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Optimize Workflow Efficiency with Document Automation

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Bill Gates once indicated automation applied to an efficient process will magnify its efficiency and when applied to an inefficient one will have the opposite effect.

Regardless of the type of business or organization you are in, several processes including document generation are repetitive and integral to getting work done. Repeating the same process (over and over) does not result in efficiency. Besides, some processes may be more complicated than others and you require document automation that allows for the timely completion of tasks while minimizing any errors.

Optimizing Workflow Efficiency by Implementing Automation

When faced with overwhelmingly repeated processes, organizations should aim at improving their workflow efficiency. Streamlining workflow is important in getting processes right the first time around and automation is key to this process. Moreover, a Mckinsey report indicates that over 45% of today’s processes in organizations can be automated resulting in over $2 trillion savings in terms of wages.

For instance, when less time is spent creating and sending documents across departments for approval or re-editing them (due to errors), the more productive the organization can get. In this case, you can introduce document automation software like Windward that makes creating and sharing documents quick and simple.

Benefits of Optimized Workflow Efficiency:

Understanding Workflow Automation

Workflow automation seeks to solve problems arising from inefficient and time-wasting processes by fostering and enhancing collaborative processes. This turns manual and time-intensive tasks into smoother processes that enable the growth of your business. It can include expediting ticket resolution, customer on-boarding, invoice processing (creating documents), streamlining marketing campaigns, and more.

Automation of business processes allows both teams and individual users to save time and improve their efficiency. You need to analyze processes in real-time and improve their efficiency as indicated above. For instance, you can create documents that are consistent and compliant with ease by automating the document generation process.

You can take charge of how work is done with workflow automation. Transform time-consuming processes to be completed in a few clicks and watch the next logical steps automatically happen. As a result, you can free employees’ time to allow them to focus on things that matter. For example, let’s see about document creation process in an organization below.

The Outdated (Manual) Document Creation Workflow

Administration departments are in charge of applications, contracts, invoicing, policy updates, renewals, verification, on-boarding, among other things. All these documents require multiple steps to be undertaken and result in quite a lot of paperwork.

For instance, the creation of contracts in the past required one to acquire, review, and cross-reference information stored across several databases to ensure the proper data population. You need to manually input the new client’s information and any other terms that have been agreed upon into a Word document. After this, you need to convert this document to PDF file, and either email it or mail it to your client to sign it.

Typically, half a day would be sent on the preparation of a single contract booklet.

Challenges:

Document Automation Benefits

Document automation (DocAuto) eliminates most of these above steps. All someone needs to do is create a template to populate customized data onto it (using conditional logic functionality and tags) and the contract is generated in your desired output format and sent automatically to your client electronically for them to sign and approve.

Documents that can be automated include handling of requests (e.g. those related to counsel retention and vendor contracts among others), drafting of documents such as nondisclosure agreements, and developer agreements among others. Standard contracts, whether pertaining to individual clients or corporate, can be automated to eliminate the need for creating new documents every time. Instead, one can simply fill out a form, and contracts are automatically generated and sent to the relevant parties for them to sign. Once countersigned, contracts can be automatically archived resulting in an audit trail that is secure and swift.

The ability to automate daily recurrent processes like creating contracts increases overall productivity and workflow efficiency by allowing for more work to be done using fewer manual procedures.

In essence, users can halve the number of hours you spend on processing contracts and forms.  Here are some benefits:

Testing the Document Automation Process

It is important to test your new automation workflow before adopting it to ensure that it is functioning properly. Automation testing helps you ensure that all-important processes and their corresponding key persons are included in it.

It’s also important that those directly interacting with the document creation workflow get to test it as they are best placed to spot any potential pitfalls. It would be unfortunate to implement an automated workflow only for it to cause more harm than good within the organization.

Accomplish More with Automated Document Generation

The best document automation Word software allows you to access data from various sources and generate customized documents automatically in your preferred format. Business documents, therefore, become data-driven, and such automation improves workflow efficiency at the workplace. In summary:

Your organization stands to benefit from a great document automation system and improve your workflow efficiency in the process.  Our free Guide to Evaluating Document Automation Solutions can help your research.  Or, learn more about how Windward works 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

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any 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

The Generate Code tool in the designer 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. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

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

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

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, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

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

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

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Genesis Abel

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