What are the reasons why companies deploy document automation? What kinds of solutions do companies choose to roll them out? What are the key criteria for choosing them? Where do companies get them from?
We are an independent software vendor keen on all things to do with documents, their management and the related processes. Getting to know how the technologies we produce are used in real life is our lifeblood. While we get continuously a lot of feedback from our customers and business partners, we also felt the need to get a wider picture, so we decided to do a specific survey to collect such information in a more systematic way.
We targeted our study at Salesforce system integrators, that is, those people who evaluate, choose and deploy document automation solutions on the Salesforce platform. After all, the best answer tends to come ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’, doesn’t it?
The results we got were quite exciting to us, so read on to see our key learnings.
Benefits of document automation still unknown to many
Before we move on to presenting the results: while the people we interviewed were true pros, as many as 12% of them did not know yet what document automation is. That just goes to show that there is still a lot to do to raise awareness of its possibilities out there. There certainly must be a bigger number of laymen who do not know… If you are one of them and would like to learn, you can get an idea by looking at what our Documill Dynamo solution does.
…And now on to the results…
Key drivers: availability of documents and information in Salesforce – plus quality
First of all, we wanted to know, which were the key business challenges that prompted our respondents to deploy document automation. Most of them reported getting documents created in the first place as a major worry at 69%. More than half (56%) saw encouraging users to put all information in Salesforce as an important driver. 44% of respondents cited quality assurance and document approvals as a key challenge.
Improper sharing of important documents (41%), the requirement for GDPR compliance (31%) and need to create report documents (25%) were other reasons that mattered to the respondents.
Document automation apps are the most popular solution
There are a few different ways to deploy document automation. 55% of the respondents were using a document automation app from Salesforce AppExchange, while 39% relied on the basic Salesforce templates. 24% were creating templates just by means of Apex code. 6% were using MS Word or Excel templates, while equally many said they simply do not need document automation.
External Salesforce applications (found in Salesforce AppExchange) were highly valued in general by the respondents: a vast majority of the (82%) said that they use them.
Demand for ease of use, online technologies – and workflow automation
One thing that became clear was that demand for solutions agnostic to operating systems of devices is high. In practice, this means that users look for solutions that rely on online technologies instead of operating-system-specific applications like MS Word or Excel. Of our respondents, 44% used purely Windows, while as many as 47% were Mac devotees. Only 9% used both operating systems.
As for the key criteria in terms of functionality, ease of deployment (template creation) came first in the list (88%), followed by support for automated content selection based on condition (81%), easy change template layout (81%) and workflow automation (65%).
In other words, the respondents valued more easy and robust implementation of the core document automation capabilities than ‘refined’ functionality like the batch production of documents (31%) and redlining and collaboration (15%).
Summary: easy-to-use applications are needed for quality document production
The results we got would indicate that the key requirements for document automation solutions are ease of use, as well as support for any operating system and advanced automation workflows.
In the first place, document automation is needed simply for getting documents produced and approved (traditional headaches in the most organizations) and ensuring their quality, as well as to get all data stored in a centralized location, so anybody who needs it and has the proper privileges can access it.
The preferred way to deploy document automation is by means of a specialized document automation application.
Would you like to see how document automation in Salesforce with a specialized application would work for you? Then try out for free one or both of these two solutions (among many) we have created to kickstart you: automated quotation generation and account reporting.
About the study and its audience
The survey was carried out by means of an online questionnaire in December 2017 and January 2018. It turned out that the vast majority of our respondents held the certification of a Certified Salesforce Administrator (ADM 201), at 81%.
Other certifications mentioned were Certified Salesforce Sales Cloud consultant (CON 201) at 39%, Certified Salesforce Service Cloud consultant (26%), Certified Platform Developer (23%) and Certified Salesforce Advanced Administrator (ADM 301) at 16%.
It was quite common for our respondents to hold more than one certification, which explains why the sum total of the answers exceeds 100%. Only 6% of the respondents didn’t report having any certificate, while 35% fell to the ‘Other’ category.
Nearly all respondents (91%) were working on Sales Cloud implementations, while 56% were also working on Service Cloud and 38% on Community Cloud deployments.
As for the sizes of the companies they cater for, the respondents made a diverse group: while 52% served the big enterprises, 24% were working strictly for Small and Medium Enterprises. The remaining 24% was working with companies of all sizes.