Document automation is the process by which computer documents are created in a semiautomatic fashion. This type of software is used widely by businesses, legal entities and anyone who produces a wide range of documents. A document is generally created by using a template with questions and areas that can be easily swapped and changed. While good for some applications, others will find document automation is not that helpful in document production.
Document automation starts with a template. For example, if a legal company is contracted to write up a lease, a leasing document template is used. This template has all the required text to make it official, along with areas in which the company can make quick changes to customize the template for the client's specific needs.
One way these changes are made in document automation is through questions. These questions are targeted toward the form or template and are made so the form is immediately altered for the client’s needs. A question on a loan document, for example, might be whether the loan is to last 10, 20 or 30 years. All areas where this information is applicable will be changed to coordinate with the answer given.
There also are areas in which the writer can quickly change text. This is most often used to fill in the client’s name and contact information. Drop-down menus that display stock writing examples may also be used. Graphics also may be able to be manipulated, especially if the document automation program is made for businesses, because a business will likely want to add its logo to the document. By having an area where graphics can be added and changed, the business can add a logo with just a few clicks.
Document automation is generally made either as a standalone program or an add-on. This allows the user to stick with his or her favorite program and just use the automation features for document assembly, or use a completely different program that may have features other programs lack. In either case, the user's computer must be able to handle the memory and processing needs of the program if the assembly software is to function properly.
Most companies will find document assembly software to be useful, but there are some that will not. If a company is dedicated to handwriting each document and making each one different, then automating the process will not be useful. If the bulk of documents made cannot be applied to a form because each one is substantial different, then document automation also is not useful.