Meet the team - Jess Aldridge

This time on ‘Meet The Team’, we’d like to introduce Jess Aldridge, Devant’s Information and Knowledge Manager. Over the years, the company has amassed a large collection of knowledge related to our expertise – detailed information, data, best practices and specialised documentation. Jess organises and keeps this information up to date so our consultants can better serve our clients.

When I first joined Devant, I was a wide-eyed graduate who had been applying for graduate administration roles as I felt this broadly matched my personality and skill-set. I knew that I wanted to work somewhere where I could see and feel the impact of what I was doing and be part of a close-knit team.  To those who haven’t encountered it before, the title of ‘Information and Knowledge Manager’ may seem kind of vague. I don’t think some of my friends and family have fully grasped what it is that I do but for Devant, where it matters, it is integral to how the business operates. 

As a result, I have a range of responsibilities but one of my greatest undertakings since starting has been a complete re-structuring of how Devant stores, organises and accesses its information and documents. I spent my first few months getting to grips with what exactly we had, where it is and how best to organise it for the whole team’s benefit in the future. It was certainly a long process, one of ‘learning as you go’ but we have finally found the best structure for our requirements and needs. Devant is coming into its twentieth year and in that time the business has accumulated a lot of knowledge, documents and information so having someone in a role such as this is key to maintaining the organisation and order. This means that our consultants can focus on our clients confident that they know what we have and where it is and if they don’t, I am only a phone call away!

I have other responsibilities, of course and whilst some of these are basic administrative tasks that support the businesses daily functions, there are also tasks that are more niche, such as the work and training I have done on with Word templates and Word styles which directly affect how all of Devant’s documents look. 

At Devant, we make sure that your contracts work effectively for your business and we create agreements, tools and processes that drive your business forward. This means that they should drive the outcomes you expect from your commercial relationships – whether they’re with suppliers, partners or clients. We also want to make sure that your contracts reflect the business ‘personality’ that works in your market, and convey the right message. Whether that’s a friendly, low-key style or something more formal to earn you respect among the corporate clients you sell to. As part of Devant’s commitment to furthering your commercial education throughout our relationship, our process is, at its very core, down to earth. We will speak and write in plain business English, making our communications to you, our contracts and all other documents we produce, clear and understandable.

Whilst much of what lies in creating user-friendly documents is how we draft, how we refine our documents and the language we use, Devant also has a preferred drafting style. This underpins two things: how our documents are structured and how our documents appear on the page. Too often, contracts appear unappealing because they are long, packed with legalese which can be difficult to make head or tail of but they’re also badly structured; drafted with multiple levels of clauses and sub-clauses all with lots of different numbering which can feel overwhelming and confusing, sometimes even intimidating, to look at and get through.

Simply, if a document is not friendly to on the eyes, it is harder to follow and make sense of. At Devant, we take advantage of Word Styles to control levels within our documents so that they are straight forward and consistent. It is always frustrating to look through a document and spot errors, especially in numbering and alignment because this is distracting to the eye, it forces our attention away from the text itself. Being rigorous in this way doesn’t just benefit our clients, allowing us to produce documents that are easier to engage with but it is also easier for our Team to format, work with and review. We see the importance of this simplicity, which is why it is part of my role is to maintain and tweak as necessary. We aim to keep our documents structured over three levels; a main clause heading i.e. ‘1’, the sub-clauses i.e. ‘1.1’ and insets i.e. ‘a)’. Occasionally, a document may warrant a fourth level which is what we call a sub-inset i.e. ‘i)’ style numbering. 

Overall, we have found that this produces agreements that feel productive, thorough and structured – and won’t fry your brain when you read them!