Documents can be automated in different ways. While there are many approaches to automation, there are three levels to consider:
The three scenarios are not mutually exclusive. Most organizations combine at least two.
The process of automating documents, and the degree to which they can be automated, depends on the answers to the following questions:
Often, when organizations start with document automation, they want to replace existing manual processes. Because a manual process is being replaced, a tendency may exist to keep the user engaged in the creation of documents. Thus, the user-driven mode is chosen, and a "plug-and-play" document creation solution replaces the existing manual processes. Later, when the entire process is under review, a decision may be made to proceed with the automated or hybrid mode.
In automated mode, there are many scenarios. The solution may create batches of thousands or millions of documents. The solution may simply create one document when someone clicks a button in the CRM system or other application, or another trigger (e.g., a payment is overdue by four days).
In hybrid mode, the solution may automatically send welcome kits to all new customers, but when data elements are missing or don't match validation rules, the solution may create a task for a customer service officer to resolve in terms of providing the correct values.
Which is the correct mode for your business? Automated, user-driven, or hybrid?
In the next section we consider the use of, and integration with, the organization's existing systems and data sources.