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What is Document Automation? 9 Initial Steps to Get Started

What is Document Automation? 9 Initial Steps to Get Started
Bitrix24 Team
May 27, 2022
Last updated: May 27, 2022

Is there anything more frustrating than having an elite team of workers bogged down in repetitive, time-consuming administrative tasks? We will open the door to techniques that can turn your slow, error-prone team on its head with nine easy steps to get started.

For a webinar that discusses questions like what is document automation and much more, check out Bitrix24’s video on CRM documents and client automation. 

1. Identify areas to automate

With the question “what is document automation?”, the first port of call is defining which documents you can automate. If you’re new to the game, you might think that some areas of your work simply aren’t appropriate for automation. We’re here to tell you that everything can be automated to a greater or lesser extent. 

Legal docs

The last thing you want when writing up official contracts is a last-minute scramble to make sure you’ve got your compliance covered. Using templates with pre-approved boilerplate language can save you a wealth of time and stress — all you need to do is input the names, dates, locations, and costs, and you’re ready to go.

Quotes and invoices

Take the guesswork out of your billing processes by connecting your quotes and invoices to both your CRM and your product line. Rather than digging into the details every time you need to produce a document, you can choose all the relevant details and be ready in no time. Next, send it over with a pre-written email and get to work on your more creative tasks.

HR documents

It’s not just your customer-facing efforts that can be automated. Save time on your day-to-day human resources tasks by allowing your workers to do a bit of the work themselves. We’re not talking about the creation of entire documents. All they have to do is fill in a form and their holiday, business trip, and expenses requests can be created in seconds.

2. Document workflow automation for increased consistency

One of the key benefits of document automation software is to improve efficiency, but it requires a small amount of organization in the beginning. 

Workflows are crucial to quality control as they include all the steps you’ll need to tick every box. With project management software, you can create templates with steps such as creation, review, modifications, final check, and sending the completed document to your client. With a solid process in place, you can massively reduce your margins for error and save your team the bother of having to remember each step. 

Dependencies are a great response to the question “what is document automation?”. When your team completes one stage of your workflow, the next is automatically assigned to the relevant worker with no need for time-consuming emails or phone calls. 

At the end of the chain, you as the manager will give the green light to send your client-ready documents, safe in the knowledge they are up to your standards.

3. Use documents that sync across devices and users

What is document automation without the right software to do it? The actual tools usually aren’t too complicated (think word processing and presentations) but they need to have the right features that let you get the most out of your document automation software. 

With cloud-based collaborative files, any updates made will be immediately synced across your whole team. No more email back-and-forths with countless versions of the same thing, you can even work simultaneously on the same document in remote teams. Once a nice-to-have, but now a necessity, mobile accessibility allows you to collaborate even when you’re on the go — great for traveling sales teams.

Synced documents also allow for a rapid review process, whether you’re in the office or not. Upon approval, your creative teams can receive a notification telling them it’s A-OK and time to move onto the next step in your document workflow automation. 

Documents created from your CRM, such as invoices, mean you don’t even have to open up an editor. Furthermore, all your information is stored on the cloud, so your team can access it from wherever they are, with a reliable record saved for all to see. 

4. Create document templates

With automation, you want things to be fast, accurate, and practical, which is why one of the most common answers to the question “what is document automation?” is to set templates. You might spend a bit more time than normal creating your first iteration, but now you’ve got a reliable file, you’ll save a huge amount of time going forward.

Your document templates don’t need to be set in stone. When changes need to be made, by all means do it, just save your template with the same file name so your team starts using it naturally. It’s likely that you’ll need a repository with a range of templates to use, and when you’re creating a new one, you can duplicate an existing template, rather than starting from scratch. 

Creating templates isn’t just about full documents, though. With the best CRMs, you can save snippets — text templates that you can include in emails at the click of a button. Therefore, instead of having to type repetitive chunks out manually and potentially make mistakes, you can populate an email with pre-approved segments that you know will get your message across.


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5. Keep your branding on point

Set your designers the task of creating slick document templates as a base on which to create documents. It could be as simple as letter headers for one-off announcements, but you can also format the entirety of a how-to guide, a customer care info pack, or an internal onboarding presentation. 

Your logo is the most important part, so place it as a header at the top of your documents as an instantly recognizable marker of your brand. Then you can add in a bit of color to liven up your message, rather than a simple black-on-white text document. You should also consider the font you want to use. Times New Roman is tested and true, but is that what your brand is all about? Once approved, you can fire out classy, branded documents of all kinds to your clients.

Consistency plays a huge role here. If a client sees a different format every time they receive a document, they’ll start to suspect a lack of professionalism. Document automation software will churn out the same style every time, with only the relevant details changed. 

6. Integrate your docs with other business tools

What is document automation with integrations?

Forms are the best way to gather client data. Add them as widgets to your website, connect them with your social media, and use them for your sales. Your customers fill in the data, which you can then use to create your documents. 

A customer relationship manager is where all the client details gathered from forms are stored. It is a database that underpins all your sales efforts and integrates with documents such as invoices and marketing campaigns.

Communication tools are essential for getting your message to your customers. You can automatically populate emails, SMS, and social media messages with data from your CRM and pre-approved text snippets for seamless communication.

Analytics give you detailed reports on how well your documents are doing. Integrating analytics is the first step to assuring the success of your work, from the time your team spends on the creation to how effective they are at converting leads into customers.

7. Automating your quotes and invoices

When asking yourself “what is document automation”, it’s easy to focus on content-driven files, but quickly creating branded quotes and invoices is a fantastic time-saver and money-maker. 

With the right tools, document processing automation will let you quickly draw up quotes with a few customizable fields to choose products, quantities and more. Just a few clicks of a button and you’re ready to send. This frees up an extraordinary amount of time when you’re dealing with multiple clients. 

Start with your look. You can design all your quotes and invoices to be in line with your brand, and create a consistent style that is immediately recognizable. Logos and tone of voice are the big ones here.

You can add on all kinds of extra features, such as special discounts for new customers, and link it up with your CRM so you don’t have to find their acquisition date manually. International companies can also benefit from fields that automatically populate local taxation procedures and currencies, which helps you maintain compliance without hours of research (and a great deal of stress). 

8. Automate your client communication

The benefits of business document automation go beyond simply creating the document itself. 

Let’s take quotes and invoices as an example. Once you’ve customized your fields and produced your document, you can then automate how you deliver it to your clients. Whether it’s by email or SMS, you can add a step into your workflow and make it part of your document automation process. 

If you’re working on a document that needs feedback, you can open up permissions so your clients can suggest changes within the document itself. This helps to save complicated bullet point instructions in an email you can easily lose track of. Instead, you’ll get a notification that takes you to the document to accept or reject changes.

So when you’re thinking “what is document automation?”, don’t just limit it to automation of the document itself. Consider what happens before or after and look for more ways to streamline your workflow.

9. Apply analytics to your documents

But what is document automation ultimately for? Yes, it’s great for cutting down time and increasing consistency in your work, but all of this ultimately leads to increased revenue. And when it comes to measuring your efforts, you need to get into the nitty gritty of analytics. 

Time tracking software allows you to measure how long automated documents take to complete compared to manual methods, and you can then reinvest your time saved more productively.

In a completely different way, you can analyze the performance of your online documents using web analytics. Find out how long your users stayed on a page, which ones clicked through and which ones bounced, and draw up automatic reports that you can analyze and use to improve.

Integrating analytics takes the benefits of document automation beyond freeing up time to be used in more productive ways. It becomes the bedrock of measuring your own success which you can present to stakeholders as evidence of your progress.

With these nine steps, we’re sure you’ve answered the question “what is document automation?”, and you’ll already have a few ideas in mind about how you can take a more efficient approach. 

However, without the right tools, your automation won’t get you anywhere. For maximum impact, we’d recommend an all-in-one tool like Bitrix24 that connects your document processing automation to your CRM, project management software, and workflows. This way, everything is integrated from the get-go and you can focus on one single platform.

And the best part is, you can reap the benefits of document automation and more without breaking the bank. Sign up today for free and discover how Bitrix24 can streamline your creative work processes. 

FAQ


What does it mean to automate a document?

Document automation means using practical, effective shortcuts to speed up your document creation process, cut out mistakes, and make an accurate, consistent product. It uses algorithms to draw information from a variety of sources to your document to avoid excess manual work.

How do I create an automated document?

The basic steps to creating an automated document include:
  • Installing relevant software.
  • Gathering data.
  • Choosing your document type.
  • Integrating your document with the data.
  • Creating workflows.
  • Iteration and improvement.


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