What is document automation?
With the increase of remote working over the past months, this could be an ideal time to introduce document automation to your business
Much of what we’ve written in the past on topics such as Zetadocs and the transformational power of automation has referenced the standard working model of most offices.
One aspect of that model which advances such as document automation helped to facilitate was a gradual rise in the prevalence of remote working. In the years leading up to 2020, a slew of statistics indicated that remote working was becoming increasingly popular, and these included the following:
- In 2019, 61% of global companies operated some form of remote working policy
- The number of companies offering home working in the United States tripled in the years between 1996 and 2016
- According to the International Workplace Group (IWG) 2019 Global Workspace Survey, 85% of the 15,000 global businesses surveyed stated that workplace flexibility led to an increase in productivity
The pace of this shift was massively accelerated by the pandemic and the workplace restrictions it prompted. While much of the UK came out of the ‘second lockdown’ in early December, there remains uncertainty about what is ahead.
One of the few things which probably can be taken for granted when thinking about the potential ‘new normal’ is that the shift to remote working which was already underway as an evolutionary process has now morphed into something of a revolution.
Back in June several of the world’s largest companies announced plans to make the switch to home working permanent to some degree or another.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that up to 50% of Facebook employees would be working from home in the next five to ten years, while Twitter stated that some people would be allowed to work from home ‘forever’ if they wished to. Plus, the CEO of Shopify announced that most employees would be working remotely post 2021.
In the UK specifically, a survey of almost 1,000 companies carried out by the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that 74% were planning to maintain the increase in home working instigated in 2020, while 50 of the largest UK companies told the BBC in August that they had absolutely no plans to return all of their staff to the office.
The model which is likely to emerge once the virus has finally been vanquished is one which combines remote working with office working in whatever proportion is right for each individual business and the people it employs. The flexibility, which an approach like this will depend upon, is exactly what is offered by products like Zetadocs, and the period of stasis which continues to be imposed on many businesses is perhaps the perfect time to introduce a process like document automation.
So, what is document automation?
In simple terms, document automation is a process which utilizes the power of digital technology to automate the complete life cycle of a document, from creation to storage and reuse. The document automation software makes use of existing documents of all kinds to create automated templates which can then be used in the future.
In other words, once the work of creating a highly complex document such as a contract has been done then the document automation software can be used to create further documents of the same type quickly and simply.
This process can be used to create templates for everything from the aforementioned contracts to purchase agreements, leases, licences and any other kind of document which your company uses on a repeat basis, with each version of the document having to be altered to reflect the specific usage.
Free Up Time
Once the template for a document has been created using the software, different finished documents can then be created simply by working through a simple questionnaire which gathers the details which need to be amended in this specific case.
In addition, the software itself can be used to leverage information which is already a part of internal systems, such as employee profiles or customer data bases, as well as external sources.
In all cases the use of document automation offers two initial advantages. The first of these is the freeing up of working time which would otherwise be spent on repetitive and frankly boring tasks such as scanning, filing and manually entering information. Once document creation has been automated, members of your workforce will be freed up to fulfil their potential and concentrate on your core business activities.
The second hugely positive impact of document automation is the consistency it offers. When every document must be created from scratch every time it is needed then human errors are pretty much bound to impinge. When the documents in question are vital to the work which your business does, mistakes of this kind can potentially cause huge financial and reputational damage. When document automation is utilized, the details have to be correct just once, and that successful template is then applied to a potentially limitless number of documents.
A key role which document automation will play in the permanent shift to more flexible working patterns lies in the collaboration it enables.
The document, once created, will be much more than just a digital version of a hard copy. It will be a fully interactive file which can be accessed using any device at any time and from any place, enabling employees scattered across a wide geographical area to collaborate as simply and effectively as if they were sat across the desk from one another.
The step-by-step nature of the automation process means that complex and highly technical documents can be created by employees who would otherwise lack the technical knowledge to do so.
Across larger organizations in particular, this can have the impact of levelling the playing field and encouraging wider collaboration and input from team members who would previously have been prevented from engaging by the technical nature of the content.
The increasing tendency of businesses to use the cloud for storing documents lends itself to document automation during which every relevant copy of each version of a document will automatically be backed up to the cloud for future reference.
As well as making the creation of documents quicker and simpler, this will help to speed up the process of tracking down any documents when they need to be referenced in the future.
Time to automate
The ease and simplicity of document automation makes it the obvious choice for any forward-thinking business which deals with documentation. By streamlining the working processes used by your employees, your business will not only be making their life easier, it will be saving money, improving customer service and enhancing overall delivery.
The suite of tools offered by a system like Zetadocs brings automation to a range of activities, from expense reporting to invoicing and collections, and the future of business is one in which this embrace of technology will be the norm, rather than any kind of exception.
Get in touch with us today to discover more about how our tools can help your business.