A contract document map can be used to map and show the overall information architecture and degree of complexity of contract documents – for example:
A contract document map can be implemented in many different ways, some more visual and some less. At its simplest, it can be a table showing all documents, what topics they comprise, and recurring topics across documents.
If one has to work with a large set of documents, with lots of pages, appendices, references, and so on, it is easy to lose the big picture. It is also easy to lose key details, since an issue may be fragmented and addressed in different clauses and attachments. A contract document map offers a glimpse into the information architecture of the document: it helps to keep track of the documents and their titles, their order of precedence, and where contractual topics are addressed. It can also be used as a cover document showing what is (and what is not) part of the contract.
One way to use a contract map is as an assessment and strategy tool.
Assume that you want to convince your decision makers to initiate a contract simplification journey: what better way to do so than showing how complex the current set of documents is. Showing how your documents look through the eyes of someone who has not seen them before may be an eye-opener for those who are just too familiar with the status quo. Showing the number of pages that people need to read to find the scope and goals, for example, may add to the felt need to cut the complexity. Why would you want to address an issue in different clauses, Attachments, and Addenda, if you can do it in one place?
You can also use a contact document map to help people navigate your contract documents and find what is important for them.
If your current contracts with all their references and Amendments are just too much for anyone to handle, a contract document map can help you make the need for change visible. It can work as a conversation starter that says to your decision makers that it is time to do things differently– and more simply. It is a necessary tool when (re)designing the information architecture of contract documents. It also gives you a great starting point that you can use later after you have transformed the documents: people tend to like before and after images.
If, for any reason, you are not able to simplify your contract structure, a contract map can be used as an overview and a wayfinding tool to ensure that readers know exactly where a given topic is discussed.
© 2019 Stefania Passera, Helena Haapio, and WorldCC