The first step in choosing a document assembly system is to understand the various types of documents that you need to automate. Once you understand your documents, you can match the system to your needs. Essentially there are 3 categories of documents.
1) Standard Form Documents
Standard form documents, also known as batch documents, are high-volume documents that are easily automated. Examples of standard form documents include phone bills, mass-marketing letters and standard insurance policies.
Field values (i.e. name and address) may change, but the content remains largely standardized. Since no negotiation is required, the final output is usually print or PDF. Many low-end document assembly or mail merge solutions are able to create this type of document.
2) Semi-Standard Documents
The real challenge in document assembly is when you are automating semi-standard documents. These documents tend to be B2B, complex and require negotiation. Document assembly systems which ask a fixed set of questions in an absolute order are inadequate for automating these documents. As a result, many companies rely on expensive, manual drafting by legal experts.
Although there is negotiation involved with these documents, there are inherent patterns, which can be deciphered with some study. By using a powerful document assembly solution (like Exari) with an "inferencing engine," you can have the machine do the tedious work of figuring out which questions to ask, in what order, and with what dependencies. The more complex the document and its rules, the more important this capability becomes. You still have control over the layout and look of the interview, but you don't waste hours testing and debugging every new template.
3) Bespoke Documents
Bespoke or handcrafted documents are extremely complex and have no predictable negotiation patterns. No document assembly solution can fully automate these documents since their creation requires the skills of a legal expert. But an enterprise-grade document assembly system can produce an excellent first draft, providing a base for the legal department to begin fine-tuning. Once the lawyer has a good first draft, they can export the document to Word for further refining or to send to a counter-party for comment.