Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Document Automation *but Were Too Afraid to Ask

by Monday 18th May, 2020Solutions2 comments

Document Automation

You may have found this article because either a) you were searching for an old Woody Allen movie and made an unfortunate error, or b) you’re looking to ensure your organisation is as effective as possible and you want to know more about this thing called ‘Document Automation’.

I’ll focus my efforts in addressing the audience for “b” – I’ll be extra helpful and suggest those looking for “a” should go here. All the B’s still here? Great!

Before we look at what Document Automation is and how it can be useful, we should clarify what it isn’t, as it’s often confused. Document Automation is about the creation of documents. It’s not about what you do with them – that’s Document Management. It’s also not about who will use the documents – that’s Document Workflow. Finally, it’s not about negotiating, that’s known as Lifecycle Management. The good news is, an effective Document Automation tool can and should work in partnership with all the aforementioned. As your organisational needs grow, so should your Document Automation support these additional requirements.

So, Document Automation – How do you know if you could benefit from it?

Quick quiz, answer the following questions:

  • Do you work in an industry or vertical that has a high level of compliance? E.g. GDPR, SOX, HIPAA, FOIA, BSI etc.
  • Could the contents of your documents cause impact to your organisation if they contained errors? E.g. Contracts, calculations, clauses, personally identifiable information etc.
  • Do you have a high volume of repeatable documents?
  • Do you have a dispersed workforce that need to access the same content?
  • Does your team/organisation require to collaborate regularly on documents?
  • Do you spend a significant amount of time drafting and creating any form of document? Don’t just think of Word documents – what about spreadsheets, presentations, emails?
  • Do any of the documents you create have a significant potential value? E.g. Sales quotes, proposals, contracts.

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then there is a good chance that a Document Automation solution could be of benefit to you.

But what I’m doing just now is what we’ve always done…

While the team here at DocGovern can wax lyrical about why almost any organisation can benefit from a good Document Automation solution, the reality is that many are persevering with what are effectively workarounds. Do any of the following sound familiar to you?

  • Using ‘Find and Replace’ in your trusty old document.
  • Using colour schemes to highlight what variables should be changed each time a new version of the document is created.
  • Renaming an old document and then manually picking through all the changes that are needed to make it the “new” document.

While these can work short term, they will invariably lead to disaster, leaving you open to the following threats:

  • Typos. One mistyped letter can completely change the intent of a document.
  • Omissions. What did you leave out that you really shouldn’t have?
  • Inclusions. What did you leave in that you really, really shouldn’t have?
  • Poor Presentation. Do you really want your quotation going out in Comic Sans because Pete in Sales thinks it’s “friendly”?
  • Compliance. GDPR is just the start. You have a legal obligation to ensure your data is secure and used correctly.
  • Time Waste. Multiple people working on a document, emailing it back and forth, checking it, correcting it. The pennies are quickly becoming pounds and adding up.

So now you know…

A good Document Automation solution can address all these threats. A great Document Automation solution can address the threats and much more, pushing and pulling data held within your other business systems to minimise risk and maximise the value of the information that you already own.

There are a significant number of Document Automation solutions in the market (over 250 at the last count), and you can be sure at least one of them will provide you with the specific functionality you need. The key to selecting the right one is ensuring you fully understand what your organisation needs today and tomorrow, and that the chosen solution is built in a way to not only support this, but offer additional ways in which you can increase your operational effectiveness.

Like to know more? Get in touch, we’d be happy to help.

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2 Comments

  1. Bruce

    Good discussion regarding what document automation is and is not. What approach do you recommend should be taken to analyze which of the 250 solutions provides the necessary functionality at maximum value for a particular situation? Thanks

    Reply
    • Gary Lessels

      Hi Bruce,

      Good question! We offer a solution selection service to do exactly that. We take the time to understand your organisational needs and then match that against our extensive analysis of the solutions. You can see more towards our approach under our Resources section- that should give you some additional ideas.

      Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like further information and thanks again for your comment.

      Reply

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