So many business processes have been streamlined through automation.
We’re all aware of the benefits of automation, we do so much of it! Our network monitoring, backups, integrity and heath checks, spam filtering, intrusion detection, software builds and unit tests are all largely already automated. But one area that often seems to be left out in the cold is the automation of documents and documentation.
The document assembly/automation space has come a long way in the last decade, particularly with systems that are founded on XML and are designed so that they can integrate with necessary upstream and downstream systems.
Clearly I’m biased; it’s what we at Exari have committed ourselves to doing for over 15 years. But I’d like you to take a moment and imagine what a superhero you could become in your company if you were able to achieve the following:
Sales – A sales inquiry come in from your website. The lead wants more information. By filling in a simple, relevant online interview the prospect can receive a customized business case or quote for your offering. It would be correctly branded, relevant to the prospect, and up-to-date with the latest product information, pricing and discounts. An ROI analysis could be included based on the gathered information, giving the prospect even more compelling reasons to buy. Sample usage and support terms could also be delivered. Tell me that’s not going to excite your sales staff.
Software configuration and documentation – Your lead has been converted and you’ve made the sale. (Congrats!) They’ve paid for your software and are ready to have it installed and configured. Your product has a myriad of modules, configuration and installation options. With document automation, an online interview combined with the previous sales information can gather information about the specific environments, required options and configuration parameters. From this you can deliver customized installation, configuration files and operation guides - and potentially even the configured software itself! I mean...
Legal – Do your product and service contracts still need to be approved by legal? Sure, for unique or ad hoc transactions, legal needs to be deeply involved. But what about for standard deals – deals that are predictable and have a finite number of controlled variations? We all recognize that there are repeatable patterns in all common transactions. The business rules around these types of documents should be built into the process for generating them. There should be a single source for such documents with up-to-date terms, pricing and conditions. Your business users should be able to generate these straightforward documents without legal intervention. With automation, it's entirely possible!
So next time you start thinking about how you’re going to make an impact by improving business processes, don’t forget about automating your documents. You may just end up a superhero.
I'd love to hear from you at @liptonj.