Businesses work with a lot of documents. Yet, a whopping 97% employ little to no digital processes to make creating, managing and delivering them easier. Why not invest in something that streamlines those processes, while empowering employees to do their best work?
Document automation software is a great solution that helps organizations remove the headaches from those processes, as well as related workflows. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of document automation, including how it works and some of the challenges that go into using the software effectively.
Document automation is a process that leverages technology to automate the production, delivery, and storage of documents. It is commonly used in many different industries, from legal to banking, to reduce manual labor and improve process efficiency.
Document automation involves creating templates for documents, which are then populated with details generated from ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software and other software. Its appeal lies in the fact that everything required to generate a complete and accurate document is handled with minimal effort from the user.
Other benefits of document automation include:
- Increased efficiency – Automating document creation reduces manual labor and improves accuracy, leading to faster production times.
- Improved compliance – By using a standardized process, documents are generated correctly in accordance with industry regulations or legal requirements. This helps ensure that all documents produced meet set standards for accuracy and completeness.
- Reduced errors – Documents are automatically populated according to pre-defined rules, reducing the likelihood of errors and omissions.
- Improved customer experience – Automated processes provide customers with a faster and more efficient service.
How Document Automation Works
On the most fundamental level, document automation software uses algorithms to enable the creation of documents from one or more data sources quickly and efficiently. On the back end, the Document Automation software connects to structured data sources like databases, Excel spreadsheets, or a CRM system. The software then uses this information to populate document templates that can then be used to automatically create documents such as contracts, forms of all kinds, letters, and other files.
Automated document generation solutions enable users to save time and money by removing the need to input content manually and ensuring that documents include the latest information from your key systems.
Step-By-Step Process of Automating a Document
Need things illustrated a little more clearly? Let’s paint a vivid picture of how document automation works with a step-by-step breakdown:
1. Data Input
Everything starts with data. It’s what powers and populates the documents you create. Inputting this information can take many forms, from manually typing it in to importing records from a spreadsheet or key systems like CRM or ERP.
2. Document Creation
The inputted data is then used to create the document. This usually consists of a template – such as a contract, invoice, or agreement – which can be populated with placeholder variables. The variables are replaced with your data from step one so that your document accurately reflects the desired content.
3. Template Customization
Custom branding, styles, and other design elements can be added to the document template. This may include logos, font styles, colors, etc. Once you have chosen and assigned a design scheme and other elements to your document template it will appear, it’ll ensure your documents match your organization’s standards and brand consistently.
4. Document Delivery
Once the document is complete, it can then be automatically delivered to its intended recipient in a variety of ways – via direct download or email, for example. Additionally, documents can also be printed and delivered directly to the recipient’s postal address.
Key Challenges and Considerations
As powerful as it has the potential to be, unlocking the full potential of document automation requires a strategic approach to implementation. You may want to start thinking about how you can transform operations to best utilize the software…this can include anything from developing new processes that take advantage of the added efficiency to modifying existing processes to create more optimized document workflows.
There are a few considerations to make as you approach implementation.
Here are some of the key things to think about:
1. Training and Familiarization
The first and foremost challenge of implementing document automation is getting everyone on board with the changes and also trained in how to use the new system correctly. It’s important to choose an automation system that is intuitive and user-friendly, as software that’s overly complicated will struggle to gain traction among users.
2. Data and Documentation
For document automation to be effective, all the necessary data must be accurate; otherwise, you may end up with generated documents that don’t reflect real-world situations correctly or lack important information. It’s essential to review generated documents before automating them to ensure the template is formatted correctly and the right dynamic variables are being used.
3. Security and Compliance
Data security is critical when it comes to document automation, as any documents that are generated automatically could contain sensitive information. Safeguards such as two-factor authentication or encryption should be put into place to prevent data theft.
4. Ongoing Maintenance and Support
Document Automation is not a set-and-forget solution. Ongoing maintenance and support allow you to continually optimize processes. This is also an area where you can consider evolving how you use the software over time. This may include making changes to document templates as needed, creating new templates for other use cases or better utilizing collaboration or document management features.
Document Automation In Action
Document Automation is already being used in a variety of industries. These are just a few of the biggest use cases.
Healthcare: Automation can be used to generate patient discharge summaries and medical records more quickly and accurately than manual entry methods.
Finance: Financial institutions use document automation to fill out tax forms, create customer account statements or invoices, and generate other documents related to their business operations quickly and efficiently with minimal errors or mistakes.
Human Resources: Automation can be used to create documents such as job descriptions, employee contracts, and onboarding materials.
Legal: Law firms use document automation to draft legal agreements or contracts in a timely and compliant manner with minimal manual intervention required.
Manufacturing: Document automation can be used to generate production orders, quality control reports, and shipping manifests for each product batch manufactured by the company quickly and accurately with no human errors or mistakes introduced during the process.
One of the best ways to see how document automation works in different organizations is to learn from real-life use cases. Below, we’ll highlight some of the creative ways that Experlogix clients have used our software. Just keep in mind — the only limit is your imagination.
Prominent Wheelchair Products Manufacturer Automates Its Insurance Paperwork Through Document Automation Software
The Aspen Clinic is the parent company of Ride Designs, a manufacturer of special seat cushions and posture support pads for wheelchair users. The company works one-on-one with customers to customize their seating system to the individual. They needed a way to streamline and automate the insurance paperwork associated with each customer.
Using Experlogix Document Automation, Aspen Clinic’s staff members were empowered to quickly and accurately generate quotes, invoices, and other documents related to each order with just a few clicks. This enabled them to accelerate the entire process – from initial quote through production completion – significantly reducing paperwork processing time while ensuring accuracy for their customers. As an added benefit to buyers’ experience, Aspen Clinic was able to create personalized delivery packages that initiated each new user with important and case-specific information like maintenance requirements and warranty details.
Investment Platform Vendor Finds Security and Streamlined Process Efficiency with Document Automation
Morningstar – formerly known as Praemium – is one of the world’s most prominent vendors of software for financial advisors and investors. Their technology enables users to manage accounts for hundreds or even thousands of clients at once while delivered personalized service. Although it’s headquartered in Australia, Morningstar operates offices around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, the United Arab Emirates, and Armenia.
Excellent products aside, this company faced a significant challenge with respect to document generation. Executives wanted to provide clients with performance reports, so that clients using Morningstar’s software would have complete visibility into the impact of their investments. Additionally, these reports would need to include a variety of content types, including text, pictures, charts and analytics.
Experlogix provided a powerful, customized Document Automation solution to solve that problem. Templates now enable the platform’s users to create personalized documents in minutes. Clients know the documents are compliant and feel like they’re getting something tailored to their needs. Added features like e-signatures further enhance the speed at which documents can be generated and finalized.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence In Document Automation
Artificial Intelligence is becoming an increasingly prominent part of document automation software. Vendors are designing their solutions with a newfound emphasis on the idea of self-service, where technology can be leveraged to further minimize the need for human input.
AI technology is capable of performing various tasks such as recognizing patterns and extracting data from documents that would otherwise take a human much longer to process. This improved efficiency is beneficial for businesses as it allows them to process large volumes of documents in less time.
In addition to its speed and accuracy, AI can also help to reduce the amount of manual labor associated with document automation processes. With AI-powered tools like natural language processing (NLP) and optical character recognition (OCR), documents can be quickly scanned, indexed, and analyzed without much human intervention. This reduces the burden on team members who would otherwise have to manually read through each document before making decisions.
AI is also helping to facilitate smoother transitions between the various stages of document creation and related processes. For instance, AI-powered bots can be programmed to automate data entry from documents into other systems such as databases or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. This not only reduces the amount of manual labor required but also ensures precision and accuracy when it comes to data entry so that teams don’t run into any issues down the line due to incorrect information being entered into the wrong fields.
Future Trends In Document Automation
We’ve already touched on one of the biggest trends in document automation today – Artificial Intelligence. The burgeoning technology is rapidly redefining the business landscape as a whole, and file processing is no exception.
AI is being used to automate mundane tasks such as data entry, document scanning, and more. AI-powered services are becoming increasingly popular because they improve accuracy and efficiency. AI can also be used to interpret data, analyze documents, extract information from images or audio files, and even generate documents with minimal human intervention.
Another promising trend in document automation is cloud computing. This refers to the use of remote servers and software programs hosted on the internet. It allows businesses to access data and applications from any device, anywhere in the world. Cloud computing is an extremely valuable solution for businesses in need of a cost-effective way to manage large volumes of files.
One final trend worth mentioning is blockchain technology. Although you may associate it with things like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s also becoming increasingly popular in document automation. Blockchain allows for fast, secure transactions without the need for a middleman. It also ensures that documents are stored securely and accurately with less risk of tampering or errors. This last trend has yet to go fully mainstream, but it’s surely on the horizon given its numerous potential advantages.
Accurately creating a single business document is easy. Doing it at scale can be with the right tools. Document automation is the perfect solution for businesses looking to improve their output, reduce errors in paperwork, increase compliance, and ultimately provide a better customer experience.