forecasted a 61% increase in worldwide data by 2025, there is clearly a need for the global workforce to upskill their current proficiency with data within at least the next four years.

Conclusion

While the exact outcome of the pandemic remains uncertain, the rising reliance on data and technology is clear. Companies are recognising the need for data in business to make better informed decisions alongside building and maintaining a loyal customer base. However, the data literacy of employees, irrespective of their position, has not matched the increasing need to make workable actions from data. It’s no wonder businesses like PwC are spending $3 billion on technology and training over the next four years. So like the hybrid-work model is preventing the spread of Covid-19, accessible and comprehensive data is key to stopping companies from being eliminated by their data-enhanced competitors. So, migrate from inflexible data environments into a fully-customisable one with Unwynd to match your current working conditions and needs.

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3 Advantages of Document Automation

Technical documentation on average, takes 1 hour/page for writing, 30 minutes/page for reviewing, 2.5 hours for editing/page and a further 25 minutes/page for proofreading. You add that all together, that’s 4 hours and 25 minutes for a thorough review of a single page. All documentation which contains technical knowledge such as contracts and other business documents follow the same organisational approach: using headers to sign-post the details of the content. As noted, this takes up lots of time per page. Document Automation as the name implies, takes data and text various sources and incorporates them into pre-defined document templates. This brings 3 major benefits for business. So down below, we shall outline what these benefits are and why they increase productivity and efficiency in profitable projects.

1)   Faster Document Generation

This is the most obvious benefit, with lawyers stating 82% of time savings stem from document automation. By creating templates through automation, you can input the text and data you want the documents to contain into standardized templates. Additionally, it reduces the time reviewing a draft and ensures all members in a project can access the template before it’s produced, rather than waiting for a complete written draft. This keeps communication in real time, ensuring errors and suggestions are addressed clearly at the beginning for producing a document. Thus, collaboration between departments becomes streamlined and more efficient. 

2)   Compliance and a Unified Understanding 

With better collaboration stemming from faster document generation, this ensures that all documents are compliant with laws and regulations. This is because it reduces human error in the drafting process where the writing of a drafter may be difficult to comprehend as we’ve mentioned in our previous article on contract complexity. In this, document automation removes the guesswork of ensuring documents are accurate and intuitive to read as the automation system does this for you. This keeps everyone on the same page not only with legal rulings, but also ensuring the correct definitions do not get lost to differences in interpretation. 

3)   Retention of Knowledge and Expertise

With documents that get produced quickly and with assurance of compliance, this ensures all members to a project both old and incoming are updated on day one. By keeping to a consistent template rather than documents which have been drafted by different people, it keeps the documentation uniform. This allows members to build up familiarity with the style and format which ensures they pick up information quicker. It is a well-known fact that humans are creatures of habit, so let’s play to those strengths. This also applies even if a skilled member leaves the project momentarily or completely as the templates provide a continuous bank of expertise to ensure assignments are completed with minimal delay. This is a huge saver as 40% of productivity gets lost to task-switching.

Conclusion

Document automation saves time that is wasted creating, reviewing, redrafting, and proof-reading documents. This reduction in production times also gives more time to collaboration which ensures the needs of clients are flagged up and implemented before the first template. Another problem document automation resolves are incomprehensible documents which can occur due to writing styles. This is because document automation keeps templates standardized, allowing project members to familiarize themselves with the format to the point the reviewing and understanding the data becomes intuitive. This allows everyone in a project to fully understand the assignment each step of the way, regardless of whether they are an attorney or a businessperson.

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The Hidden Costs of Contract Complexity

In 2019, the GDP of the world was $87.5 trillion. This is the result of millions, if not billions, of transactions for the purchase and sale of goods and services, with each transaction regulated by some form of contract. Even with minor improvements to our horribly inefficient contracting process, the global GDP in 2019 would have surpassed $90 Trillion.

It’s about time we have access to an extra $2.5 trillion. Luckily, lawyers and other allied legal professionals can make this happen. However, to get there, we have willingly rethink and simplify contracts, since they are the basic building block of all commercial activity.

We’ll be organising articles into two parts. The first begins at Value Leakage by looking at the areas where this occurs most acutely: 

a)     When the contract is formed.

b)    Post-execution contract management.

Then, we’ll look at the key catalyst which causes these problems to happen: Contract Complexity. Finally, we’ll finish by exploring tools to help us get back that $2.5 trillion and more.

1)     Contracting and Value Leakage

A. Contract Formation Losses

When parties start to discuss the possibility of a deal and it ends when a contract is signed or accepted is called the contraction formation phase.

These are the three losses which occur:

1. Transaction costs

The costs of finalising a contract varies vastly. B2C transactions at their most efficient, have zero contraction costs in an app store or on an online checkout service. B2B contracts are a different story. Top performers spend $49,000 on a complex contract while others will spend more than $100,000 per contract.

By democratizing the contract costs enjoyed by the top performers of today would reduce the economic loss by at least $3 Billion per million impacted transactions.

2. Cycle times

Transaction cycles are as varied as transaction costs. B2C transactions often take seconds – think of the time it takes for you to install an app on your phone for example. However, B2B transactions commonly take weeks, or even months. For example, most companies take on average, 21.5 days for a transaction while top performers spend 11.5 days.

The link between negotiation cycle times and cost are clear. Bringing cycle times to the same level enjoyed by today’s top performers adds roughly 10 extra days of economic activity per year under these contracts. With the global daily GDP being roughly $250 Billion, you can imagine the significant impact the time saved would have.

3. Abandoning Transactions

It’s not easy to complete a transaction. At the bare minimum, parties must agree on product fit, delivery schedules, pricing, etc. Hurdles such as agreeing on contract terms increases the likeliness a buyer will give up on a transaction. 

One recent study showed, “57% of B2B buyers did not complete a purchase for their companies because the vendor checkout process took too long.” With the average B2B contract requiring over ten days to complete, it is clear contracting is one of the largest catalysts of abandonment-inducing delay.

Streamlining the contracting process by even one-tenth of the current rate would raise the global GDP by as much as 1%, translating to over half a trillion dollars.

Together, the three types of losses during the contract formation stage are staggering.

B. Losses Post-Execution

If you thought the contract formation leakages were staggering, wait until you see the value leakage once the contract has been signed. Studies consistently show the average company suffers equal to almost 10% of revenues in annual contract value leakage.

This comes from the result of non-compliant goods or services, billing errors, etc. Including consequential losses (e.g. lost sales due to an inability to perform, etc.) raises the value leakage numbers drastically. 

While the formation and post-execution phases differ in nature, they share the same problem of contract complexity which we shall delve into down below.

The remainder of this post explores the impact of contract complexity and steps that can be taken to drive improvement through simplification.

II. Contract Complexity

There’s a reason we scroll to the “I accept” button without double-checking during consumer purchases. Trying to waft through multiple pages of legalese and numerous embedded policies, secondary agreements, etc. is overwhelming. Luckily for these sorts of transactions, the risks of blind acceptance are often miniscule. 

A. B2B contracting

The complexity is magnified in the B2B space. The dollar amounts at stake are significant, requiring businesses to conduct meaningful assessment of risk. This makes the resulting contract analysis and negotiations lengthy which are made more complex by the contracts lawyers make and only they can understand. 

As mentioned earlier, the more complex the contract, the longer the negotiation cycle times. Worse still, the likelihood each party will draw a different conclusion due to personal interpretation is proportionate to the complexity of individual contract provisions increases.

The presence of complex legal provisions shifts the focus away from the business issues that ultimately determine the value of a contract. Members of WorldCC (World Commerce & Contracting) observed the reduced focus on business issues during contract negotiations disengages key businesses leads at the contract formation stage, leading to significant value leakage during post-execution. Therefore, it’s not surprising that sub-optimal delivery occurs when the businesspeople in charge for performing under a contract don’t understand the key provisions in a contract properly. 

B. Types of Contract Complexity

There are two characteristics which contribute to contract complexity:

a)     Qualitive Complexity

b)    Quantitative Complexity

We most focus on these areas to simply contracts effectively.

1. Qualitative Complexity

To put it plainly, qualitative complexity is when a contract is drafted in a way which is hard to understand. The key point here is not what a seasoned lawyer may find intuitive, but what the average businessperson who is going to negotiate the business transaction and/or managing the contract post-execution understands.

Unfortunately, many contracts fail at this hurdle for several reasons:

a.     The contract fails to address the crux in the formation of the business relationship, forcing parties to rely on sources beyond the contract to make sense of what they are trying to achieve. It is generally agreed amongst economists that the more complete a contract, the higher the economic performance it shall generate. This problem can be difficult to resolve since contracting parties can’t foresee every eventuality in a prospective relationship, particularly those of a long duration and/or an expansive scope.

b.     Clauses within contracts can be drafted in an ambiguous manner, making them impossible for even seasoned attorneys to interpret definitively. TermScout recently reviewed 327 standard, click-accept agreements used by a wide range of IT vendors and found that roughly 25% failed to achieve high levels of clarity. It’s a staggering number given the agreements reviewed were all based on standard contract contracts which get used hundred, if not thousands of times. On top of that, they were drafted without time limits and can justify an enormous investment of legal resources to ensure they are primed for use. Negotiated agreements (one-offs created under extreme time pressures), suffer substantially higher levels of ambiguity.

c.     Finally, even if a contract addresses a point that is clear to a highly skilled attorney, it may do so using legalese that is at best partially intelligible to the businessperson who is responsible for the business deal or managing the contract post-execution. Increasingly organizations are making efforts to write their contracts in plain English, but these contracts often are still insufficiently user-centered and difficult for non-lawyers to understand.

In October 2020, the WorldCC conducted a survey of over 475 organisations which showed the uncertainty about the meaning of key provisions is the biggest threat to realizing a contract value. The root of this uncertainty is a lack of clarity which comes from the aforementioned factors. 

2. Quantitative complexity

Quantitatively complex contracts are when its length, including all referenced or nested documents, exceeds what a user can efficiently process.

A great example is the AWS Customer Agreement which, at first sight, is approximately 14 pages in length. This may not be bad for page count, until the reader discovers 14 different sets of nested or referenced terms. One of these sets of nested terms alone, the Amazon Service Terms, has 82 different clauses that are augmented by other sets of referenced terms. One nest leads to dozens which coupled with the difficulty of locating them all into a coherent body is a colossal task for the reader.

This type of structure and volume of contract terms is not unique to Amazon. Companies, particularly large ones, have extremely diverse product lines and logically, want to use one agreement to cover as much business as possible. In many cases, this converges with the needs and wants of consumers. After all, who would want to renegotiate terms every time they do business with a supplier?

C. How to Address Contract Complexity?

There is no one-for-all antidote for addressing contract complexity. However, there are at least three things we can do to make meaningful improvements to contracting processes.

There are multiple contract review services such as KnowableContract Standards, and TermScout. These services mitigate the challenge of assembling and analyzing contracts for companies.

Most of this analysis, however, focuses on the legal terms in the agreement, and not the business terms. Despite this, these assist with the complex contracts in multiple ways.

First, they relieve the companies of the burden of assembling the data set—at least where standard contracts are involved, alongside the trouble of analyzing that data. They also can translate legalese into plain English. 

Second, they can provide better transparency into issues with a vendor’s contract, by highlighting unclear drafting, unfavorable provisions, noticeable gaps, etc. This transparency will help drive standardization within vendor agreements which, as discussed below, stands to significantly resolve the complexity problem.

1. Standards

Contracts are complex since the business relationships they cover are multifaceted and may be wide-reaching and/or of long duration. Covering the nuances of such, especially as it evolves over time, is challenging. Doing so in a small number of pages, in terms that everyone can understand, is a colossal task.

Using standards for contracting, however, can make this challenge more manageable in at least several very significant ways.

a)     Independent standards administered by a trusted third party evolve naturally over time, reducing the need for the parties to foresee the future and address all possible contingencies themselves.

b)    Standards used on a repeated basis become familiar to people in the relevant industry. This makes them easy for those administering a contract to understand and work under. When a standard attains sufficient adoption, companies can align their business systems and practices to it.

c)     Incorporating standards by reference shortens contracts and significantly reduce negotiation times without compromising breadth. This is like how nested terms work today, but unlike tailored nested terms drafted by parties with vested interests, independent standards come with a level of trust and consistency that can make the process easier on all parties.

D. Sources for Standards

While the use of different types of standards could have a very positive impact on contracts, all the required standards do not exist yet. Some of the potentially more promising areas for further development are as such:

D1. Laws

A significant proportion of contract complexity stems from differing laws and regulations across jurisdictions. For example, roughly one-third of the 14 sets of nested terms in the AWS Customer Agreement referenced come form, in part, differences in laws.

While expecting a single global set of laws which regulate all aspects of commerce is unrealistic, examples that exist show that some enhancements may be possible.

For example, the EU uses the GDPR and other laws and regulations to standardize at least certain governing rules across its members. Various countries have come together to adopt conventions relating to various aspects of commerce. The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, routinely get disclaimed and are of relatively limited impact as an example. Others, such as the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (aka The New York Convention), get used quite broadly. Theoretically, it is possible additional conventions could get adopted across jurisdictions, reducing international business complexity.

The U.S. has great potential for further amalgamation of standards. As of now, the U.S. federal government has shown little inclination to exercise its authority over interstate commerce to set out a single set of regulations, even in such areas as telecommunications where the benefits of creating a single federal framework are indisputable by logic. This, however, doesn’t disregard the authority exists and could be used more.

D2. Policies/agreements

Building upon the greater standardization of laws, room exists for standardization of the policies and agreements mandated by various laws such as HIPAA and the GDPR.

These could be administered by independent third parties to assist up-take. For example, WorldCC developed a set of balanced contracting principles which can apply to a multitude of contract types. The economic benefits of using standard contracts within industries are significant. In many cases, industries have proactively driven this transition on their own, e.g., residential home sales, ISDA agreements, etc. These cases involve high volumes of repeatable transactions, parties having similar levels of bargaining power, and/or strong time pressures for conducting the agreement. Where these pressures are not present, inertia and the set ways of buyers and sellers impede this shift.

D3. Operating practices

Contracts layout the ground rules a party will follow in a particular area, with data security as a prime example. Data holders have plenty of obligations (under contract, regulation, and/or common law) to ensure their vendors protect a gamut of information. The appropriate measures for protection continuously transform as hackers become increasingly skilled.

To an extent, vendors have attempted to standardize their approach to data protection by agreeing to submit to periodic audits conducted by third parties and some defined standard (e.g., System and Organization Control (SOC) audits). More room exists for these standards and audits to become more prevalent.

2. Contract Terms and Structure

Contracts in their many forms are business tools which define what parties plan to do together. They are ultimately about communication and to do this, should be written as plainly as possible to be comprehensible for all stakeholders. The likelihood increases when contracts standardize the terms and structures, they employ in comparison to being largely bespoke documents. Several groups, including the WorldCC have made advances in developing standard contract terms and structures which are both balanced and intuitive. 

This is not to diminish the commendable work lawyers put in to construct a contract since their contributions are critical for assessing and quantifying risk. On top of that, they ensure contracts are enforceable. Rather, we suggest lawyers can become better business partners by recognising the costs of complexity their contract drafting creates and placing greater emphasis on creating business-friendly agreements.

User research conducted by WorldCC reveals plainer, more user-centered contracts reduce sales and negotiation cycles, sometimes by as much as 50%. This research further highlights contract users have a stronger opinion towards companies with contracts that are understandable and easy to navigate. These benefits branding recognition and generates greater collaboration among internal and external stakeholders. The combination of these factors have a noteworthy impact on the value companies obtain from their contracts.

3. Tools

Naturally, this doesn’t quite resolve the use of nested terms which means contract users need a quicker way to access information without triggering multiple windows. To do this, companies need more flexibility in their data structures. With this at the fore, Unwynd.io provides a fully customisable setting to edit, create and organise information to the requirements of every user whether as an individual or a corporate business. Through a feature called syntax highlighting, users can associate each color with a specific group of key terms to allow readers to intuitively understand the clauses references within a sentence and its source at a first glance. For greater clarity, these can be paired with special meanings based on certain grammatical rules which helps cross-reference information between one or more documents.

Unwynd.io also assists whenever a clause or a term needs to be updated through its version control system. As discussed in a previous article, Git provides a full edit history which means every update in a project is tracked. This allows for greater standardisation as a full copy of a contract can be accessed and updated by parties connected to a project as they see fit. This keeps contracts compliant to rulings while ensuring the agreed terms evolve with the project. All information required thus comes together into a dedicated project environment which interconnects documentation into one place for those who need to access the contract. 

Conclusion

The world’s economy and its participants suffer from inefficiencies in the contracting process. Most of this inefficiency stems from the qualitative and quantitative complexity of contracts. While simplifying contracts cannot happen overnight, new tools are being developed which can allow companies to start making significant process. As this happens, we should expect to see gains in both the contract formation process and in post-execution contract management.

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5 EDITING TOOLS SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS USE… AND SO CAN YOU

Software developers routinely handle large volumes of complex, heavily structured files filled with intricate syntaxes and little margin for error.

Does this sound like your own line of work…?

Here are some of the most common techniques developers use to streamline their workflow and how you can incorporate them when dealing with richly formatted, plain natural language.

  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Brace Matching
  • Predictive Typing / Auto-Complete
  • Dynamic Version Control (Git/GitHub)

Integrated Development environment (IDE)

Software engineers and web developers customarily use what is referred to as an integrated development environment or “IDE”. As the name suggests, those platforms offer an integrated workspace for developers to edit, debug, compile or interpret source codes.

But the key takeaway for our own purposes is the ability to operate multiple files simultaneously within the same project environment. This means users can declare a dedicated “project” folder and effortlessly import, use, or refer to sections of text which were used in other text files pertaining to the same project.

This is known as the “DRY” principle (as in “don’t repeat yourself!”) which aims at reducing repetition of software patterns and replacing it with abstractions to avoid redundancy.

This allows for surgical precision when it comes to referencing certain variables or concepts defined in other sections without having to replicate definition sources.

This can also come in particularly handy in document-intensive industries, such as large-scale construction, infrastructure, healthcare, and banking which comprise of massive volumes of documents defining complex legal, financial, and technical mechanisms all relating to the same project.

In complex legal transactions, it is not uncommon to have few 100s references to other concepts in only few lines of text! And spread across multiple text files relating to the same subject matter. Applying the DRY concept would substantially reduce the risk for errors, which would not be a bad idea when dealing with language naturally designed to reflect certainty and predictability.

Syntax highlighting

Color-coded syntax highlighting is used by programmers to display source code in different colors, each associated with a unique meaning . This feature facilitates reading and writing in a structured language… one that is not open to interpretation.

Sounds like your own professional syntax?

Syntax highlighting makes both structures and syntax errors visually distinct and content becomes easier to read and understand. Highlighting does not affect the meaning of the text itself; it is intended only for the human eye, which proves to be effective when applied to other business (and social) languages just as well.

Syntax highlighting improves the readability and context of the text; especially for structured content that spans several pages. The reader can easily ignore large sections of comments, code or text and find errors only by skimming through pages.

Most IDEs, for example, highlight certain data types in pre-defined colors. Consequently, spotting a missing separator becomes much easier because of the contrasting color of the text.

Research shows that syntax highlighting significantly reduces the time taken for a programmer to internalize the semantics of a program, enabling them to pay less attention to standard syntactic components such as keywords.

Using unwynd, you can use syntax highlighting with plain natural language by either configuring your own syntax or using the default modes based on your own preferences.

Brace Matching

Brace matching (or bracket matching) is another important feature used predominantly among developers. This makes it simple to see if a brace has been left out or to locate the matching brace based on location of the cursor, sometimes by highlighting the pair in a different color.

The purpose is to help the writer or reader navigate through the written content and spot any improper matching, which would cause ambiguity or conflicts of language in heavily structured text documents (such as corporate and legal documentation).

This sounds trivial, but lawyers can sometimes spend years in costly litigation arguing about the parties’ intention in light of omitted brackets.

Predictive typing / Auto-complete

Predictive typing or sometimes referred to as “auto-complete” is an input technology used where one key or a set of keys are associated with certain pre-configured rules or concepts. Each key press results in a prediction or terms or sentences.

Auto-complete could allow for an entire word to be input by single keypress making the whole typing experience more efficient and, inevitably, more cost-effective. It makes efficient use of fewer device keys to input writing any types of files.

This can also considerably reduce the margin of errors when referring to previously defined concepts. To reduce drafting ambiguities, it is important to refer to defined concept with the precise concept that has been associated with the definition.

Predictive typing can play a key role in ensuring that defined terms, concepts, or other time/cost-sensitive concepts are used in the appropriate manner. Click here to learn more about what predictive typing can do for you.

Dynamic version control (Git/Github)

We would not cover the topic fully without addressing the world of version control. Who isn’t familiar with the good old file naming techniques “V1”, “Version 2”, “dated 04122020” or “comments by John D.”?

There is a solution for this too!

Git is a distributed version-control system for tracking changes in source files which has been around for 15 years and is designed for coordinating work among programmers. But it can also be used to track changes in any set of files in distributed, non-linear workflows.

With the use of pre-configured functions, a programmer can “commit” its own changes to a dedicated branch which can later be merged to the “master” branch once any possible conflicts have been addressed. Git will keep track of all changes made to a particular file across the entire lifecycle of the project workflow.

While Git is free and open-source software distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2, it requires a fair amount coding experience or at least some degree of proficiency in command-line interface. It is not readily available for use by non-developers.

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Fix Documentation Redundancy with Git: A Version Control System

UK offices lose over one million hours a week and £20 million in time due to misplaced documents. Similarly, a global survey showed 83% of employees recreate documents because the initial version was unlocatable on their corporate network. These trends speak of a lack of version control which has led to document mismanagement. While Git is lauded for its versioning capabilities for software development, it remains largely unprecedented in documentation management due to the lack of a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which utilises its full prowess. Git ensures the complete edit history of documentation are synchronised rather than disconnected throughout a project. Thus, we’ll go how the versioning features of Git help solve documentation redundancy and mismanagement.

The Necessity of a Documented Edit History from Start to Finish

Renaming a document from version to version doesn’t tell you exactly what changes were made and who made them. Alongside the lack of clarity between edits, it wastes time to thoroughly analyse them. Git acknowledges there is one project, so every new addition is neatly packed up into an edit history full of timestamps, alongside who made the edits, when the project is updated. The edit history is beneficial for projects as it allows project members to call upon a previous timestamp in case an edit was not satisfactory. This also allows for better productivity since every employee can focus on tasks that had yet to be addressed, rather than having two or more people unwittingly do the same one due to an absent edit history.

Git allows for efficient drafting due to the ability to make a copy of a file which includes the full edit history. This permits experimentation since the edits to the copy won’t affect the file on the corporate server. So if an idea works – great, you can merge it with the server file. If not, you can delete it without disrupting anything. No harm, no foul. In a large-scale project, everyone attached to a project can make their own copies, their own provisional edits and merge them with the server file when appropriate. This eliminates the need to send copies through communication networks. So rather than having an inbox or folders with seventy drafts and a gamut of untracked edits to sift through, everyone can access the one file with every timestamped edit available. Quite the timesaver, right?

Conclusion

In summary, Git provides a complete edit history in a project and allows employees to make provisional changes without affecting the file on the corporate server. In a network, you can see exactly who made the changes and when, which helps bring more security to a project. This eliminates redundancy and keeps documentation in one place as opposed to scattered on cloud services, various computers, drives and folders. Git prevents project development from being held back by poor document versioning, enhancing productivity and reducing redundancy throughout the duration of a project.

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