Xcential has partnered with legislatures around the globe to identify strategies and design products that will bring modernization, efficiency and transparency to the most important work that you do – drafting and amending your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations.
In this blog we will cover the top five features of modern legislative drafting tools that should be a part of your lawmaking system in 2022.
- Templates for all of your legislative document types
- Amending in context and automated amendment generation – in seconds
- Drafting collaboration – letting your team work on the same document, at the same time
- Working from anywhere, at anytime – and staying connected to your documents
- Time savers and accuracy checks
1. Choose the right document template, every time
Every day, drafting teams work with a variety of common document types – appropriations bills, resolutions, amendments, proclamations and many more. Over time, drafting offices have developed starting templates for multiple bill and document types, sparing the time waste of wheel reinvention on every new document. In many offices, we’ve found that these time-saving (and rule-driven) templates aren’t stored or updated in a central location, and, instead, that they’re stored in file folders on an individual drafter’s C: drive. As you may have experienced yourself, this means there is very little control over whether the latest and greatest – or even the correct – template is being used for any particular project.
Xcential’s LegisPro provides the template control you’ve been missing. This powerful software offers drafters multiple templates for drafting that can be customized specifically for your traditions and the kind of bill or regulation you are working on. More important, these templates are managed and stored in a central repository and will be immediately accessible whenever you are starting a new project, so you never again have to worry about working off of an old template.
2. Draft amendments in context and automatically generate amendments in seconds
You know the hours upon hours of work that amendment generation can take. It’s very often an arduous and deadline-pressured process, in which you have to draft amendments separately from the original or base bill, and then, if approved, stitch those amendments back into the original bill. More than one drafter or engrossment clerk has told us that this process is the cause of a significant number of overnight shifts for drafting teams – and errors.
Xcential’s LegisPro tool flips the entire amendment generation process on its head. You can draft in context – in other words, directly in the bill or other document you are crafting – and track your changes, just like you can in a Word document. Once you have written in all the recommended changes to your document, you simply click a button and let LegisPro do all the work. Each change you’ve made will get spun out as an amendment document, ready for review, debate and approval. Then, when the amendment language is approved, click “accept changes” and a new version is automatically created, with the amendments engrossed. . LegisPro’s in-context amending plus auto-amendment generation will save you massive amounts of time and energy. Plus, the software will maintain page and line numbers (as needed) and update all the links to affected laws with 100% accuracy.
3. Collaborate with your drafting team on the same document, at the same time
Pulling together a drafting team to work on the same document – say, a 400-page bill – can be a logistical and error-prone nightmare. In many offices, drafters working on the same measure will be using separate Word files, emailing sections back and forth to each other, or even printing out pages upon pages of changes and manually retyping these edits back into the master document – all while under the pressure of a looming deadline. This inefficient process exposes drafters to a huge potential for error.
With LegisPro, multiple drafters can work on separate parts of a document simultaneously. An innovative locking function allows each team member to work on a specific paragraph or section while other drafters on the team are working on their designated sections. Your LegisPro tool will keep track of all of the changes that are being made and automatically assembled the revised draft
4. Work from anywhere, anytime – and stay connected to your documents
Legacy bill drafting systems really struggle when it comes to demands of remote working. It’s hard to pass around paper documents and use trusted “colored pencil” edit and amending processes when you’re working from your home office or kitchen table. Sharing PDFs with digital “sticky notes” is, at best, a Band-Aid solution. Some desktop-bound systems can provide only limited feature sets when you’re working away from your office desk. When you are drafting amendments on a decades-old platform like Word, or in another similarly outdated document environment, you are not only locked into a fixed document model that must be used regardless of actual need, but you are also stuck behind your desk. In addition, when your work is not web-based, you have limited access to critical drafting tools and resources you may need as you work. This is an aging and almost bygone way of creating documents.
Because it’s web-based, today’s LegisPro can be accessed virtually from wherever you work, providing you with the full set of drafting, amending and collaboration tools – seamlessly, whether you’re working fully online or from your office desktop . You can have anytime-access to the statutes or other documents you have been working on, and you can be certain that all links, cross-references and shared materials are being automatically updated as you work. You can experience all these benefits of web-enabled technology while still getting you the look and feel of the familiar old word processor.
5. Save time and eliminate errors
The transition from familiar drafting tools to a much more modern solution can be a frustrating process. However, if you choose to upgrade to the LegisPro drafting platform, you won’t have to worry about making the tradeoff between the power of the latest in legislative technology and the functionality of your favorite, but outdated, applications. We’ve worked to mirror – and improve – many of your current drafting tools. Yes – you’ll still be able to cut, paste, undo and redo. Whether you’re working on your desktop or laptop, at the office or from home, LegisPro will look and feel like Word, but enable you to do so much more.
These five key features should be at the heart of a modern, data-first legislative drafting system – and they’re at the core of Xcential’s LegisPro. With the “new normal” of remote working and an increasingly challenging legislative climate, they can bring much greater efficiency, accuracy and transparency to you legislative process in 2022.