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The Essential Guide to Document Generation in Salesforce
Kimmo Salmela · June 03, 2019 · 5 mins
A document generation App in Salesforce allows you to generate rich format documents by using data from Salesforce to create PDF or HTML documents based on templates.
But what do you need to know before buying such App? We explain in this article how to power up your Salesforce experience with document generation and what to look for when choosing a solution.
What’s document generation?
In brief, document generation allows you to create and automate documents in Salesforce by combining data from different sources to generate a PDF or HTML document based on a template.
It can be used for a variety of purposes from creating a quote or offer to automating a complex report or staff scheduling, for example. The benefits of document generation in Salesforce are the ease of access to always-up-to-date documents, the ability to merge data from different Salesforce objects into templates, elimination of manual errors and, above all, the fast speed at which great-looking documents can be produced.
Document template design
You should, of course, make sure that your template design tool is easily accessible to everybody, who needs to use it. Today there are equally many Mac users accessing Salesforce as there are Windows users (if not even more!), so usually your template design tool should be accessible to the both.
In practice, this is best enabled by selecting a solution with an HTML-based online editor. MS-office-based solutions also exist, but they are not suitable for Mac users, which makes them inapplicable for most enterprises.
It makes things a lot easier if your application has an easy-to-use document editor that allows you to make all necessary settings related to the document with a few clicks. Without such capability, you may find yourself in no time fiddling with complicated parameters on the Salesforce platform side.
A good editor also allows you to just drag and drop dynamic Salesforce field data into the document template and freely define sections of the document that users can edit.
Implementing just a basic document generation functionality, as described above, can add a lot to your and your company’s productivity. But for those who want to further enrich the document experience, some applications allow implementing sophisticated workflows to automate other activities related to the document.
Here are some examples:
- predefining conditions to automatically select alternative text, images and tables depending on document recipients
- adding attachments in line or as separate documents using automatic rules or simple selection options
- automated document generation triggered by a workflow step
- managing multiple language variants of a single document
- automated circulation & approvals
- seamless e-signing service integration.
All this may look at first demanding. But a good document automation application can make it all surprisingly easy and allow it all to be done directly with the application’s document editor – and thus add to productivity in a big way.
What kind of documents do you use?
Your choice of a document generation app in Salesforce depends largely on your document quality requirements. The more complex your needs are, the more carefully you should investigate the possibilities of the different options.
Some apps, such as Documill Dynamo, will be able to output data from a Salesforce field and customise it into a complicated layout such as a list of products grouped by opportunities, where you can run a calculation of a total sum for each opportunity. As a general rule, the more complex the requirements, the better off you are, if you contact the app provider directly before making a decision (yes, the most of them are happy to speak with you!). It’s also a good idea to request a proof-of-concept to really see how well an app can work for you.
Top ways to use document generation
Document generation not only automates the process of business critical documents such as contracts, proposals and offers but it also allows you to design the output in a way that fully reflects your brand.
Here are the top five ways how document automation in Salesforce can help business to become more efficient:
- Automate an offer template – Generate an offer with relevant attachments from “Opportunity” view
- Create a template for a response to customer issue/request – Generate a response document to customer from “Case” view
- Generate an account plan presentation – Generate an account plan presentation to sales meeting from “Account” view
- Get an audit report – Generate and send audit reports for customer from “Custom” view
- Merge complex data in a maintenance report – Generate a service report from prepared equipment, including assembly photos from Force.com App view
Implementing a document generation App
The setup is simple. It starts with designing a template using a sample template that are available in many of the apps. It can be easily customized to suit your brand guidelines and include the appropriate attachments or optional content blocks.
When the template is ready, document generation itself is easy, requiring just a few clicks from your users.
To test document generation right now, download a trial version of Documill Dynamo and follow its simple on-screen instructions to get started right away.
Kimmo Salmela is a communications manager at Documill. Earlier on, he worked in several industry and solution marketing and communication positions at Nokia. Now Kimmo focuses on online collaboration technologies and their future prospects for businesses.
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