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Document Generation in Salesforce: Template Format Guide

Having an automated document generation App in Salesforce, such as Documill Dynamo,  allows you to digitize your document processes. While MS Word is usually the most popular choice for a document template, there may be a time HTML based template is more fitting. But how do you choose between the different template types?

In this article, we’ll go through in 5 easy steps how to choose a template format to match your business requirements when generating documents in Salesforce.

1. Identify the use cases and documents needed

The first step is to define the use cases and what documents are needed. The easiest way to do this is to analyze your current practices and identify any bottlenecks or problem areas in terms of documents. By analyzing the current practices, you will get an idea of how the processes could be improved by automated document generation. Below are some of the typical examples of analyzing and improving the existing document processes:

  • When the sales process is not standardized

Problem: Sale reps have different ways to create quotes and response to the customer. There is no consistency in customer communication

Use cases: Standardize the sales process. Automate quote generation, quote delivery and customer response

  • When the contract creation is not automated

Problem: Companies have complicated product portfolio with different agreements, terms and conditions attached to each product.

Use cases: Automate contract generation and attachment selection.

A common problem in organizations is the lack of a consistent workflow or that the existing workflow is ineffective, as shown in the use cases above. However, do not miss this critical step as it will not only help you decide the right document template format but also will help when building a workflow for document automation.

2. List the types of layouts and formats needed

Based on your business needs, list all the documents and types of contents you need to have. Use the table below to describe what will be included in different documents and rank your need for rich content and rich format features.

If you require a lot of rich format features, you’re best off staying with MS Office based templates. If that’s not the case, then will have more flexibility in terms of the output format.

Document required Avg length Basic elements Dynamic elements Formats & layouts
Offer 1 Table No – low need Basic
Contract agreement 10 Text, no images Table of contents – high need Complex
Product description 1 List, table, image Avg need Basic

3. Plan the document usability and deployment

Consider which the best way for your team members to generate and share documents. Are they based in the office or do they require document generation in Salesforce or on the go? Will they use the generated outcome immediately as-is or do they need to have a final touch for more personalization? Will the documents generated require collaboration?

Answer all these questions for narrow down your best choice for a template. After you have answered these, think about the deployment of the template(s) within the organization. Will the template will be used by a small team or unit or will it be widely shared and applied across the organization? If you want to harmonize the document process at a company level, consider any issues related to infrastructure and system to help your decision. Use the table below will help you answering all the above questions.

Document required Generate Edit before use Collaboration & system requirement Current infrastructure
Offer Anytime, anywhere Moderate High & mobile Windows/ Mac/ Mobile – Not easy / Easy to install new program in every device
Contract agreement In the office Strict Avg & MS Office Windows/ Mac/ Mobile – Not easy / Easy to install new program in every device
Product description Anytime, anywhere None Avg & mobile Windows/ Mac/ Mobile – Not easy / Easy to install new program in every device

4. Map document interactions and flow

Next, define actions and tasks associated with the generated documents and map out the document flow according to the working process you defined in step 1. Answer the following questions:

  • What will happen before, during and after document generation?
  • How will the documents be delivered?
  • How will the documents interact with the system and the receivers (either team members, managers or customers)?
  • How many iteration rounds will there be to complete the final version of the document?

In case your documents require multiple stages of internal approvals, or require many iteration rounds due to collaborating with the customers, consider using HTML format that allows you to easily streamline the work with others. HTML documents are an excellent choice when you require accessibility regardless of the system infrastructure. They also enable instant feedback and online collaboration.

The idea is to ensure you can automate as many actions as possible related to every document, not only the creation part. Make your documents accessible and interactive to all users, regardless of the infrastructure and empower the whole organization and external entities to have a smooth, continuous digital experience, ultimately completing your workflow automation.

Learn what opportunities document generation in Salesforce with Documill Dynamo can bring to you.

5. Optimize the solution

As you often will need to combine different documents to a package to deliver the work, it is not necessary to restrict yourself from one document format. If the document generation solution you are using supports various document formats and format combinations, use it to optimize strengths of both MS Office and HTML templates formats.

So if you want to standardize and automate the sale process, start from offering phase. When you send an offer to customers, the document package will include both the main “Offer” and the “Product description”, in different document formats as shown in the table below.

Document Package Interactions Template formats
Offer: content included

– Cover letter
– Pricing table

High: lots of negotiation with customers Basic layout
“Product description”: content included
– List of ordered item
– Item description and image
– Optional attachments: supporting services related to specific items
Low: no negotiation with customers Advanced layout

Get Documill Dynamo from Salesforce AppExchange. It is the only App available that allows you to combine HTML and MS Office based documents into a document package. An example of an optimized solution would be to combine HTML and Word templates, using HTML as the main template for “Offer” and Word for “Product description” or any other documents attached to “Offer”.

By | May 10th, 2016|