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Top 5 problems email causes in contract negotiations

At Every Turn TakeTurns Blog
|  by
Christophe Barriolade
Christophe Barriolade
Co-founder & CEO
TakeTurns vs Email
Top 5 problems email causes in contract negotiations

We’ve all been there. You email the contract to your counterparty because it was supposed to be straightforward.  Now it’s weeks later and the entire contract negotiation has gone off the rails. One big reason? You chose to negotiate in email. Its lack of structure has left everyone confused and drowning in a flood of messages. 

In this post, we use an example from real-life (with names changed to protect the innocent!) to illustrate the top five problems email creates when used in contract negotiations. And we discuss where TakeTurns, our structured, secure and transparent collaboration app, can make a difference. 

Problem #1: Same subject, different subject lines

In email, each new subject line creates a new message thread.  While the best practice is to stick with one subject line, that doesn’t always happen. In example above, at least four subject lines were in use: contract, contract final, contract final / redlines, and contract final / redlines - new edits. As a consequence both parties had to manually consolidate multiple message threads to understand what was happening. 

How TakeTurns solves it: Collaborations in TakeTurns have a name that remains consistent during the entire negotiations.

Problem #2: Getting lost in the flood of emails

Negotiations elapse over days and weeks, not minutes and seconds.  Given the volume of emails most professionals receive in that timeframe, it’s easy to see how people lose track of things.  In our example above, it’s crystal clear that John doesn’t know whose turn it is to work on the contract. And he’s not sure where the latest version is, or who has it. So, he attaches his edits because he’s a conscientious guy.  Of course, this is entirely unhelpful if ACME has already started working on their revision. After all, which version are they supposed to edit now? 

How TakeTurns solves it: TakeTurns works turn-by-turn, so each party always knows whose turn it is to work.

Problem #3: No complete view of the entire negotiation

In many negotiations, multiple message threads emerge in parallel. For example, there may be a thread for the main agreement and separate threads for the exhibits. When this happens, there’s no way to get a full view of the entire negotiation.  For the core team this means having to navigate and track multiple threads (with different subject lines and participants). It makes it confusing and easy to miss things.   

How TakeTurns solves it: A collaboration in TakeTurns can include many documents, no need to rely on different threads

Problem #4: Lost participants in the cc:

Throughout a negotiation, both parties add and remove participants for good reason: sometimes expert advice is needed, other times folks will be out of office.  The problem is that individuals added to the middle of a negotiation thread (or, more likely, threads) won’t have any context.  In our example above, John added Helena late in the contract negotiation. While she might be able to glean a little reading through the message thread, she won’t be able to see the history of the discussion or the previous versions of the contract. And, there’s always a chance John didn’t forward everything to her. 

How TakeTurns solves it: You can add participants at any point of time in collaboration. When joining, new participants will be able to see the full history of documents and discussions to get up to speed.

Problem #5: No version tracking on attachments and horrible file names

Email treats each file as an independent document, even if they’re connected.  When people attach files to their email to exchange versions of the contract, there is no version control.  Everyone tries to address this by adding to the file name, and this is how we end up with files like the one we see above, “Contract FINAL FINAL v10 EDITS jp.docx.”  Not only does it make the file name indecipherable, it's impossible to understand which version of the file this is, or who did what and when. This can lead to situations where folks are reviewing different versions of the document. 

How TakeTurns solves it: TakeTurns has built-in version control on documents. Each time a party uploads a revision of a document, it is tracked. No need to manually rename files.

Final thoughts

Obviously these five problems are not the only issues created by email when it’s used in contract negotiations. In fact, we’ve discussed how email creates new other challenges in archiving and pre and post -signature.  

The big picture view is that email creates problems for both parties causing confusion and delay. We think TakeTurns, with its structured, secure, and transparent approach, improves how professionals can collaborate. Learn how TakeTurns can help you remove a bit of that chaos from your contract negotiations for both you and your counterparties.

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