Document Automation & Its Value to A Small-To-Medium Business (SMB)

Document Automation & Its Value to A Small-To-Medium Business (SMB)

Document Automation and SMBs blog post image e1601041374394

Let’s Get Back to Basics

As a small business you may have read or heard about Document Automation and how it could save you a significant amount of time and money…but, before you even contemplate a new expense lets be sure to look at the basics.

  • What exactly is Document Automation?
  • As a small business, how can it help me, i.e. why should I be interested?
  • What if I don’t create that many documents, how can Document Automation still be beneficial for me?

This post will (hopefully!) answer all the above for you and give you suggestions towards what your next steps should be, should you decide it’s something that could add value to your business.

So firstly, what exactly is Document Automation?

According to Wikipedia, ‘Document Automation is the design of systems and workflows that assist in the creation of electronic documents.’ That’s pretty stuffy and academic so let’s do some translation.

As we looked at in a recent blog post Document Automation is about the creation of documents. It’s not about what you do with these documents – that’s Document Management. It’s also not about who will use the documents – that’s Document Workflow. You’ll also see the term ‘templates’ routinely being used. A template is the master that you generate documents from – your ‘Control’. Simply put, your Control ensures you can quickly create accurate, impactful documents repeatedly, at a fraction of the cost of manually creating them. Templates can be Word documents, spreadsheets or even PowerPoint presentations.

As stated in our White Paper, Document Automation has been a standard in various compliance intensive industries for decades. It not only helps to streamline workflows, which results in more productivity and less wasted cost, but effective Document Automation also gives you more time to focus on what matters to your business – selling and serving your Clients.

As a small business, you may think that Document Automation doesn’t apply to you, or you might think you don’t need it, which leads nicely onto our next question…

How can Document Automation help me, in other words, why should I be interested?

The benefits for a small business of implementing Document Automation are numerous. Even if you’re a sole trader, or your business only has a small number of employees, you could benefit from:

  • Significant time and cost savings on document creation and processing.
  • Reduction in the risk of human error due to having efficient, user-friendly procedures in place.
  • Your regulatory requirements, e.g. GDPR, SOX, HIPAA, being met easily, through the use and enforcement of standards.
  • The ability to communicate and edit documents in real-time.

When Document Automation is delivered correctly, the output will not only be more efficient, but can help underpin growth across your business.

Document Automation used to be an expensive, resource intensive undertaking only tolerable to larger organisations. That’s no longer the case. There are now some great solutions designed specifically for businesses of different sizes. What used to take weeks or months to set up, can now be done in hours. What used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, can now cost less than a daily cup of coffee. This page highlights some Document Automation solutions specifically for SMB’s.

You may also need to create and send your documents quickly, efficiently and professionally, or have them legally signed by your Clients, Staff, Partners or Suppliers, our e-book will tell you all you need to know about electronic signatures.

It’s worth remembering that the software subscription for your chosen Document Automation solution will likely be recognised as an allowable expense against the profits of your company and in consequence the corporation tax can be lower as well. A win-win scenario where adopting the solution can save you time, increase profit and quality of service, all while the actual cost is recognised by HMRC as a deductible expense. This article from The Association of Taxation Technicians, (try saying that quickly), explains a bit more.

Check out our graphic illustrating six questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about Document Automation, if you’re still not convinced😉

What if I don’t create that many documents, how can Document Automation still be beneficial for me?

Finally, you may be a sole trader, or your business only has a small number of employees, you could still be thinking, ‘we can do that ourselves’. From creating NDA’s, to drafting contracts of employment, to generating invoices, every business creates documents, and these documents are no doubt being created multiple times per month.

Just think, if you could use a Document Automation solution to create templates of these documents, wouldn’t that allow you to save a significant amount of time? Our ROI calculator will let you see the how much time you could save implementing Document Automation – you may be surprised.

Get in touch with us today for a no-obligation chat. We will help you be the best, most productive and efficient business you can be.

Electronic Signatures, COVID-19, and Mike Tyson

Electronic Signatures, COVID-19, and Mike Tyson

Electronic Signatures

Compliance Regulations have been with us for what seems like an eternity, changing a little and impacting a lot.

Who would have thought one of the most impactful changes would be COVID-19, and the way we have to work not within the regulations, but around archaic processes.

Regulations such as ISO, GDPR and SOC 2 have not changed in the COVID-19 era – what they have done is make us all more acutely aware of our processes, processing arrangements, what is necessary and what is not.

One area in particular the current climate has seen an increase in, is the use of Electronic Signatures, or ‘eSignatures’.

Now that everyone is trying to conduct business in the cloud and with physical signatures being (almost near) impossible to enforce, the use of the eSignature has come into its own – although banks still use faxes like it’s the 1980’s!

With travel restrictions unlikely to be lifted any time soon, businesses and individuals need to adapt and find alternative means of signing documents and contracts – those companies also need to ensure their employees are able to access signature documents remotely.

The legal sector is one industry that has seen a significant increase in the use of e-signatures, with remote contract signings becoming a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have”. Many law firms have updated their policies around eSignatures, however, using an electronic signature does depend on any relevant legislation, regulatory requirements within the specific practice area, and the type of document being signed or executed.

Organisations such as The Law Society have laid out their position around eSignatures, and the Law Society of Scotland has recently published a guide on the use of electronic signatures.

Take at look at our ‘Introduction to E-Signatures’ e-book which outlines all you need to know about e-signatures.

Pre COVD-19, most businesses had a credible plan, but like Mike Tyson said, ‘everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’. I wouldn’t like to argue with Tyson (this is true in so many ways!), plans are only as good as their test, and COVID-19 has tested us all in many different ways-

  • How we were conditioned to work at a set location,
  • handling paperwork
  • requiring clients to be in person evidencing who they are
  • witnessing their signature
  • filling the paperwork and
  • sending receipts by carrier pigeon?!

Additional practical considerations such as, not all documents can be signed electronically, and witnessing the signing of a document – given that a witness may not be able to be in the room physically, is it enough to witness it over a video link? are things that still need to be taken into consideration.

We are all creatures of habit and have been forced to make some radical life and business altering decisions during this current climate.

Like many businesses, we have seen an increase in the use of Document Automation Solutions – the solution of choice before COVID-19 may not be the one that you are thinking about now.

If you would like a no obligation assessment of your post COVID-19 operational needs for Document Automation, please get in touch with us today.

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

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

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.