However you define yourself—software provider, solution developer, or ISV—there’s no denying that:
Whether you’re a big fish or an agile minnow, it’s harder to get noticed, more difficult to “wow” your customers, and nearly impossible to distinguish yourself from the pack.
Documents are the output your customers rely on. They are the last step in your client's business process and the first document their own customers see. Unfortunately, too many software companies ignore how valuable attractive document design can be.
The trouble begins when software companies focus solely on the user interface and data input, instead of on perfecting the initial customer experience. Sadly, by the time the engineers get to address the output process, the release date is just around the corner, and the VP of Engineering is freaking out. The result is a substandard feature that you “promise to upgrade in the next version.” Sound familiar? While generating professional looking documents may feel like a small part of what you do, it’s a crucial detail that you can’t afford to ignore.
Upgrading your document automation solution is the single best way to attract and keep customers—and to set yourself apart from your competitors.
To prove to your clients that you are the best in the industry, you need to be able to show them why you’re so good at what you do. Document automation software can make that happen, for example, by vastly improving your demo process. When your sales reps finish an hour-long presentation by creating reports from scratch and within minutes, the impact on your prospects is powerful and lasting.
While you pride yourself in your company’s behind-the-scenes operations, your customers experience your company and product visually first. Good looking, well-organized documents are what enable them to turn data into information, which they can then turn into actionable knowledge. Aspect Security, an application security provider, found this out firsthand. Aspect was using a basic reporting tool, and the output wasn’t up to the task. The software “generated lots of text boxes instead of a real table. Our reports are complex and have to look professional. We simply couldn’t achieve that,” said Arshan Dabirsiaghi, Application Security Engineer. Aspect Security transformed this limitation by switching to a tool that allowed for highly customized layouts, fonts and formatting. Not only do their users generate documents in 1/10th of the time, but they’re able to showcase their results in beautiful, professional reports.
Of course, you know it isn’t enough to simply showcase data. Your customers also need to be able to analyze and give that data context in order to make effective business decisions. But who has the time and resources to create document automation tools from scratch? It makes more sense to upgrade your document designer so that it’s linked with an established analytical solution like Microsoft® Office. Using Excel’s built-in analysis tools, your template can run equations and perform statistical analysis on any data set.
It’s easy to get caught up in figuring out how to present words and numbers in a straightforward, linear manner. Sometimes, however, the best and clearest way to display data is to use visual elements such as charts, graphs and other eye-catching graphics.
The right document automation tool can make all the difference between a jumble of facts and information your customers can act upon.
Features like shapes, photos and editable charting will give your customers visually dynamic reports that outline key concepts and illustrate current trends.
Your customers are as busy as you are, and they appreciate everything you do to help them save time. That’s why the best document generation now enables automated report delivery. With scheduled and auto-generated documents, your customers get the info they need WHEN they need it and in the format they desire.
An effective document automation solution does more than simply cut costs. It also dramatically cuts costs during the document creation process—which can have a tremendous effect on your bottom line. That translates to an impressive Return on Investment (ROI). Take a look at the experience of Byggeweb/Docia (formerly Backbone Digital Systems), developer of collaboration and management products for the building and construction industry. One of the biggest expenses in the document creation process was their design tool’s ease-of-use, so they upgraded their document automation solution to one that could quickly create individually designed templates for each customer. “Compared to systems where both layout and data must be coded, as we did before, the process of creating a new report is at least five times faster,” said Michael Bjerregaard Pedersen, who was head of the implementation.
With the right document automation solution, the process is more efficient in numerous ways, leading to additional cost savings for your organization and also for your customers.
Project-focused logistics software leader HAL, Inc. upgraded its reporting component and was able to pass along savings to its customers because of the streamlined document automation process.
“Our previous solution was time-consuming and required us to deploy an entire report set to correct a single report. The ability to deploy single reports is much better and a huge benefit,” said Chuck Hanebuth, CEO.
Enterprise document automation is traditionally an iterative process. Template design users go back and forth with programmers multiple times to get their templates coded and tagged. This game often creates a bottleneck that leads to huge expense and a significant IS/IT resource drain.
Upgrading to a solution that uses a standard design interface like Microsoft Office will eliminate this painful expense. Working in a familiar tool will give your business analysts the freedom they need to design and update document templates and give your software engineers the uninterrupted time they need to complete your next amazing, market-dominating release.
When you upgrade to a document automation solution that allows your customers to run or create their own reports without relying on you, the ISV, it puts more power where it belongs: in the hands of your customers.
Plus, when your customers are generating their own reports, it frees up your time. Your company can then focus on your core business, where it makes the most sense to put your time and energy.
Add that to cost savings, improved efficiency, automated processes, flexible formatting, and vibrant report design, and you’ve got a serious competitive advantage.
Your competitors are working harder than ever to launch high-performing software that conquers a never-growing share of your market. They may even be trying to steal away a few of your customers as you read this. Don’t let it happen because of a mediocre reporting component. Great document automation offers the key boost that propels you past your competitors.
Upgrading your document automation capabilities is one of the quickest ways to get the most bang for your development buck. In many cases, you can install a ready-to-run system that will work with your current setup.
We invite you to check out the Windward Embedded Solution. It not only delivers on the eight advantages in this paper, but it simplifies how you add document automation functionality into your new or existing software application—in as little as 11 lines of code.
At Windward Studios, we believe that document automation should be simple—not overly complex, tedious, and technical. We create software applications that simplify how businesses design and generate professional reports and documents. Windward provides a unique experience using Microsoft Office to format and edit report templates, and the sophisticated engine pulls data from multiple sources and merges it into those documents. It’s a hassle-free experience that can actually make creating documents fun.