Here’s a short quiz for you:
- Have you spent more than 5 minutes creating a routine business document in the past month?
- Have you recently sent out a document to a client, only to spot a glaring mistake after hitting Send?
- Do you love manually creating documents?
If you answered yes to question 3, then this article isn’t for you. You may, however, enjoy this one.
If you answered yes to any of the other questions, though, it might be time to either upgrade your current document generation solution, or implement one if you haven’t already.
Why Use Document Generation?
Document generation solutions allow you to take a tedious yet vital business function and automate it so that your team can focus on the highest-value work. Document generation solutions have high ROI because of the efficiency, accuracy, and security that they bring to the table.
Every business has a multitude of mission-critical documents that they need to create every day -- quotes, invoices, contracts, proposals -- and these are just a few. By digitizing and automating these vital documents, businesses are able to save time and money, make their employees happier and more productive, and provide more value to their customers.
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What Should You Look For In A Document Generation Solution?
Sure, document generation solutions will increase productivity and efficiency all around. Employees will be able to respond quicker to your customers’ needs, and the days of sending out typo-ridden documents will be in your rearview mirror. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just start googling away and land on the first link you see with the words “document” and “generation” in the preview snippet.
The fact of the matter is, document generation solutions can be extremely powerful tools, though they may sound simple enough at first. This means that there’s a lot to consider when shopping around for the right solution, and not all document generation tools are created equal. Luckily, we’ve compiled this list of must-have features that any business needs to look for during their document generation evaluation.
Seamless Integration Into Your Existing Business Processes
Document generation solutions work by merging your business data into pre-built templates so that you don’t have to chase down information and make sure you’ve copy-pasted correctly. Therefore, they need to be compatible with the current processes and workflows that go into collecting and storing your business data. Choosing a solution that integrates well with your current system is a must to ensure smooth setup and minimal hiccups down the road. Seamless integration also helps because the less user training required, the faster you can get your solution implemented and start seeing productivity skyrocket.
If you’re using Salesforce, look for native solutions first. Native Salesforce applications are built on the Salesforce platform, meaning that they are seamlessly integrated automatically. Native apps mirror the look and feel of Salesforce, minimizing the amount of user training required. They’re also incredibly secure and faster than non-native solutions, meaning they’re a perfect place to begin your solution evaluation.
Powerful Yet Easy-To-Use Template Editor
Document generation solutions depend on pre-built templates that are configured before end-users interact with them. Choosing a solution that employs an intuitive, powerful method for building these templates will mean that templates can be deployed for use faster and ultimately look much more sleek and professional. We recommend looking for a document generator with a built-in template editor that doesn’t require you to use an external program every time you need to make an edit, thereby providing you with optimal efficiency.
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Generating your documents with the click of a button instead of by hand is extremely efficient -- however, good document generators will take it a step further and allow you to employ document automation. Almost any business will have processes or stages in the sales cycle that always require certain documents to be created and sent. Automating these scenarios allows you and your team to continue to focus on what really matters, while those quotes or proposals are sent in the background with all of the information they need. In this day and age, there’s no reason repetitive tasks like routine document creation shouldn’t be automated.
Automation will be especially important when your business and your document needs grow. As your organization expands, manually creating documents won’t just be annoying and time-consuming -- it’ll be practically infeasible. You should look for a document generation solution that supports automation now to ensure you’ve covered all your bases in the future.
Dynamic Content Rendering
Let’s say your business sends out a master service agreement whenever a deal reaches a certain stage. Basic document automation would be able to get this done easily -- provided that the same master service agreement is being sent to every customer. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t actually the case.
Here’s where dynamic content rendering comes in, and why it’s an absolute necessity when it comes to document generation solutions. Dynamic content rendering allows you to include or exclude certain portions of your documents based on business rules. Depending on your requirements, it could be as simple as including different terms and conditions clauses for contracts being generated for customers in different states, or as complex as changing the entire structure of your contracts based on the customer’s company size, country, industry -- the options for customizing your documents to your specific business workflows are endless.
Document generation solutions that employ dynamic content rendering allow you to create living, breathing documents that are tailored to the needs of your customers, completely automatically. Look out for this critical feature during your evaluation.
Runtime prompts are a way for users to provide their own input while generating a document. They work by pausing the document generation process and prompting users with questions -- they could be in the form of multiple choice options, checkboxes, blank text areas, etc. -- and then merging their input into the document directly, or using the input as a variable for dynamic content rendering.
Finding a document generation solution that supports runtime prompts is important for a number of reasons. First, it allows for maximum dynamic content rendering flexibility. There are some complex situations where predetermined business rules can’t fully rely on automated processes; user interaction would be required in these situations. Second, it ensures that compliance to company policies is upheld. Runtime prompts allow users to edit certain aspects of a document that are preconfigured for them, without giving them access to edit everything.
Batch Document Generation
Batch document generation is another requirement for any business looking for a new document generation solution. Whether you’re a large enterprise or small startup, there will be times where you’ll need to generate lots of documents at once. These situations are made easy with document generation solutions that support batch processing.
Support For Multiple Document Output Formats
Your business isn’t exclusive to one single document output file type, so you need to find a document generation solution that supplies the formats you need to keep your business functions running. There are lots of common document output formats that are being used every day. From PDF to XLSX, it’s important that your document generation solution supports the varied file types that your business relies on.
What’s the point of automating your digital documents if you have to download them and then attach them to an email in an external program?! Email support is crucial for any document generation solution because it allows for an uninterrupted workflow from start to finish. You should look for a document generation solution that supports sending your documents and logging those emails in your current system so that you can easily refer back to them.
However, a great document generation solution doesn’t stop at just emailing your documents -- it provides a canvas for customization. You should be able to create email templates to go along with those documents as well. Email templates are valuable because they can be pre-configured just like regular documents can -- including dynamic data and content rendering -- and also be automatically populated with correct recipient information. Creating great-looking emails with the same software you use to create sophisticated documents is more efficient and easier than using separate systems.
E-signatures aren’t going anywhere, and if you’re using a document generation solution, it’s crucial that you use e-signature alongside it. Choosing a solution that allows for painless e-signature integration will help you close deals much faster today and save you a headache down the road.
If you can, go one step further and choose a document generator with a proprietary e-signature solution that’s already integrated by default. Evaluating, implementing, and training users on two different systems is a huge commitment from both a time and financial standpoint. Since document generation and e-signature go hand in hand, it doesn’t make sense to use two different systems. Many of the documents that you generate will likely require signatures from one or more parties; find a solution that has e-signature built in so that you can create and sign your documents in one fluid motion.
Even if you’re not leveraging electronic signatures now, it’s probable that you will be in the future, and you should make sure your document generation solution supports it.
For many companies, a lot of business gets done outside of the office. It’s important to choose a document generation solution that empowers those working in the field to be able to create the documents they need to get their job done. Document generation solutions with mobile capabilities are powerful because they increase efficiency and productivity anywhere. Even if most of your business is done in the office or over email, the ability to create documents right from your phone is still an important thing to consider -- you never know when this functionality might be able to help you out of a pinch.
Start Improving Your Document Workflow Today
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current system or implement one for the first time, you now have the tools you need to find the document generation application that’s right for your business. Choose a solution that’s easy to use without compromising on functionality -- one that integrates seamlessly into your current workflows, and is able to scale to your growing business needs.
S-Docs is a 100% native document generation and e-signature solution for Salesforce. From extensive automation options to mobile compatibility, S-Docs supports the unique needs of any business. S-Docs is a powerful tool with robust functionality, and it comes with the added benefit of being built on the Salesforce platform. Being native to Salesforce means being automatically compliant with Salesforce’s most stringent security requirements, as well as being incredibly fast, since S-Docs doesn’t rely on external servers or platforms. Native Salesforce apps also mirror the look and feel of Salesforce, meaning they’re easier to learn, faster to implement, and more intuitive than their non-native counterparts.