It lets you design and organize templates in popular applications like Microsoft Word and Excel to automate the arrangement of data in the documents according to your preferred standards. This process is also referred to as document automation or document generation and it often incorporates the use of queries to populate the template with relevant data that is sourced from various databases.
Many businesses have adopted document creation system as a standard practice for dealing with documents that are key in the daily operation of a business, for example, invoices, marketing reports, customer account statements, and so much more.
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Document Creation Is a Key Business Function
Automating documents is part of improving the efficiency of a business. Efficiency is an important practice today as it ensures the growth and survival of a business. By introducing a document creator, a business will save time, save money, and cut out human error.
A deeper look at the benefits of automation of documents can provide insight into why it is a key business function. Here are seven of them:
1) Less Time Spent on Repeatable Tasks
Tasks like preparing proposals, quotations, and business contracts take up a lot of time and can be very tedious when carried out by the same individual. With the process automated, however, what would take hours to produce and then reproduce can be done in just a few seconds. Think of how many customers a business can serve if it cuts down on the time spent on these tasks. According to research, almost 50% of employees spend time duplicating paperwork.
2) Eliminates Back and Forth Movement of Documents for Approval
With manual processes, a lot of time is spent going back and forth to get documents approved and to verify data. A person spends a lot of time just to get a single invoice approved. That is in no way efficient. When you automate this process, however, all that back and forth is cut out, a document is created and sent in a matter of minutes and the employees can focus on doing work that really demands their attention.
3) Adherence to Strict Branding Guidelines
Whether you have a small team in one office or thousands of employees across the globe, you can ensure that your brand is well represented at all times. The business logo, colors, and style will remain the same regardless of who is working on a document. Templates are uniform and preapproved so there is no risk of employees departing from the brand whenever they send out documents.
4) Reduced Resource Tied up in Document Tasks
Manual document processes take up a lot of resources. Human resource is needed at various stages of producing a single document and resource like papers are needed for drafting. When automated document creation is introduced to the process, a lot of the resource is freed up and can be utilized in other productive areas of the business. This will also save money.
5) Less Time Spent Training New Employees
A business can significantly cut down orientation time by automating key documents. Many businesses spend too much time teaching new employees how to structure documents as well as key procedures involved in getting approvals. This can be avoided if all they have to do is learn how to use a single software that will handle the creation of the different documents they will be working with. A business will run more efficiently and spend less money training new employees.
6) Significantly Reduce Human Error
Employees both new and old are likely to make errors and some of these can be costly. By reducing the amount of involvement humans have in the creation of documents, errors will also reduce or even be eliminated. Errors can cost a business a lot of money as well as the reputation of the business. The software can perform the same task over and over again without getting too tired to notice errors. There is also no risk of a “bad day” affecting the performance of the software.
7) Improves Data Safety
Sensitive data is well protected in a database where access is granted only to authorized individuals and every time such information is accessed, it will be recorded. This ensures that a business can guarantee heightened security for customer information. This protection of sensitive data is more secure than any filing system. It also ensures that documents do not get lost easily.
Document Creation Process
The document creation process can be made simple if you have the right document automation software, a template, and a datasource.
The document automation software serves as the brain behind every document that is created. It is programmed to manage the process on command. The template serves as the blueprint for whatever document you would need to create and the data source provides the information that is entered into the template to create a document.
The process may initially be a long process that requires intricate attention to detail to ensure that the templates that are created for particular documents are free from error and represent the approved structure for business documents. A quick summary of the template design process involves the following:
Identifying the business brand and how best it can be represented in documents.Choosing standard font style & size, colors, graphics, and logo.Determining which documents need to be automated; for example: emails, invoices, contracts, appointment letters, etc.Agreeing on the structure the different documents should adopt.Employing a professional template designer.Implementing the template.Setting up a dynamic template.
Once the above tasks have been completed, employees will be able to use the templates to create documents. The procedure for document creation may vary slightly depending on the software you use. The general principle though is that a user can choose the type of document they want to create, choose a template that will come with predefined sections, and by answering some queries the user will populate the fields with variable data. This process can take less than a minute, depending on the document being created.
Creating and Editing Documents in MS Word
The best document creation software can integrate with familiar computer programs like MS Word which has 1.2 billion users. This makes it much simpler to use them to automate your documents. Word makes it extremely easy to create letters, purchase orders, invoices, presentations, marketing proposals, contracts, surveys, and many, many more types of documents.
To create a document, you will need to begin by going to custom fields. This will enable you to create a document with areas that can be customized according to your needs. Customized areas of the document are those that may change. For example, if you are sending an invoice to a client, the custom fields would be the name and address of the client, the date, and the figures corresponding to the invoice.
In MS Word, all you have to do is select the kind of document you want to create and then add custom fields in the template. For the areas that will not change like the business logo, address, title, and the rest, you will import those into the document and every time you select the invoice, those will already be there so that you do not have to start editing from scratch.
When you are done editing, save the new document, and then you can send it to the recipient.
Document formatting is an essential consideration when creating documents. A business usually has its preferred format for documents and it is important that it doesn’t have to discard it when it takes on automation software.
If the business uses one of the MS Word formats, then this is an advantage because most software will integrate with Word or they have a similar format that is commonly used. When choosing software, verify if it will allow you to maintain your preferred format.
You might have a problem though if your documents are in PDF. This is usually hard to integrate when automating documents. You may have to change that to a word format. You might have seen what happens when you attempt to copy text from a PDF and paste it elsewhere, the same distortion is likely to happen if you try to automate PDF templates.
The Role of Document Creation Software
Automation of documents is made possible by the software, makes it easy to create and edit different types of documents that are usually used in businesses. This software works with the help of templates that make up the structure of a document.
Templates have fields that can be edited and those that are predetermined. The predetermined fields are what make most of your work easier. For example, if you are creating a contract, the articles of the contract that are usually standard will already be entered so that you simply need to add variable details like the names of the parties signing the contract and figures where necessary.
Documentation creation software makes it possible to merge text-based formats with a data source to create a document. There are some features that a good document creation services or tool needs to have. These include:
Ease of Personalization: Every business may have unique needs and the document software they choose should be able to meet those needs. A wide variety of documents that can be created is necessary.
Translation Ability: Some businesses are multinational and that means documents need to be translated accurately into the languages used in the different countries of operation. A spell and grammar check in those languages is also required.
Integration: There should be no need to learn how to use an entirely new office suite. The software should integrate easily with existing applications like MS Word and Excel so that users are comfortable using the interface.
Easy Access: Businesses today are mobile and the need for a particular document may arise at any time or location. The software should be accessible anywhere as long as a person has an internet connection.
Safety: Even though users should have access to the software remotely, the data should be well protected with access only granted to authorized personnel.
Centralized Management: To ensure that standards are kept, management of data needs to be done from a central location, this ensures that whatever data is used or graphics, they are the same at all times and if they are changed, it is done for all documents.
Ease of Use: This software is supposed to make processes easier so it should likewise be easy to use. The staff of a business should not have to undergo extensive training to be able to use the software and useful tools should be easy to find.
Available Customer Support: In case a user runs into a problem as they use the software, they should have a quick solution from customer support. This could be in the form of a helpful guide or actual support from a human being.
Scalable: The software has to be scalable. As the business grows, the software should be able to handle the new demands that will come with it.
While all the above features contribute to a reliable tool, the software must be able to meet the needs of the user. For example, if the business would like to reduce the time recruits spend on orientation, it is necessary for the software to be easy to use so that in a few days or even better in hours, the new person can comfortably use the software.
There should also be the opportunity to upgrade the software as well as integrate new technology that will make processes even easier.
Document Creation Online
This option is great as an introduction to document automation. The transition from a manual system to automation is easier since it happens without major disruptions to the regular order of business.
Many who are on the go, would appreciate the online creation of documents since they do not have to be in the office to access particular documents. You can find templates already designed and you just edit them to suit your business branding standard.
With online document automation, you can connect the software to your applications where you can access updated data to populate the template. This will ensure that the data used in the document is real-time and approved.
The benefits of using document automation online include:
Easier to control access to confidential documents with access granted to only authorized individuals.Making edits to data is easier and faster since it is only done once from a central location and applied for everyone.Use digital signatures wherever the authorizing individual may be, making the company's workflow so much faster.Access to documents can be tracked all the time so even when a client opens a document, a report will be sent back detailing what time it was opened as well as the location.No matter how many documents are uploaded, they remain easy to access and trace.Less need for in-house IT support since the provider of the online software will have around-the-clock support.In Conclusion
Document creation software is the answer to a tedious yet necessary process of any business: creating documents. Almost every business needs to have different types of documents created daily but this task is very time-consuming. It is a relief that a business can leave this function to an automated document creation system and simply command it to produce a particular document. Like most processes that are automated, this process eliminates human error which can be costly. A business that wishes to improve efficiency in its service to its clients should consider automating the process.
Learn more about Windward's leading document creation tools on our new review pages.