This topic will provide you with a conceptual understanding of how contract changes are merged in Ironclad.
You can update and version a contract without interacting with the contract itself by using Ironclad’s Edit Info form. However, because the Edit Info form relies on your template to generate a new version, it is limited in when and how it can work.
When changes are made directly to your contract (either outside of Ironclad or in Ironclad Editor), you’ll almost always be working on a version that is not represented by your template or by the set of options you created within your Edit Info form.
Traditionally, this has required CLM providers to limit how many versions you can create via forms (like the Edit Info form) for fear of overwriting non-standard changes made to the contract.
This problem, in another form, has existed in Big Law for a long time. When working on complex contracts law firms have multiple lawyers editing different versions of the same document. They then face the problem of how to combine these versions into a single document to send to their counterparty. The solution: an associate who reviews all of the changes and merges them into a single document.
Applying this analogy to Ironclad, your counterparty redlining your Indemnification Clause is Partner A, your sales user updating the Contract Term via Salesforce is Partner B, and the Smart Merge algorithm is in the middle combining both sets of changes into a single output, without any fear of overwriting data.
This allows Ironclad to continue generating templated updates (via Edit Info or an integration) while complex negotiations happen in other areas of the document.
What does this look like in practice?
In most cases, this process is fairly invisible. Your legal team (or other contract negotiators) can work directly on the document, creating custom language to suit your deal’s needs, while other users use the Edit Info form to apply standard changes to the contract. The only indication that a little more is going on behind the scenes is a merge indicator on the version.
Note: Please review your merged documents well, especially when launching new templates for the first time.
However, sometimes it’s not possible for Ironclad to determine which changes should go into the next version. Returning to our Big Law analogy, imagine that both Partner A and Partner B edit the same clause, but in different ways. In this situation, the conflict has to be discussed and resolved. Ironclad works the same way. If a change you make using the Edit Info form attempts to edit a part of the document that is being directly negotiated, the participants in the workflow see an alert:
Click Review Conflict to view both changes and decide which one is correct.
Finally, there are times when the algorithm can’t safely generate the next version. In this case, a warning is displayed and users must update the document and its data independently.
If you want to revert to a previous version while using merging your contract changes, click Report issues located under Document Conflicts on the right. You can disable Smart Merge for that specific workflow, revert to a previous version, and if applicable, reset all existing approvals.
Note: If at any point you want to download your document, you must resolve any existing conflicts. If you have existing conflicts, the download functionality is disabled and you will see a message upon hover stating that you must resolve your document's conflicts.
There are some limitations to Smart Merge when there are table conflicts or structure changes. This includes:
- columns being added, removed, or resized
- unwrapped content in the table cells
In these cases, consider disabling Smart Merge.