Improving Staff Efficiency By 40% With Document Automation

Web-MergeIf you know anything about me, you know that I love to tinker with technology. I’ve been programming computers since I was 7 years old, and I just turned 40 in March. I never get tired of learning new computer tricks to make my job easier, and to improve the efficiency of my team members. In this article, I’m REALLY excited to share with you my latest results with document automation.

I’ve personally used some new document automation tools to improve the efficiency of both me and my staff   by more than 40% when creating routine documents from templates or existing examples. For some types of documents (like client engagement letters), we have even reduced the amount of time it takes to create such documents by as much as 80% the time it used to take.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could improve your staff efficiency by that much for all the documents that you create over and over again, day in and day out? Well, I believe you too can achieve significant improvements in staff efficiency, and in the rest of this article, I’d like to show you how.

Automation Today Goes Way Beyond Just Word or PDF Documents

There are a number of document automation tools available today that are very good. Some of them are called mail merge tools, document automation tools, document assembly tools, and so on. The one I just started using is called WebMerge, and it can be found at www.WebMerge.me. The reason I chose WebMerge is because it also has the ability to integrate with InfusionSoft, and because it supports automation of more than just Word and PDF documents. WebMerge also allows you to automate the creation of Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations, too.

I also like the fact that each document template I create can be assigned a unique URL that I can share with team members to have them fill in the values and have the document generated in the format I specified in the document setup.

You Don’t Need A Computer Science Degree To Benefit From Automation

You may be thinking “That sounds great Denise, but I’m not a computer wizard like you are.” I have good news for you. Document automation used to be complicated, and you needed advanced training in order to figure it out. Times have certainly changed! It has never been easier to create powerful document templates that can be used over and over again.

All you have to do is basically replace any blanks that you would typically fill in with placeholder variable names that follow the format required by your particular document automation tool. For example, WebMerge has you use a $ (dollar sign) and CAPS in your variable names. So instead of having a blank to fill in a client’s name and address, you would replace that with $CLIENT_NAME and $CLIENT_ADDRESS, as an example.

When running the merge on the document, you will then be prompted to fill in values for each of the variables that were found in the document. Each instance of that variable then gets updated with the value that was typed in. It’s that simple! I’ll walk through an example on the next page to show you how this works.

You Can Also Include Business Logic In Your Automation

The game-changer for me in my business has been the ability to include business logic in my document templates. What I mean by “business logic” are those various questions that you answer in your head all the time that determine how you fill out a document, and with what type of wording. If-then statements can be used to specify that if one variable/question was answered a certain way, then certain wording or a certain section of a document should be included, but if it was answered another way, then the alternative section should be used instead.

Let’s look at an example. Suppose you have different types of products that you sell, and they each have different prices and features, but they all have certain refund and company policies in common. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just have one sales order document that would automatically include all the custom sections for the specific product being sold in each scenario, without having to either delete the other product sections that didn’t apply, or without having to use a separate template for each type of product?

Here is an example of what you might include within your Word (or other document) to specify that you want different wording to appear in that section depending on how the $PLAN_NAME question was answered:

Web-Merge-Code

Here is what comes with the plan you have selected:
{if $PLAN_NAME == ‘Silver’ or $PLAN_NAME == ‘silver’} 

The Silver Plan includes the following:
Text about the Silver plan goes here 
{elseif $PLAN_NAME == ‘Gold’ or $PLAN_NAME == ‘gold’}

The Gold Plan includes the following: Text about the Gold plan goes here {elseif $PLAN_NAME == ‘Platinum’ or $PLAN_NAME == ‘platinum’}

The Platinum Plan includes the following: Text about the Platinum plan goes here {/if} 

In this example, when the document gets created, the text that gets put into the final document will depend upon the value that was specified for the $PLAN_NAME variable.

With repetitive documents that you and/or your staff create on a regular basis, there are always a series of steps like I’ve described above where the document has to be customized for each scenario. Imagine how much efficiency you could gain if you had someone document the human logic just one time into a template, and then used that template to automatically create all future versions of the document with a couple of clicks.

I hope that you are starting to see that the ability to include advanced human logic within your routine documents can be a HUGE time- saver. Try this type of document automation for yourself. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!!

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