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7 Most Popular Document Automation Myths Busted

Industry

For anyone who has had to create major documents like legal agreements, proposals, and annual financial reports, there is no doubt that these are painstaking activities that take up a lot of time.  Wouldn’t you be happy if there was a way you could do it faster and easier? Automation presents that solution along with other advantages, and yet many organizations still do not employ it in their document generation process. Why?

Often the reason something gets rejected is because of misconceptions. In this case, some myths abound that discourage people from automating. Let us take a look at some of those myths.

Automation Software Cannot Generate Complex Documents

In fact, it is quite the opposite! Document automation software can create even the most complex proposals and other documents in a matter of minutes. All you need to do initially is to just connect it to just one or even multiple data sources and design the template in your favorite programs like MS Office and take advantage of conditional logic to customize the documents for future use. You can automate the whole process and create hundreds of documents with just a single template.

In a nutshell, creating complex documents becomes child’s play!

Jobs Will be Lost Once Automation Takes Root

Many people worry that if computers begin doing the jobs of humans, then human employees will be of no use; however, this is just a myth.  Many companies have automated to the advantage of both the company and its employees.  The automation process is about efficiency—you may use a computer to type instead of a pen an paper to write.  Typing is just writing but faster and clearer.  Automation brings about efficiency and frees up time to focus on important work instead of repetitive processes.

Automation compliments and speeds up your employees’ efforts and does not replace them!

Special Equipment is Needed to Access Documents When You Automate

No doubt, since you are going paperless, you need a device to be able to access the documents, but that is just as far as we go in agreeing to the statement because in whole that is simply a myth. The devices needed are not special. A laptop, desktop, mobile phone, and tablet can all be used to access documents as long as they have network access. Document automation actually makes it easier to access documents wherever you are, without having to be in the building where the document is stored.

Only Top-level Management Can Have Access to Automated Documents

Automated documents are designed for use within the organization, therefore, anyone who is authorized to handle particular documents would have access to the documents. For example, anyone in the legal department would have access to contract documents while the sales team would have access to sales proposals. True though, there are some restrictions that can be set so that sensitive documents do not end up in the wrong hands or being misused. That is only being cautious just like you would lock up sensitive documents in a filing cabinet.

You Need Special Training and a Lot of Time in Learning to Use Document Generation Software

Document generation software is designed just like any office program like Word, Excel, and Outlook, so it just takes a few minutes to get used to it. It is intended to be user-friendly, therefore complications are avoided. You may need to get used to a few features of the software, but it certainly does not need prior knowledge of programming. The software integrates into the already existing programs on an ordinary computer so if you are used to Microsoft software, you would still be able to use the same programs with minimal adjustments needed. So, you save a lot of time and resources creating documents in an already familiar environment.

Automation is Too Expensive for Small Businesses

Small or big businesses using manual processes are already spending a lot of money and time generating documents manually. A lot of human resources are tied up in repetitive processes that take up a long time to complete. Automation software is an investment in empowering efficiency that in the long run saves time and money.

Think of how much money could be lost if a legal document has a few human errors that cost you a business deal, yet with document automation, you are sure there will be no errors and you can deliver the final document faster than you would if you had to generate it manually.

You Need Handwritten Signatures on Your Documents

The developers of document automation tools already thought about this and they have affected digital signatures. These are recognized just as well as handwritten signatures and the idea is to ensure that they are restricted to only authorized individuals. Electronic signatures are being used widely in different industries, but people do not notice that they are actually using electronic signatures. They remain just as safe as the other signatures and ease the process of having documents approved.

It is important that such myths are busted so that organizations can see document automation for what it really is. There is a lot of unfounded information that is spread about automation and that is keeping organizations away from technology that will actually improve the efficiency of the business and ensure that less time is spent on something that may be important but can actually be done automatically and faster and like every business would like to hear, it actually saves time and money and helps you make more out of a small investment.

Read more about how Windward handles document automation here.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Provides a display of all the tags in the template, structures as they are placed in the template. Provides an easy way to see the structure, go to any tag, and see the properties of a tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

Designer (fka AutoTag) Generate Code tool allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables in your .NET or Java project. The process is quick, shortens delivery time and helps alleviate any bumps in the road.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in the template are carried over to XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will be pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, ot the properties in the parent.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

When Windward is merging the data into a template, it process the template handling each tag in order, and the tags can pull from different datasources. This allows the select in a tag to use data from other datasources in the select.

Genesis Abel

This blog was written by:_
Genesis Abel

For over 10 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation platform that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. Proudly located in Boulder, Colorado, Windward Studios is the premier solution for developers and business users adding reporting and document generation capabilities to their applications in over 70 countries around the world.

© 2019 Windward Studios Inc.

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