The benefits of document automation are clear for companies that produce volumes of sales documents like offers and contracts. The most vital ones are:
- Faster closing of deals
- Improved document quality
- Guaranteed document compliance
- Automated, real-life-like workflows
- Centralized, more powerful document production tools, for boosted productivity.
Some solutions also bring additional benefits: automated localization of language and cultural adaptations, integrated e-signing, and advanced integrations with external apps like email and Slack.
But how to find the solution that fits your needs?
In fact, there is a myriad of solutions to choose from and as we know, one size never fits all. Some solutions work better for smaller companies, some for bigger. Some suit companies with simple requirements, some those who are looking to automate just every step possible… and so forth.
In this article, we outline the main aspects to consider when choosing one that will serve YOU best.
1) You cannot get what you want ‘till you know what you want
Before setting your eyes on any solution available, look at your own document processes. What are the biggest challenges with them? What are you looking to accomplish with automation? Is it:
- easier workload for your salespeople?
- better document quality?
- more unified branding, perhaps through a variety of geographic markets?
- more secure approval chain?
- or something else?
Identifying your exact needs and making an initial requirements list helps you reap the rewards to the fullest. Whatever your target, give some thought at this point already also to anticipated costs, implementation time, requirements for using professional services, and overall alignment to your working practices.
2) Gathering information
Now you have your initial targets in place. Next, just go and get a solid overall picture of how to reach them. Look around for information in analyst reports, for instance: what can the solutions available do now? Where are they going to evolve to?
If possible, find out as well what solutions other companies have adopted. Look for ones that are likely to have similar use cases as yours. Your competitors, in particular, may make a good benchmark.
Before approaching any vendor, it is good to revise your requirements list against the findings of your research. To complete it, you can utilize the MoSCoW prioritization technique: put in order by importance for your solution the
- Could-haves, and
3) Comparing options
It is time to see what the market offers and start evaluating the solutions by document automation vendors.
However, the sheer number of options can seem overwhelming, so selection is often the hardest part. The best thing to do is just to start by looking at relevant and successful case studies, downloading relevant white papers, attending webinars – and comparing different vendors’ feature lists.
If possible, look for help also from outside parties. Do you have a CRM implementation partner? Speak with them. Or speak with just anybody you trust who have got their hands dirty deploying, maintaining or using such solutions. They can give you indispensable insights on what a given vendor can really deliver versus what their website says.
4) …And the final selection is…
With all the preparations done well, the moment has come to shortlist your vendors of choice and contact them. Tell them your troubles and targets. Outline clearly what you need – not only in terms of features today but how you see your needs and expected usage to evolve as time passes.
- How can they continue supporting you after deployment?
- Are their financials and future prospects on a sound basis?
- What is their partner network like?
- Do your company cultures and working practices look compatible?
It pays also to find out about some finer details behind the features and product structure, for example:
- How is the delivery of generated documents handled? You will need to ensure that you get the documents in the right hands timely.
- Storage after document generation. You will need to find and access the generated documents afterward to be able to check the content or ensure compliance.
- Structure of your vendor’s solution. Does it come in modules? Are they integrated properly for easy management? Are there hidden costs for additional modules you will need?
- How do the key features work – for example, if you are considering electronic signing as a part of your solution? Does it offer more than just signatures? Does it connect properly to your workflows? Does it offer the capability to strongly authenticate signers, if needed?
The golden rule: think long-term
The bottom line is, it is difficult to think of anybody rolling out document automation as a short-term solution. It is a long-term investment. Therefore, it pays to focus your attention on what drives your long-term ROI from the solution.
Why not go and see if our document automation solutions can provide you with just that – or read more in our white paper on the topic.