The Sweet Spot of Document Assembly
Things have been rather busy at Exari during the last 12 months. Our customer list, user base, and revenues have doubled (or more) and there’s no sign of a slow-down any time soon. Which begs the question: what’s going on? Why are so many people embracing document assembly now when they didn’t in the past?
The answer, we think, is that web-based document assembly tools have matured to the point where it’s now practical to automate more than just consumer-oriented, high-volume, fill-in-the-blanks, standard forms. People are discovering that a large chunk of their business-to-business deals fall into a new category of “semi-standard” contracts. They’re not standard form. But they do follow predictable patterns of negotiation and drafting. They do follow rules. And this is the new sweet spot for automation.
Before now, automation didn’t extend much beyond consumer scenarios (think bank statements and consumer finance contracts). Back-office, standard form systems were built, and – because there was never any negotiation – they worked just fine.
But as soon as there are any negotiations (which is true for most business to business dealings), the standard form approach falls over (typically those systems are not designed to handle optional clauses, renumbering, cross references, etc). So, businesses have been forced to do those deals manually, in Word, which is both slow and costly.
Not any more. Advanced, web-based, document assembly systems now make it possible – and practical – to automate many more business contracts, as long as they follow predictable patterns of negotiation. Businesses are now seeking out these semi-standard sweet spots, so that deals can be closed quickly, without the costs and delays of manual drafting.
The best examples are in small and mid-sized business segments, for example, business lending documentation, business insurance contracts, sales proposals and contracts, services procurement, and commercial leasing. These are complex documents which, without automation, need to be prepared or reviewed by legal experts. But with advanced document assembly, all the predictable options and changes can be automated, and many deals can be completed by front line staff.