Document automation, also referred to as document assembly, is the technology-enabled process of creating commonly used documents, such as contracts, invoices, quotes, or offer letters, at scale.
How does document automation work?
Document automation relies on software that pulls data either from a questionnaire or an existing database to populate a template and produce new documents.
For example, when creating a standard contract, the document automation software can identify personal data, such as the client’s name and address, from a form and input it directly into smart fields within a document template. The software can also scan third-party databases or internal systems, such as the organization’s configure price quote (CPQ) or customer relationship management (CRM) systems, to further personalize and customize document fields.
What documents can be automated?
Any document that is commonly reproduced is a good candidate for document automation. However, organizations must keep in mind that the software will update only select fields based on rules within the system and information available within the organization.
While document automation software continues to advance and can now produce more detailed and nuanced files based on more complex rules and detailed templates, the most common use cases involve files that require minimal changes from one instance to the next. These may include:
Benefits of document automation
The primary purpose of document automation software is to create documents faster by automating the time-consuming, labor-intensive manual processes associated with drafting and creating common documents. However, a document automation system offers many other important benefits beyond time and cost efficiency. These include:
- Reduced error: Any time a human creates a document, there is a risk of error. These mistakes can run the gambit, from a mundane typo to critical omissions to using outdated terms and conditions. At best, these errors can reflect poorly on the brand; at worst, they can open the organization to serious legal or regulatory risk. Leveraging document automation software helps ensure the final document contains all the necessary components and most up-to-date language so that every file is accurate, complete and properly formatted.
- Enhanced compliance: An increasingly complex regulatory landscape, driven by the overarching trends of digitization and globalization, requires companies to have enhanced visibility into business operations to ensure compliance. Leveraging document automation software to produce any number of documents, including contracts, client agreements, reports and filings, helps ensure that all files are created with compliance in mind.
- Expedited processes: In addition to increasing the speed at which documents are produced, a document automation system will also expedite the document review and signature processes. Because documents are produced electronically, organizations can shave days or even weeks off a typical contracting period by sending files electronically and requesting the required digital signatures.
- Reallocation of resources: Every hour an employee spends preparing a routine document is time that cannot be spent on higher-value work. By automating document creation, sharing and review, employees can focus on tasks associated with their primary role, be it sales, employee relations, accounting, or client service and support.
- Business continuity: With a document automation system, critical files are saved in a centralized location that can be accessed by any authorized user via a SaaS application. This means that business operations is not contingent upon one person or a physical office; rather, any credentialized user with internet service can access and manage needed files. Given the shift to asynchronous, remote work, this is a critical capability for most large companies and scaling organizations.
- Brand integrity: Most document creators are not designers – nor do they wish to concern themselves with the details of the brand guidelines. By automating document generation, the organization helps ensure all documents maintain brand integrity, including correct and consistent use of the company logo, name, color palette, fonts and other brand considerations.
- Digital storage: One of the added benefits of document automation is that all document creation is done electronically. This negates the need to print, file, store and maintain physical copies of files.
Document automation use cases
Document automation is a critical capability for any organization that needs to create and share documents at scale. It is especially important for large businesses and growing companies, the likes of which cannot afford to spend valuable resources recreating the same core document multiple times.
While document automation has many use cases, some of the most common include:
Document automation for sales enablement
Document automation software can be used to develop quotes, contracts and other assets used during the sales process. In this case, document automation not only saves valuable time, but also reduces the likelihood of human error by ensuring all documents contain relevant, complete and updated components related to the terms and conditions of the sale.
Document automation for legal services
Lawyers and legal professionals are among the most frequent users of document automation. Use of document automation software by law firms and legal teams reduces the time-consuming tasks of researching and drafting contracts and other detailed legal documents, allowing staff to focus on more high-value activity.
Document automation for human resources (HR)
HR is another function that generally needs to produce a high volume of documents based on a standard template. Automating processes for employee relations, which can include offer letters, policy agreements, confirmation of training, or completion of a review cycle, are excellent candidates for document automation in that they require very little customization and can be pushed through to the e-signature phase quickly using a workflow tool.
Document automation for regulatory compliance
Any organization that operates in a complex regulatory landscape would benefit from document automation. This may include financial services, insurance, healthcare and others. Document automation ensures that any customer-facing or public documentation includes the proper compliance measures, reducing the risk of the organization.
What to look for in a document automation tool
The document automation solution landscape can be crowded and confusing for many organizations. Here are some questions to consider when evaluating various document automation systems:
Accessibility and ease of use
- Can the system be accessed from any internet-connected device?
- Does the system offer a robust mobile experience?
- Does the document generation solution easily and seamlessly integrate with other existing business software solutions, applications and external data sources?
- Does the document automation software support all systems currently in use by the organization?
- Will integration with legacy systems or tools require a lengthy or complex data migration process?
- Does the documentation automation software support the specific use case your organization has in mind?
- Are there relevant case studies or client testimonials available for review to prove the value of the solution?
- Can the tool push an update to all relevant documents in real time?
- Can the software support batch document creation or processing for documents? (e.g. a policy update applicable to all employees or a contract update for all clients)
- Does the system capture all interaction data with end-users?
- Can this data be incorporated into other systems to drive customization and personalization, as well as identify relevant trends and produce insights?
Document automation and Inscribe
As the number of documents produced explodes each year, organizations charged with reviewing such documentation may find that they are spending copious amounts of time to validate and authenticate such files.
Inscribe is a technology partner that helps businesses review documentation and detect fraudulent customer information through advanced technology and automation. Our rules-based fraud detection capabilities and machine learning helps banks, financial institutions and other organizations generate a full analysis of the legitimacy of various documents – even those produced by another company with a document automation tool.
To learn more about how Inscribe is helping organizations detect and prevent document-based fraud, please schedule a personalized demo.