Creating documents is a vital process for pretty much every business. Whether it be a report, invoice, contract, proposal, or even just a courtesy letter to a supplier, there are a million and one different reasons why you may need to create a document in your day-to-day operations. However, doing so is often not as straightforward or as efficient as you’d like it to be.
Not only can document generation take up a considerable amount of resources by consuming employee time, but it can quite easily become a considerable bottleneck in your business processes. This can result in reduced productivity as well as delays, errors, and inefficiency that get in the way of business growth.
When we talk about efficiency in the context of document generation, we aren’t just talking about speed. We are also referring to accuracy and consistency – two key factors that you need to promote if you want to effectively scale your operations. As such, an efficient document generation process will enable you to bring turnaround times down, minimize those pesky errors, and deliver a consistent experience to the people that matter most – your customers.
Moreover, this will free up your employees to focus on more value-added tasks that will deliver more benefits to your business, rather than being lost in the weeds with manual document creation. With all of this in mind, we have created a blog post that will guide you through six time-saving tips that will help to streamline your document generation process. Let’s get into it.
1. Standardize Your Documents
First things first, you really need to get to work on standardizing your documents. This means creating a uniform layout for your documents that not only simplifies the creation process but ensures consistency within all of your business communications. This will likely be music to the ears of your brand managers.
In addition, by coming up with standardized criteria for each of your documents, employees will no longer need to ponder how to structure their work or where to include specific information.
You’re effectively eliminating the guesswork, which reduces errors and increases overall efficiency.
2. Use Templates
Once you have a standardized document process and you know what you want them to look like (structure, font, style, branding), you can go ahead and start making templates. These templates will serve as the starting foundations every time you or one of your employees starts to create a document.
This has many benefits. Aside from the obvious time-saving advantages, templates ensure that all of the mandatory information is present. For example, your business contact details, headers, branding, or even industry disclaimers can all be put into a template. You can create templates for any number of document types, which will be a major time investment up front, but one that will pay off relatively quickly as efficiency spikes.
This enables the person creating the document to just fill in the variable data, and then they are good to go. Furthermore, templates ensure the consistency of your brand and also drastically reduce the chance of human error, which is always a good thing.
3. Employ Automation Software
In the digital age, automation has very quickly become the name of the game, driving quantifiable business value.
After all, why waste countless employee hours and company resources on a repetitive task if you can get a machine/computer program to do it for you?
From automatically populating fields with customer data to scheduling and creating documents when specific conditions are met (such as automatic invoice creation at the end of a contract, or a customized price quote following a sales call), automation software can make a world of difference when it comes to business efficiency.
4. Integrate with Existing Systems
As a modern business, you probably already have a plethora of software solutions that you use to keep things running smoothly. Perhaps you use a CRM to help keep tabs on your sales prospects, an ERP to manage your resources, or an HRM to ensure the needs of your employees are continually met.
Now, imagine if you could integrate document generation software with all of these systems so they could communicate seamlessly with one another. You’d have a blended, efficient ecosystem that would work like a well-oiled machine.
The good news is that this is very much a reality in the modern world as most of the leading software solutions offer integrations that could see you boost your document creation efficiency tenfold.
5. Make Use of Collaboration Tools
If you ask any successful business leader, they will probably agree that collaboration and teamwork are two of the most important things you need to foster if you want to build a healthy, thriving organization. Yet, this is a task easier said than done in a time where remote/hybrid work is so prevalent.
Fortunately, cloud-based collaboration tools help to bridge these gaps and overcome the challenges associated with distributed workforces – yes, even if your employees are in the same time zone. For instance, many of the leading document creation software solutions offer real-time collaboration. This means that multiple people can work on the same document at once whether that be writing, editing, or just viewing a work in progress.
This eliminates the need to wait for one person to finish before another can start, which can be highly frustrating if you need to get something done in a pinch.
6. Conduct Regular Training for Your Employees
Last but not least, it’s important to recognize that even the best system is only going to be as good as the people using it. Let’s say you pay for premium software that has all the bells and whistles, equipping your sales teams with next-level features and functionality that allow them to generate high-quality, branded documents in a matter of moments.
Well, if you don’t train them on how to use these tools effectively it’s very unlikely that they are going to take the time to teach themselves. This means your investment won’t yield the best results, and you may be creating more problems than it’s worth.
With this in mind, regular training for all employees (both new and old) is absolutely vital to ensuring that your document generation processes are as streamlined and as efficient as possible.
Keeping the Documentation Pipeline Flowing
In business, documents need to be generated all day long, but the process doesn’t have to be daunting. With a little bit of forethought and planning, as well as the investment in the right tools and training, you can start creating high-quality documents that do your business justice with just a fraction of the time invested.
Start small by creating a standardized process. Consider what your ideal document will look like from a branding, structure, and tone of voice perspective. Once you have got that down, you can look to automation software to take care of all the heavy lifting for you and your sales teams – boosting efficiency and accuracy while allowing you to redirect your resources where they’re likely to generate even more value.