You are working in Microsoft Word to prepare a document that will be seen outside your organization. The content must to be up-to-date and accurate, it needs to comply with the corporate style standard of your organization and you are busy so you need to get the document done with minimum effort and time. You have prepared plenty of documents in Word before but you would not describe yourself as an expert in the finer points of Word styling and layout.
If the above feels like a familiar scenario, this blog is for you. It describes how organizations around the world are using software called MacroView ClauseBank to streamline the preparation of documents – documents that have up-to-date, approved content and that comply with corporate style standards.
Importantly, while MacroView ClauseBank works in the familiar Microsoft Office client, its operation is web-enabled so that business users can securely access and re-use its content from anywhere they can connect to the Internet.
MacroView ClauseBank not only assists with the drafting of new Word documents, Outlook emails and PowerPoint presentations – it also makes it easy for business users to add new content to a central bank of re-usable content, without requiring any specialist content management skills. At the same time MacroView ClauseBank provides a practical way for central Knowledge Management areas to retain control over the quality of content that is available for re-use.
The blog also describes how MacroView ClauseBank fits nicely with the infrastructure that is already installed in many organizations, making it popular with IT administrators as well as well as business users. It also shows a great way to get started quickly with ClauseBank.
Hack a Previous Document vs Insert Standard, Approved Content
When faced with the need to prepare a new document many users open a previous document that is relevant in some way and use it as a basis for the new document. This ‘Hack a previous document’ approach seems attractive but it carries real risks -specifically that some content from the previous document is inadvertently left unchanged. This looks very unprofessional and can be highly embarrassing – leaving text that has been tailored specifically to the previous addressee and is now out-of-date such as interest rates, dates, pricing is a real business risk.
The safer approach is to build up the new document by inserting standard, approved content. MacroView ClauseBank facilitates this approach in a number of ways:
1) Finding the right content to re-use is simple.
2) Having the retrieved content comply with corporate style standards.
3) Ensuring that the re-used content is up-to-date.
4) Making it easy for users to add new content items.
5) Streamlining deployment, including across multi-location, global enterprises.
Finding the Right Content to Re-Use
When in Microsoft Word you simply click the Insert, Clause button and MacroView ClauseBank displays a menu of available re-usable content items. You can easily tailor the structure of the hierarchical menu to so that it makes sense to users in your organization.
As you click on each content item, MacroView ClauseBank displays a fully-formatted preview of the item. It can also display any usage description that has been recorded for the item. Seeing the formatted preview and the description really helps you to be sure that you are choosing the right content item.
ClauseBank also allows you filter available items based on their names and to search for items based on their content. The search is nice and quick because it is powered by the SharePoint search engine.
Having found the right content item or items the next step is to retrieve them from the central content bank and insert them into the document, presentation or email that you are drafting. MacroView ClauseBank makes this easy and intuitive – you double-click or drag and drop the content item or items that you want and when you click OK the items are inserted in your document at the current cursor position.
MacroView ClauseBank is fully Unicode-compliant, which means that library names, content item names, metadata values and content items that contain double-byte characters (e.g. Chinese, Thai, etc.) display correctly. ClauseBank can also be configured so that its menus and messages are displayed in a range of non-English languages, including Dutch, French, Spanish, Simplified & Traditional Chinese, etc.
Complying with corporate style standards
As it retrieves and inserts content items, MacroView ClauseBank retains all styles – right down to character level. Providing the correct styles have been applied to the content items as they are loaded to the central content store, your retrieved content will be formatted correctly – you do NOT require any special Word skills to re-format the content so that it complies with your organization’s corporate style standards. This is a real life-saver when you are working late to prepare a document or presentation and your secretarial support staff have gone home.
A frequently-asked question from legal users is whether the retrieved content items are numbered correctly. The answer is ‘Yes’ – all that is required is that the items loaded into the central content store have the correct numbering styles applied.
Ensuring that Retrieved Content is Up-To-Date
Each item of content in a MacroView ClauseBank can have an Update Frequency and a Content Expert specified for it. The Update Frequency is used to automatically set an Expiry Date. If a content item has passed its Expiry Date you will not be able to select and retrieve it into your document. Typically MacroView ClauseBank is configured so that a special marker is displayed next to expired items so that users know which content items cannot be retrieved because they are already out-of-date.
The Content Expert is a Person or Group that will be automatically alerted when a content item for which they are responsible is about to expire. By clicking a link in the alerting email a Content Expert can open a content item for editing. When the Content Expert re-saves the content item, its Expiry Date is advanced by the Update Frequency interval and users are then able to select and retrieve the item.
Making it easy for users to add new content items
A major challenge for any content management solution is the ongoing need to add new content – e.g. descriptions of new products or services, fresh slides in PowerPoint decks, profiles / CVs that reflect a staff members’ growing experience in more industries and types of work, etc.
MacroView ClauseBank addresses this challenge by allowing an end-user to add new content items to the central content bank simply by clicking the New Clause button in Microsoft Word. That’s right – you don’t need specialist skills, or to leave the familiar environment of Word and go into a special content management application.
Most organizations prefer to have a review and approve workflow triggered as soon as an end-user saves a proposed new content item. That way central administrators can check and adjust the formatting and generally ensure quality before the new item is published to all users.
This accessibility and ease of use significantly reduces the effort and cost associated with maintaining a central ClauseBank so that it moves with your organization and remains relevant. Because it strikes a nice balance between end-user enablement and central quality control, MacroView ClauseBank is a practical and effective tool for Knowledge Management.
Some organizations use AutoTexts / Quick Parts as a way to provide their users with standard, approved text and graphics for use in their document drafting. This approach has real limitations in relation to structuring, presentation, previewing and deployment – especially when there are a large number of items.
MacroView ClauseBank uses Microsoft SharePoint to store its content items. Microsoft SharePoint is multi-user and web-enabled. This is great news when it comes to deployment of content items in a multi-location organization – new and updated content items are simply saved to a central SharePoint site, from where they can be accessed from anywhere by users with appropriate permissions.
Although MacroView ClauseBank uses SharePoint to handle storing and searching for content items end-users do not have to struggle with the SharePoint web browser UI when they want to find and retrieve those content items. Instead ClauseBank lets the user continue working in familiar environment of Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.
MacroView ClauseBank can be implemented on any level of SharePoint – on-premises SharePoint or Office 365 / SharePoint Online. Most organizations already have SharePoint – if they do not they can use SharePoint Foundation (the free version of SharePoint) to support their MacroView ClauseBank site(s).
Quick-Start with MacroView ClauseBank
A great way to get started with ClauseBank is to take advantage of the way ClauseBank lets you use a tree of folders in a SharePoint library to create a multi-level taxonomy of available clauses. You do not have to define or record values in any metadata columns – you simply save some documents to folders in a document library in a site within your Office 365 tenancy. When you point ClauseBank at that site, the tree of content items will mirror the folder tree of saved documents. Your new ClauseBank can extend across multiple document libraries. As mentioned above, you can do this on variant of SharePoint – SharePoint Server, SharePoint Foundation or SharePoint Online.
MacroView ClauseBank Advanced Features
The Clause Link feature can dramatically streamline the maintenance of a bank of precedent documents. Anyone who has a large set of precedents or standard documents will be aware that certain text and graphic content can occur in multiple places. When a common content item needs to change, it can be a nightmare to find and update all instances of that item.
A much smarter approach is to have a single copy of the content item in a Clause Library, and use the Insert Link command to insert links to that common item from all the precedents or standard documents in which it needs to appear. As the user is about to start using the precedent, the Expand Links command retrieves and inserts the up-to-date copy.
Similarly the Virtual Clause feature allows a commonly used content item to appear in multiple Clause Libraries, but for there to be a master copy of that clause in a central library. This increases convenience (e.g. each Business Unit can have its own Clause Library which contains a Corporate Profile item) while at the same time minimizing update effort (i.e. only need to update the master copy of the Corporate Profile in a central library).
The ClauseBook feature generates a document that lists all the content items in the ClauseBank. This is a very useful tool for those responsible for the ongoing management and maintenance of the ClauseBank.
MacroView ClauseBank logs the usage of content items so that usage reports can be generated. By highlighting the content items that are heavily-used and least-used these reports are very useful for the on-going management of the ClauseBank.
MacroView ClauseBank can also be incorporated as a component of a complete Document Automation solution for an organization. The automated assembly of documents can include retrieval of standard content from a central ClauseBank. The assembly automation logic can also invoke MacroView ClauseBank so that the user can select one or more optional clauses from the ClauseBank dialog at appropriate points in the assembly process.
How Customers are Using MacroView ClauseBank
Check out this Youtube video of MacroView ClauseBank in action and visit the MacroView ClauseBank page on the MacroView website.
Contact MacroView for more information about how MacroView ClauseBank can make the drafting of documents faster and safer for your organization.